Fragments from the Homefront

Garden of 2003

** Garden: Total defeat. Why the same 4-strand electric fence successfully kept deer out the first few years is beyond me. Apparently there is some learning going on, and none of our efforts to weird them out with spinning CD’s or leave olfactory trails around the perimeter every night were effective. So, a neighbor with a backhoe is coming to level out a small patch nearer the house. We’ll sink 10 foot posts, put up 8 foot tall woven wire or cattle panels and build next year’s Gulag Garden. Those “free” vegetables are going to be costly, but at least maybe we’ll eat some of them next year. (Image: Good Garden of ’03. Sigh.)

** Home: The rotten egg/sewer gas smell we lived with most of the spring has now been solved. Turns out, a gas pipe when installed was supported on a large rock in the crawlspace. Condensation accumulated at that spot, and in 8 years since the house was “improved” a hole had corroded all the way through that heavy iron pipe. Thanks to Clark Gas for finding and fixing the problem so that my dirty sox no longer get the blame.

** OnLine: I signed up and have “approved” contacts wanting to add me to their “Facebook” pages, not having a clue why anyone would want to do so. I just haven’t been sucked into the sphere of this new “place” on the web. And I have felt somewhat oddly guilty about that. So I’ve started wandering over that way a little more of late, warming up some to the appeal of FB. Then this morning, I get a response to a question I’ve ostensibly posted asking the drinking age in Poland. Somebody’s hacked my identity–innocuous this time, but they could post any kind of junk as “me”. Don’t like that.

** Small World: I was talking with an academic friend recently about writing, and mentioned the two books I am reading stemming from my Hindman experience. These two authors have voices and styles I’d like to learn from. The first, not surprisingly, was Annie Dillard. Turns out he has written a review of Maytrees, not yet published. “And” I said with great enthusiasm “there’s this book called Birdsongs of the Mesozoic”. My friend brightened: “I went to school with David Brendan Hopes and we’re in touch; we discussed at length Pilgrim at Tinker Creek back in the 70’s.”

** Offline: Thanks to Gary B for the pointer to Play, Spirit and Character at Speaking of Faith. I’ve downloaded the broadcast to listen to on my way home from Rural Retreat tonight. Book Two, if it happens, may have traces of this topic woven into the narrative of the photographs.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Just a work of unsolicited advice. When you build your deer fence, use the larger mesh plastic fence. Ron, at Seven Springs sells it. The smaller mesh catches snakes, not fun for you or the snakes. I’ve yet to catch a snake with the bigger mesh and it is a bug thrill to thwart the deer. Worth every penny. Now I get the veggies.

  2. i have chuckled watching the deer in the field acrros the road. our neighbor’s over there have a huge garden. i’ll see the owner working in her garden for hours and watch the deer grazing nearby. no sooner than 2 minutes after she goes in, they start edging closer and closer to the garden. they’re smart ones, them deer! 🙂

    i have friends that started up facebook accounts, i guess it’s kind of a ‘grown-up’ version of myspace….. which, oddly enough, my myspace just got hacked, too, and all kinds of sordid things got sent from my account to my friends. everyone thought it was pretty funny and i got all kinds of great replies and friend requests. 🙂 i had to break the bad news to everyone that that wasn’t me in all the videos and pics sent out. needless to say, i’ll be changing my password a lot more regularly.

  3. I can relate to the garden. I had one un-touched for the first two years we lived in the new house, then this year came and I got hit by bunnies and deer… until I finally had to fence it in. I hate how it looks, but at least I got to quit re-planting tomatoes and peppers!

  4. I’ve not been able to garden these last two years for health reasons, but do you suppose the deer are just looking for feed, with this awful drought going on?

    I’m sure that accounts for all the bear sightings as well. Didn’t the Native Americans put up rows of jagged stakes that kept deer from getting into their gardens?

    Good luck, Fred. Without a garden this year, I’ve been shopping at the local farmer’s market with growers I know.

  5. For those that might not know, if you link Rural Retreat from this blog you are going to get something about Austrailian houses. Rural Retreat is a small town in VA.