When I went out to open the chicken coop this morning I saw two deer standing neck-deep in the clover crop of one of our resting gardens. And that’s OK by me. As long as they’re eating clover they’re not eating broccoli.

My decision to reduce the size of our gardens was in part to enable us to better protect against deer. ¬†After putting up our usual electrified net fencing around the spring garden, I added another fence about 2-3 feet around the perimeter of the interior fence. I’m told that deer have poor depth perception and aren’t as likely to jump a double fence. And every few days I’ve been spraying deer repellent (a concoction whose principal ingredient is rotten eggs) around the edge of the fence. So far so good.

While I’m going to return most of the retired garden space to grass, I intend to keep a couple of the plots sowed in deer-food cover crops, in the hope that they’ll focus on those rather than our people-food gardens.

As much as I complain about deer and the damage they do around here, I should add that they are an important part of our food self-reliance. I haven’t eaten any red meat in well over ten years now, other than venison. In fact I got out some ground venison to thaw overnight in anticipation of tacos for lunch.

So while I grumble and fret about feeding the deer, the truth is that they feed me too.