Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Oh Deer

Back when I moved here it was my first excursion into living in the country full time. While living in the suburbs had it challenges, one neighbor in particular would take advantage of my frequent out of town trips by helping herself to my water service. She would turn on my water and top off her pool, water her lawn and garden, wash her cars. I couldn’t figure out how I had a $400 water bill when I had been in Hawaii for the last month, but then it came to me…Actually one of the other neighbors ratted her out.

Anyway, living in the country you find that you have other sorts of things taking what you thought was yours. People in the neighborhood knew about my fruit trees and they told me that the deer would wipe them out unless I took action to prevent it. I would solicit their suggestions and I heard many, which included:

  1. Go to a barber shop and get a bag full of hair that they sweep from the floor.
  2. Get some cougar urine and mist some of it on the trees.
  3. Get a big dog.
  4. Urinate around every tree every week.

None of those options sounded good to me, but at that time some new technology gave me some hope. These were the lights that turn on automatically when something emitting heat moves in front of them. They are everywhere now, but were pretty novel back in the late 80s.

So I ran wire to set up three fixtures on the side of a shed. I pointed the sensors toward the trees that the deer would surely visit. The first night I was reading in my living room and I could see nothing but blackness through the window that looked out upon the trees.

Suddenly one of the lights came on, and then another. There was a deer standing beneath a tree stunned by the light where none had ever been on previous raids. The deer collected its thoughts and scampered away.

The following night found me reading in the living room with the window looking into the blackness of night. The light came on again, and the deer stood its ground this time. It even reached up and grabbed an apple. Eventually the light cycled and turned itself off. The dear realized this light was a good thing, and moved before the sensor again turning the light back on. Every time the light went off the deer would go back and cross the path of the sensors to turn the light back on to better see the apples it wanted to eat.

I quickly came to terms with it. Deer have to eat, too, so they got to eat all the fruit they could reach and the rest was mine.

It wasn’t long before the deer had eaten all the fruit it could reach. It then looked in at me through the window in a curious way. I slowly went out side and picked her an apple that was out of her reach, and I rolled it to her on the ground. She spooked for a moment, but returned to eat it. I rolled her another, and she approached closer to me to eat. After several apples I got her to take one from my hand. It was beautiful, but later I realized I removed some of her fear of man and I vowed to never do that again.

Today I still let them eat what ever they can reach, and we both seem to get just enough.


Anonymous native said...

the animals are our family too...i believe the original purpose of man was to take care of the animals....first job was giving em names....then first man got into forbidden fruit and sex....not much has changed from first man to us....wonder how people can consider that evolution...

7:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

glad you came to terms with your animal neighbors...wish everyone would.

7:32 AM  
Blogger Trish said...

What a great story...

We don't get deer in our garden but we do get groundhogs. Unfortunately my hub doesn't feel quite so charitable towards them.

9:38 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

We have an obligation to take care of the animals we have domesticated. The wild ones should be left alone, unless we screw up their environment.

I do feed the birds, and I'm not so sure that's a good idea, either.

Trish, a mild electric fence should help with them and the local dogs and cats. I have a relative who used a really hot fence and was surprised one morning to find several dead wood chucks, racoons and birds around his fence.

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Moosehead said...

You gotta check this out! I wish you understood french cause this is real funny but the visuals are a hoot too.
Basically, this moose got shot at and he doesn't understand why. His buddy tells him there must be a reason and he asks him if he shit in the hunter's pickup (shiez dans son pickup). Priceless - he has to say peanut without smiling to prove that he didn't. The halloween clip is pretty good too...

4:30 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Moosehead, you really need to get a job this winter.

4:43 PM  
Blogger LeLo in NoPo said...

Lovely post.

I struggle with the birdfeeding as well. We have planted as much as we can for hummingbirds, and now will feed them through the winter with feed. Same with the other birds...leaving as much as we can in the garden for them to enjoy....lots of seedheads, rosehips, etc.
It's a give and take here in the city, the way I see it. And I try to be as responsible as possible.

7:04 PM  
Anonymous portosans sleaping in thursday said...

Take care and nurture the wild creatures that have been effected, by us screwing up there environment? Much like we do with the Salmon? errr, Salmanoids I mean?

I appreciated the informative article on farmed salmon several weeks ago. It looks to me like allot of money and resources are spent, trying to "help" the salmon recover. There is a nice expensive looking building in Astoria and I used to know the name of it. Is'nt that a Salmon research facility? Anyway, forgive me, It is late and I don't want to look it up. Nice expensive building.

Reminds me of a story about a family in France: Good solid people. Mother and father of one child, a son named Pep'e. Mom and Dad were doteing parent's. All the while taking great care of Pep'e as he grew up. Mom and Dad worked hard, managed there resources well in order that Pep'e had every oppertunity available for the best in education, life, happiness and health.

But Pep'e was not interested in pursueing an education. In fact Pep'e did not seem to have much ambition at all for anything except laying around all day, eating chease, taking naps and ordering his mother around. Like she was some kind of servant. "more welslydale mu'ma" Pep'e would whine. "Oop's, mu'ma - I drooled on le silk pillow again". "This lounge is lumpy mu'ma" Pep'e would bitch.

Shortly after Pep'e turned forty three and was STILL living at his parent's home, Mom and Dad were at the market picking up more chease and laundry soap. They were discussing there situation about there son Pep'e. How Pep'e had never had a job, or any ambition to go to school. They came to the conclusion that Pep'e may never move out and make a life for himself. That this situation and there misery would go on for the rest of there life if they did not do something now!

So they did. Pep'es parents took Pep'e to a doctor - a psyciatrist.

"Doctor!" Pepe's parent's said. "he has no ambition, he's forty three and still lives at home with us". "just lay's around eating chease and taking nap's" They told the Doctor.

Then Pep'es parent's confided in the doctor and said "you know doctor, when we talk to Pep'e about this, Pep'e just say's I don't have a problem and gives us this blank sortof stare! can you believe that?"

The Doctor thought for a moment.

Then the Doctor said "I agree with Pep'e" and he continued "Pep'e does not have a problem because you have taken his problems away"

12:07 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Lelo, it looks like you'll have some time to learn to hand feed them now after your big decision. Congrats, by the way.

Port, you are talking about the OSU Seafood Center. I agree, people are the problem. Our fishing industry is trying to feed the world. I feel that people should not be getting Columbia River salmon. They should be eating bass and walleye. That's what they get locally.

Perhaps if food were labled with its point of origin people would see and understand better that there is an imballance.

8:13 AM  
Anonymous Nomad25632563 said...

Lovely story.

Smart deer.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

You think THIS is the country? Yikes, you would have love the last place I lived. When we moved here, we thought we were moving to the city!

The deer here are a whole different ilk than those we had in the country! These deer have juevos the size of their heads. I was driving down Irving one night during the summer and there were two does, traipsing up this very steep concrete set of steps to eat the potted flowers on either side of the front door (this was between 12th and 14th). Then, they descended that steep flight of stairs (clop, clop, clop) and right back up the flight next door.

And these deer are savvy. They use sidewalks and crosswalks. There were so few roads where we used to live that our deer were constantly totalling cars, left and right.

I figure, unless I plant deer-proof plants, then I get what I get. Can't begrudge something for eating. Being hungry is an awful thing.

11:14 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

They are really smart, except the ones I've seen crossing the street by the Pig & Pancake. They just don't get the do not cross signal.

5:52 AM  

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