Terms of Un-deerment

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Since we don’t have a “control” garden without CD’s strung from the fence, I can’t say if the attempt to thwart the deer by displaying these spinning, iridescent “EYES” is working or not.

It certainly isn’t an absolute deterrent: twice, we’ve found deer tracks (one deer each time) and all the sunflowers are gone, and two of the tomato plants.

I’m heading out now for the morning damage report. The electric charger is not working, but we have our technicians working on it. (And yes, this is false color, but it makes the CD look more like a forbidding bloodshot eye, and I hope this is the way the rats-on-stilts (a.k.a deer) see it!

Several of the CD’s there were once on the fence have come down. The fishing line I used to tie them up must be 30 years old (on a reel that’s been over in the barn since 1999) and turns out, it doesn’t stand up to all the sun and wind.

BTW, the item on the tomato stake to the right of the spinning CD is a fence post pounder–a steel tube with a slug of steel in the base, with two handles. You put it over the T-post (or wooden stake) and lift and let fall. Beats heck out of lifting a sledge hammer above shoulder height–a high-risk for smashed fingers plus shoulder tendinitis!

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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. I know you don’t want to spend the money but my 48″ wood picket fence surrounding my garden has been deer proof so far to date. Considering the year over year loss of produce you may experience, a hardier fence that deer are incapable of breeching may be a sensible investment.


  2. Incapable at 48 inches? This doesn’t seem anywhere near high enough for the deer we have around here. I know folks with 72″ fences that have not kept them out. Is there another trick you have going, or do your deer just have white man’s legs? They’re capable. They just for some reason aren’t interested or willing.

  3. My neighbor has a small garden which she surrounds with wire fencing 6 feet tall and chicken wire strung over the top of it – and the deer still get into it somehow.

  4. Sean’s fence is a thing of beauty. Post pounders are a great invention, and you want to avoid that tendinitis at all cost.

    As for the deer, my 5′ fence doesn’t keep them out. Except for one poor deer sole, who got inside and couldn’t get out. And in the process battered the inside corner of my fence to pieces.

  5. A friend who had an allottment surrounded by 8ft fencing found that the deer still got in. In his case the fence was at the bottom of a hill and they simply took a running jump over it – which must have been a sight to behold! I have no idea how they got out again however.

  6. As added benefit, the post pounder makes a great dog exerciser…place on post, hook leash to handle, get out of way….

  7. Thanks for the visual, Fred. Now I wish I’d kept all those junk mail CD’s to use. You’ll have to let us know if this scheme does the trick. This year I’m using Liquid Fence for the first time – so far, so good.

  8. Who would think that vegetable gardening would actually be easier in the city? No problem so far with our raised 4′ x 16′ garden, unfenced, which is full of vigorous tomato plants – 4 feet tall – and eggplants, strawberries, and bell pepper. And marigolds and cosmos. A squirrel got our first lusciously ripe German Johnson last week. But no deer … so far. They’ve been seen occasionally across the street in the park, though, over the years, so I won’t gloat.

    Good luck! Get that electric fence working. Your garden looks lovely. Can you irrigate if we don’t get ever get rain again?

  9. I would like to have permission to be able to have game warden come out issue damage stamps and I would thin the herd , quietly as possible. Please contact me I live in Blacksburg va. email is cbuck36@netzero.com