Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ding dang deer are at it again

I don't believe it! The ding dang deer are eating my strawberries!

This is despite the bird netting that is constantly draped over the beds.

Come to find out the deer are smarter than we're giving them credit for. They learned to push their nose under the white pole anchoring down the netting, and munch away to their heart's content.

And boy did they do a number on my beautiful berries. Grrrr!!!

Okay, time for some reinforcement. Don thoughtfully cut me some sturdy posts and drilled holes in each end. I armed myself with screws, nails, cordless screwdriver, etc. and got to work in the late evening.

First I peeled off the old netting and pulled the old stakes out of the bed.

The I screwed the posts into the wooden beams making up the beds.

I strung baling twine between and across all the posts, then draped fresh netting over the whole thing.

So the deer couldn't nose under the netting, I anchored it down with nails in fourteen spots along each side.

The nails are pointed down to catch the netting firmly. Bird netting, I've come to realize, is one of the most valuable pest deterrents on a farm. Last fall I stocked up on a great deal of it, knowing I'd need it about this time. I'm glad I did.

By the time I got the first bed finished, the sun was nearly down.

By the time I finished the second bed, it was definitely set.

Still, my strawberries are boxed in for the night and hopefully safe. Then to top it off, by the time I tottered into the house, sweaty and tired, I found Younger Daughter was doing the dishes. Nice surprise! A cool shower, some late dinner, and I was feeling human again.


  1. Best rememdy is to watch for the deer, kill em, then put them in jars!

  2. I have heard a rumor that strawberry-fed deer are even more tasty than corn-fed beef.

    Hangtown Frank

  3. We sometimes have critters come around our 20 acres, but we have two dogs who chase 'em away! Oh, you have dogs, don't you, Patrice? Hmmm... Are they indoors all night? Maybe you should get a couple more dogs who will stay outside at night. Better yet, let a few hunters come on your property at night. I know you don't want to shoot the beautiful animals, but they're eating your garden! The only solution is to add them to your food supply, or someone else's. --Fred in AZ

  4. Hi Patrice, I currently live in suburbia (but that might change in the next month or two) with a backyard garden, and my problem was birds eating my strawberries. I netted mine in a similar fashion but used an idea from John Seymour's Self-Sufficient Life. His suggestion was to invert jars or bottles over each stake before netting, so that the netting would not catch on the wood or slip off. We keep individual plastic water bottles in the car (bought by the case) so I saved some out of the recycling and used those. It worked beautifully and didn't damage the netting.

  5. One additional suggestion: get a few small bells, like the ball-shaped "jingle bells" from toys or Christmas items, and hang them from your netting.
    Night-marauding critters don't like to give up their stealthiness, and a little unexpected noise helps send them running...or let's you know when to come running!

  6. A great example of why the Rural Revolution has a much better chance of surviving whatever comes along than the rest of the world. Persistent, creative problem solving and not leaving the job unfinished just because it is 5 p.m.!! Just wish all kids had a chance to learn from such experiences.....

  7. I was talking to a lady a while back, who said she couldn't keep a single plant in her yard because the deer ate them all. Then she got a big lawn sprinkler with a motion detector. She said she has a very nice garden now, and the deer won't come anywhere near it.
    I'm sure these things are more pricey, but probably cheaper than having to buy new deer netting every year.
    Just a thought.


  8. I have had good luck in protecting my garden from deer and rabbits by planting marigolds between the plants. I think they don;t like the smell. Also you might try fertilizing with blood meal.

  9. Great way to cover the beds. YOu might also try theose plastic snakes, they've helped us keep the critters out

  10. Ever tried human hair as a deer repellant? Works pretty good.Simply place hunks of human hair around the perimeter of planting area.
    Hair is free- local barbers & salons are usually more than happy to have you sweep their floors.

  11. Patrice, I am an arm-chair farmer, who reads a lot, including your blog. Every thing I've read says that dogs are the way to keep deer off your property. Supposedly deer hate canines of all types. Canines don't eat gardens. Thus a partnership is born. It is claimed if you get the right dogs then they also do a good job with racoons and possum which are two additional predator species. I don't know if that is a problem in your neck-of-the-woods. Now as a arm-chair homesteader I've looked into this a bit. What appears to be required is a dog, which is comfortable being outside primarily. The dog would need to be able to prosper in the Idaho winters (in general), be assertive enough to run off deer, kind enough to be around my family and big enough to protect himself from the wolves the federal government has unleashed on ranchers. The answer I am considering for my own 5 acre homestead is the Dogue de Bordeaux or in English the French Mastiff. My thoughts would be to get a dog house built in that three-sided barn you built over the hay. Hopefully this keeps the entire structure out of the wind and environment. The dog house needs to be high enough to be above your "normal amount of snow." Should be snug as possible. Hopefully the barn is some where near the garden. When the puppies are small you may keep them near the house but outside! These are outside "man dogs" they should never sleep in the house. As they get bigger and able to protect themselves I would move them further and further away from the house to finally their dog-house is where you need it to be. To keep them inside your fence line hopefully they "in general" stay near the house any way. The Mastiff line is known for generally "being lazy" if I were that big I wouldn't want to run around a lot either. I hope this suggest they will not run all over my neighbors property. If they do, I will need to get some form of electric fence if my fencing doesn't keep them in. Any way, that is my arm-chair, Monday thoughts. Stay safe. ab

    1. Only trouble is, we already have two big dogs and don't want any more. They're indoors at night (their job is to guard US). Having a dog just for garden guarding means he'd only be "employed" about three months out of the year, and the rest of the time he'd be... in the house (and yard).

      No, it's easier to work on fences and netting and other deterrents to keep the deer away from our veggies. But the yard and garden share a fence, so it might be worth knocking that fence down and letting the dogs have access to the garden area whenever they're in the yard (though that wouldn't be at night).

      And I agree, Mastiffs are a cool breed!

      - Patrice

  12. Sorry for the deer intrusion into your garden. Couldn't you have just tied down the poles in your original setup instead of going through all that work? Or did they trash the old set up? If possible, that is what I would have done first. Just my thoughts.
    I pray every day for God to protect my garden and provide an abundant harvest.