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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Deer oh deer

I live in Allegheny County. Pretty much anything that isn't Pittsburgh proper is a really close suburb. We are lucky enough to have a full acre of land and lots of trees on our property, but we're only one street away from the bus line, so to my country-girl heart, this is NOT in any way a rural area.

However, there are scattered patches of woodsy areas all around here. Like South Park. Places where deer are protected, and free to reproduce like mad. Which they do. And then they need to roam to feed. Except there's nowhere to roam except into people's yards. (Hm, maybe someone should make a CGI movie about that...)

And, with the exception of the occasional borough-sponsored "bring in hunters from surrounding counties" event, they are not hunted. Which means that they have practically no fear of people. I have pulled in my driveway to encounter deer munching on my landscaping and they did't scatter...they didn't even stop eating. They just looked up with an expression of annoyance.

Excuse me! We're trying to eat here...

(Okay, okay...a blank expression. Forgive me a little projecting!)

We have learned not to bother with ornamental flowering plants, because the deer have been bold enough to graze directly out of pots on our front stoop. I had a gorgeous cover of vareigated hostas next to the house,

but as you can see, they were apparently equally appealing as Deer Salad Bar.

This year they even trimmed off the blooms. I hope the poor plants survive!!

Our yard looks like a bizarre prison camp for plant life. Any tree or shrub that we want to survive must be protected by deer fencing, wire mesh, or chicken wire.

Solitary confinement

In our back yard, you can see two very large areas surrounded by similar net fencing.

These are the garden and a small "orchard" of a half-dozen fruit trees. The protective barriers around each of these areas are 8 feet high...yet we lost an apple tree last year because the deer learned how to lean against the netting to get it to sag...then they'd leap over and graze at will. Our first garden barrier was only 6 feet high and we awoke one morning to find a doe trapped in there, trampling and destroying everything in her frantic escape attempts.

When I was a child, I lived in Washington County and every male I knew over the age of 11 considered it their mission to bag as many deer as humanly possible. I have photo albums full of me as a toddler, posing with dressed carcasses on the back of dad's flatbed pickup. Even so, I think it's safe to say that I see more live deer in my suburban back yard in certain weeks than I saw in my entire childhood in the woods. Now I live in an area where people are too PC to dream of hunting...and every time I find another plant decimated, I want blood.

Of course, you know my history with the mice. There will be no actual violence, because as much as I piss and moan, I'd never have it in me to actually harm them. I just wish that these creatures and I didn't have so much unfortunate territorial overlap...

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