Deer-Pest-Post-Photo-Web

See that? Yes, that thing right there in the middle of the screen above the overgrown Bahia… Mhmm, it’s so cute isn’t it? Just a sweet little doe roaming around on a cool summer night, right? Wrong! It’s bad, BAD BAD BAD!!! We have discovered the absolute WORST garden pest, deer!

Let’s start at the beginning, last summer, when we thought the worst garden pests were those green tomato worms (which are pretty nasty, and will devour your entire tomato bush in one night). We discovered natural ways to deter those little guys, and our tomatoes were MUCH more plentiful and healthy this year –fertilizing with a hearty helping of chicken manure didn’t hurt either. 

tomato-worm

When antler-less season proved less fruitful than we had hoped (and I could really go for some deerloaf for dinner tonight), we knew that the four does we had seen prancing around our yard might become a problem. So we decided to be pro-active and build a “secure” deer-fence. The Handsome Hubby got to work armed with t-posts, disassembled pallets, deer fencing, ropes, screws, fence ties etc. He built a fortress, or so we thought…

Handsome Hubby and the Swamp Farm Kiddos enjoying the garden, BEFORE the deer problem.
Handsome Hubby and the Swamp Farm Kiddos enjoying the garden, BEFORE the deer problem.

It began slowly, a few Romas knocked off here…a little nibble on the zucchini there. Was it a bunny? Or perhaps the voracious grasshoppers? Then one day there were footprints and little “pellets”…no doubt now, it was the DEER! They started out by devouring the remnants of our sweet peas (I hear that’s one of their favorites, but apparently they have grown accustom to ALL of our veggies). Fortunately we had already gathered the majority of the harvest from those and the beans, which were next on their hit-list.

So, we ramped up our defenses. We put up more ropes around the top, taller deer fencing, even barbed wire! That seemed to work, for a little while. Then they discovered the sprawling sweet potatoes…and we suddenly had a war on our hands. One little nibble and they had found their new nightly feasting grounds. They began by lifting up the deer netting and going under, why jump 8 feet in the air when you can be sneaky right?

Improved deer fence on garden...tall grass from the wet Florida summer. No, we don't mow twice a week to keep up with it...ain't nobody got time for that.
Improved deer fence on garden…tall grass from the wet Florida summer. No, we don’t mow twice a week to keep up with it…ain’t nobody got time for that.

We put stakes in the ground to keep the netting down, so they took to a new method of breaching that barrier: hurling their bodies straight into the netting so it would break off the posts. Seriously! We thought they were just getting caught in the fence or something, but one evening just before dark we witnessed the full extent of their obsession. A happy little lady trotted out of the swampy woods over to our garden, looked around for about half a second and then went to a corner she knew was loose (from all the previous offenses) and started munching on our sweet potatoes. When the enraged Handsome Hubby went out to confront the intruder, she just stared at him as if she thought he had created this Eden just for her –no ma’am! He did manage to run her off -without harming her- which resulted in more fence breakage, but not before she had filled her belly on the last few remaining leaves of our poor sweet potatoes.

OKAY– Time to get serious! Out came the dogs, we normally don’t have the dogs in this part of the yard because they can’t be trusted with the goats in eyesight (bull dog instincts..) but we were getting desperate. Note– the goats are still protected with two fence barriers, so no worries– just a lot of barking.

All that barking is finally proving useful, however…NO DEER in the garden! Hallelujah!!! And our stubborn sweet potatoes are starting to come back. I can taste the sweet potato pie this fall, can’t you?!

sweet-potatoes-recovery

What are some of your worst garden pests? Have any tricks for dealing with pesky deer? I’d love to hear your input below!

4 thoughts on “Deer: Friend or Foe?”

  1. This is awesome Jessica!!! Yeh, deer aren’t so dear for the farmer. Sorry. They are pretty and all…BUT with the auto accident hazard and the pesky garden variety, I’m glad there’s hunting season! 🙂

  2. I feel your pain! We had a bunch of agapanthus in our landscaping out back. Each year we would buy more. I looked so forward to the time when they would bloom each year. Big beautiful purple flowers. Then one night the deer discovered them … and once that happened – forget it. They eventually ate them right down to the ground and they keep coming back to make sure they stay that way. At first they would wait just until the flower was about to explode in full glory … and I would anticipate waking up the next morning to see it … no such luck! Cried a few tears a few times and then gave up on them and planted flowers that apparently aren’t as tasty. Good luck with your garden!

  3. I agree – thank goodness for “hunting season”! I hope your sweet potatoes make a big come back! In time for Thanksgiving!! yum yum 🙂

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