Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hungry Deer

This drought is getting ridiculous. My garden hasn't gotten a good rain all spring. The last two cold fronts brought only tiny sprinkles that barely wetted the dusty ground. It's so disappointing to watch the weather radar on TV, with the storms blowing through the area and parting around San Marcos, dumping rain on Austin and San Antonio while I get nothing. It's like Nature itself is against me.

On top of that, I've discovered another effect of the drought besides high water bills and shriveled plants. The deer have finally come this far into the neighborhood, no doubt looking for food which has become scarce in the nature preserves and greenspaces nearby.

I first noticed the problem when I saw that my largest cucumber plant was completely missing! It was the one that was just starting to send vines up the fence, and it was just GONE. Like someone had come along and pulled up the entire plant. But who would do such a thing?

Looking around the scene of the crime, I finally found the base of the stem, with a bit of root still attached, in my neighbor's  yard just on the other side of the fence. That's what made me suspect it was a deer. There were also a few torn-off leaves lying on my side of the fence, like the deer had grasped the part of the plant sticking out of the fence, and then pulled the whole thing through, ripping off some leaves in the process.

I also figured out why my pole beans keep falling off the fence and bamboo poles. Again, anything sticking through the fence gets munched, which sometimes lets the beans lose their grip on the supports and fall back on the ground. At least none of the beans (that I've noticed) have been completely pulled out, so they have a chance to grow back. They just keep getting their ends chewed off.

I guess one thing I can be grateful for is that the deer haven't yet gotten up the nerve to jump over the fence. They're just eating anything that pokes out. They could jump my fence easily if they really wanted to, though, so it may only be a matter of time.

I'm trying to think of something I can do, since nature is refusing to cooperate and rain on San Marcos so some deer food can grow out at the park. I wonder if I can repel them with something. I've heard about all sorts of repellents for deer, from soap in an old sock to rotten eggs to coyote urine. I'm wondering if used cat litter would work. You know, nice and urine-soaked. Well, it grosses me out! And I have it in abundance.

What I've heard is the efficacy of any deer repellent depends on how desperate the deer are. Since my deer aren't jumping the fence yet, maybe that means they aren't too desperate yet and a bit of stinky cat urine will work.

I'm also going to see if I can rig up some sort of supports so my beans and cucumbers don't grow out through the fence as much and will therefore be harder for the deer to reach.

But what we really need is some rain. We're getting another teaser today with thunderstorms moving through the area and a 50% chance of rain. I haven't gotten any yet, though, besides maybe a tiny sprinkle. I'm still running my soaker hose, because I'm just not counting on it. I've been let down too many times already this year.

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