Beautiful nuisance

This afternoon I walked up the road to the neighbors to buy a dozen eggs. It is a lovely day even now that the sun is low; well above freezing with little wind and enough dirt showing through the ice that the road is passable even without my cleats. I was on my way down Rat’s long drive with the eggs tucked securely under my arm when a very pregnant doe burst out from a spruce thicket and nearly gave us both heart attacks. We both made very girly screams, too – deer actually make a lot of noise when they’re not being stealthy.

She was awkward running, her legs splayed out and not neatly tucked under her body as they might have been in another season. Lean everywhere except her abdomen,  she was close enough that I could see lumps of head and rump under her hide when she stretched out to run. I walked home looking at the tracks that in the snowbanks that line the road, wondering if I could pick her’s out from all the rest by their peculiar spacing. There were certainly a lot of hoof prints, and she’ll probably make two more tiny sets in a few weeks.

I’ve been thinking about how to protect the new garden space created when we cut down the trees between the house and the road last fall. There are no real barriers there – no hedges or fence – but the local deer haven’t yet changed their habitual route that skirts where the forest used to be. It would be a good idea to enclose the space with a fence before they notice the shortcut.

The easiest and cheapest way to enclose a random space against most of our local predators is an electric fence. We don’t have woodchucks – not enough cleared land with soil to allow burrows – and rabbits are picked off by raptors before there are enough of them to cause a problem, so this fence will be geared toward deer. A one-wire fence with an A/C energizer should do the trick. Conventional wisdom used to be that baiting the fence worked best – the deer came forward and touched the green apple scented bait cap (and the charged wire) with its nose and learned not to go there. Recent tests show that it is actually more efficient to use repellent on cloth flags hanging from the wire. The deer tend to check the strange item and then to associate the repellent with the shock – making the repellent more useful on unfenced areas too. There have been stories about bears being attracted to the green apple and peanut butter lures, so there’s another reason to go with repellent rather than bait. This fence won’t do anything to a bear.

I use Premiere 1 Supplies for my fencing needs. I’m very happy with the Quick-Net and solar powered battery Kube that protects the lower garden. For this application, though, I’m going with an A/C Kube because I’m close enough to an outlet in the house to run conduit out to the fence. Add in some Intellirope, a variety of insulators for t-posts, trees and stakes, some rope connectors, a few spring gates  and a bag of 20 fiber rods and I’ll have a good chance of bringing lettuce seedlings to maturity. I am enclosing approximately 300 (linear) feet at a cost of @ $200.00. Factoring in the fairly long life expectancy of the equipment (10 years) over the amount of deer repellent, labor and lost productivity and I think this works out to a good deal.  Here’s the work sheet. More pictures to follow as the equipment arrives and is installed!

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