Deer

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. Β 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.

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25 comments on “Deer

  1. Joanna says:

    A venison farm without the hassle then! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We have the same problem on our farm with the deer. We just put up a 6 ft welded wire fence to help keep them out. I agree with you on the venison. When we first bought our farm I thought I would raise a few head of cattle for our own consumption but the venison is so good we now think we don’t need to raise the beef. We got two deer last year but I think we need about 3 to keep us supplied all year.

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    • Bill says:

      I don’t see any reason for homesteaders to raise beef cattle. We had some at first, but I got rid of them eventually. Deer make much better sense and they’re the ultimate free-range humanely-raised meat source.

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  3. Scott says:

    I had a guy tell me put out white clover, not red, for deer and turkey plots. Got an opinion on the matter?
    I’m amazed at our lack of deer damage here, but I probably shouldn’t say that too loudly…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ed says:

    We put up a six foot electrified net and do nothing else and I have yet to see a deer jump into the garden. I reckon a lot of it has to do with the availability of nearby food which we have most years with our acres of corn fields.

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    • Bill says:

      Hopefully that will continue to work for you. We’ve had years with very little deer pressure and years where they nearly wiped us out.

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  5. Sounds like a good plan all round, Bill!: )

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  6. Good for you. Better to have a smaller garden that’s protected than a large area open.

    If you need more deer to eat, I have a dozen or so I can spare!! My flowers would LOVE that!
    πŸ™‚

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  7. Tacos sound great! do you have cilantro yet?

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  8. shoreacres says:

    I’m glad it’s a so-far-so-good situation at this point. May it continue to be so!

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  9. Dearest Bill,
    Yeah and those deer will argue that they were there first…
    All living beings have to make a living and it can be quite hard at times.
    Wow, that rotten egg smell would throw me off, having a very sharp sense of smelling…
    All the best with your crop gardens.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks Mariette. I’m sure there were deer here centuries ago, but there were none here a hundred years ago. I don’t recall ever seeing one during my childhood. They were introduced into our area from other parts of the country about 50 years ago, in my opinion to benefit the “sportsmen” lobby (i.e. people who enjoy hunting them). Without any natural predators, the population has boomed out of control. This has happened across the country. There are now over 100 times more deer in the country than there were a hundred years ago (a mind-boggling statistic), and the disruptive effect on ecosystems has been devastating in places. Of course nature will not tolerate such imbalances over long periods of time, so in addition to diseases that are now limiting the population we’ve seen a coyote population explosion as well. Unfortunately for us in addition to fawns the coyotes eat our baby goats. Part of the reason the deer population is not being controlled naturally is that one of their primary predators (humans) now prefer to get their meat from grocery stores/feedlots/CAFOs. Hopefully we can find a way to live in harmony here on our farm. We have 183 acres of chemical-free wildlife-friendly land and we’re only raising vegetables for us on two of those acres. Our vegetables are not part of a deer’s natural diet. They’ll have more than enough to eat if they stick to the other 181 acres. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Tom says:

    Last year my back yard garden was wiped out by the deer. I got so mad with the way they eat several bites of every squash. . It’s frustrating to try to grow a garden when you get little rain, then have the deer eat it all. I live in a subdivision of a small town in Colorado, wish I could harvest the deer.

    As a long time reader of your blog, I remember you have written a book on John Wesley and food.
    Please provide information on the book. I would like to get a copy. For me, being in my garden is as spiritual as hearing a great sermon in church. It never ceases to amaze me hoy God can turn a small seed into a nourishing meal.

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  11. Bill says:

    Brother do I know that sick feeling. I don’t think they even like squash. They just go down the row taking a bite out of every one, then probably spitting it out. Makes me furious to find that kind of destruction and waste.

    You’re right–seeds are tiny miracles. Thanks for asking about the book. The best way to get it is probably through Amazon or directly from the publisher. Here are links.

    https://store.seedbed.com/products/organic-wesley

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