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Deer? Oh Dear – for Aug. 12, 2010

First came the colourful catalogue featuring gorgeous lilies, along with a hefty discount if I bought several dozen bulbs. Sounded great! I was getting too old to plant all those annuals anyway, so I sent off my order.

Come the fall, when friend hubby thought he’d about finished all the gardening, I had news for him. There were lily bulbs to plant.

“How many?”

“A few.” One has to be vague under those situations.

After planting “a few here” and “a few there” and “a few somewhere else,” he became a little suspicious. “Just how many of those things did you order anyway?”

“Enough.”

With his back having healed by the following spring, even he was elated when lilies sprung up all over the yard. We could hardly wait for them to bloom.

Neither could the deer.

We got up one morning to discover every bud on every lily was neatly nipped off, along with most of the tomato blossoms and all of the peas.

Hundreds of dollars later, the back garden was fenced in.

A few weeks later, standing at the end of our driveway, was an old doe and her latest offspring. She was probably explaining to her fawn, “And this, ‘deer,’ is the Barkmans’ yard where I once found the tastiest lily buds. But alas! I see they’ve closed it in, and I’m getting a little too old to jump that high fence. Oh, but look…”

A few weeks later, I went out to mow the grass under the apple tree in our front yard and nearly stepped into two piles of deer droppings, one momma-size on the ground beneath the higher limbs and one baby-size calling card beneath the lower limbs.

The apples were stripped off both branches. I wouldn’t be surprised if Momma Deer was kept up most of the night walking the forest floor with a fawn complaining of a belly ache after eating all those green apples.

Serves her right.

A few nights later, when the motion sensor near our back door detected movement and the light came on, friend hubby was curious. He couldn’t see anybody.

“Probably just the neighbour’s cat,” I said.

If so, I discovered the next morning that it had developed a strange appetite for a cat –liatris buds. And in order to reach them, it would have needed to be the size of a cougar.

The two lilies I’d been babying along right beside the back door were still intact, but I dared not spray them with the recommended deer repellent, a rotten egg mixture. I was afraid the stench would waft in the open window and ruin my reputation as a hostess. And besides, I was certain no deer would venture thatclose to the house.

When the light suddenly came on that night, I quickly looked out – and saw nothing.

Deer are fleet footed.

The lilies look bare without their buds.

– Alma Barkman writes from Winnipeg

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