Early yesterday morning as I was going to feed the chickens I glanced over at the watermelon garden. What I saw literally made me feel sick. Not long after planting that garden we had a torrential downpour that ruined a lot of it. I went in and reseeded everything and repaired the damage. Once the plants were established they starting growing rapidly and vining out. Once it became impossible to cultivate with a tractor we weeded it entirely by hand, twice. The plants responded beautifully. The garden is planted with Crimson Sweet and with Yellow Fleshed Moon and Stars. With a lot of love and attention we had a happy healthy watermelon garden.
Had. We had a happy healthy watermelon garden. But Thursday night deer decided to walk down the rows and eat the buds out of the plants. They took the tips off of almost every vine. Despite the fact that there is almost nothing growing on this farm that they won’t eat, and despite having hundreds of acres around here upon which to feast, they choose to ruin our watermelons.
I was furious when I saw what they’d done. I’m still not over it, but I realize of course being angry at them doesn’t make any sense.
I’m mad at myself too. I knew from last year’s experience that this was possible. I had just taken down the fence that had been protecting the peas and could easily have set it up around the watermelons. In fact, I did just that yesterday. We’d had no problems until Thursday night, but it only takes one night.
Dealing with wildlife is part of growing food. But the situation with deer around here is getting out of control. One of my neighbors has been a vegetable farmer for decades until this year. After being wiped out by deer last year he just called it quits. The only way to grow food here now, he told me, is to grow it indoors.
We’ll have some watermelons. Some of the plants were spared. And maybe they’ll regenerate. Nature can be surprisingly resilient. But it seems that the big harvest we were expecting in a few weeks won’t be happening.
But there is plenty of good news to celebrate here. Our squash, zucchini and green beans are starting to come in. The potatoes and onions are almost ready. The blackberries are starting to arrive. And yesterday I starting harvesting the garlic. It’s a great time of year, for us people as well as for the deer.