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They’re Baaaack!

May 30, 2012

Evidence

Yesterday, at breakfast, I saw them in our garden for the first time. I have seen evidence of their visits, but actual sightings have eluded me. I was sitting at the dining table, eating breakfast with some family visiting for the weekend, when we saw them in Baileys Nursery’s field, across the street. There were two of them. They were strolling toward Sauvie Island Road,  getting ready to cross the street and head down over the dike to the Multnomah Channel. A car came up the road toward them and they all stopped. They waited for the car, the car waited for them. Who knows how long they all would have stood there, each waiting for the other to go first, if it wasn’t for another car that came to break the stalemate. That was when they turned toward us, crossed Reeder Road and came into our yard. For the first time, I saw the deer in our garden.

Nibbling on the chard

There are lots of deer on Sauvie Island. I have seen them at the Wapato Greenway, a state park a little less than a mile from our house. I have seen them crossing Baileys fields before. Lots of neighbors talk about the deer in their yards and what they do to keep them out. We didn’t seem to have much of a problem with them until last fall, when they started stopping by and nibbling on things. It wasn’t too bad then, since everything was big and they didn’t seem to eat too much. But, now, with little starts going into the garden, when they nibble, they don’t leave much behind. They took out some kale and peas soon after I planted them, so I knew I had to do something.

Keeping the kale covered

The quickest thing  I could do was cover up the crops they were eating. Easy enough for the kale, just throw some row cover over the rows at night. I decided not to cover the Swiss chard, since I have quite a bit and it was pretty big. For a few beds with peas, I put up deer netting around the bed. They could jump over it, if they wanted, but the area is pretty small to jump into and I expect it will not be worth their effort. (So far, so good.) The netting did cause a little trouble for the peas as they started growing through it. I took it off some vines and covered them with row cover. That will be easier to take off when I start picking peas.

Deer netting around a bed with cabbage, peas and other crops

Luckily, there are some crops they don’t like to eat, like tomatoes and squash. I am not sure what I would do if I had to cover or fence everything. I am still trying to decide if there is a better solution. I have heard of a few things that other farms here have done: electric fencing and special hunting permits to kill the deer. But for me, electric fencing? maybe. Hunting? yeah, right. I saw an electronic post that attracts and then shocks the deer to scare them away. It sounds a bit too easy to be effective, but it could be something to try.

For now, until it gets to be too much trouble, I’ll keep things covered up and see if the deer keep coming.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. steven permalink
    May 30, 2012 3:04 pm

    maybe Jonas can sleep out in the hoop houses at night and spray them with a hose.

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