Dear Deer

Dear Deer,

Are you familiar with the moralistic tale of the mother hen who makes bread for her family?  No one helped her with the planting, the harvesting, the milling, or the baking of the bread.  However, once the bread was ready to eat, they all wanted a piece.  Would you agree that they did not deserve to share the bread?

I have been caretaker of Halcyon now for twelve years.  In that time, I have not only shared many of the natural resources found at Halcyon with other nonhuman life forms, I have actually increased available habitat and food resources for them.  I feel I have been very kind in sharing, and in general I have only minor complaints (well, except for that hawk from any conflict of interest between my needs and that of the needs of others living at Halcyon.

You deer have crossed the line.  Or, I should say more literally, the fence.  It was bad enough when you ate most of the lily blooms we’d been anxiously waiting to see. We have hundreds of lily fans; you could have saved some for us.

Good neighbors honor fence lines.  You have not been a good neighbor.  I have 14 acres to share with you.  In fact, I think I have been exceedingly generous.  Of those 14 acres, I’ve only fenced in 3500 square feet of land that I don’t wish to share.  This is more than fair.  I’ve left you with 606, 340 square feet from which to browse, rest, sleep, find cover and whatever else it is you do in your summer feeding areas.  Perhaps this is not quite enough space for your typical one-half to three square miles of territory, but there is plenty of land adjacent to Halcyon, and Halcyon offers a variety of valuable food sources and water.  I feel I’ve exclusive rights to my mere 3500 square feet.

It is not just space allocation rights that I am arguing here.  Recall the mother hen story.  Did you help me move rocks this past winter and spring to build my beds?  Did you help me haul soil up from the floodplain to fill my beds?  Did you help me plant my seedlings and watch over them anxiously for those first precious cotyledons to appear?  Did you help me set my seedlings outside and water carefully and protect them from late spring frosts?  And weeding!  My word, did you help me weed and haul mulch to protect my plants from competition?  Do you see where I’m going with this?

So imagine my frustration when I return from vacation to find my garden eaten.  By you!  You ate the beans down to one inch of stem, and half of each tomato plant.  You ate the pumpkin leaves and broccoli.  You ate the kiwi leaves and raspberry leaves.  Given your lack of help in producing these plants, I feel you’ve no right to eat them.

I know you want to eat well and feed your lovely young.  I want the same for my family.  Given your lack of responsibility regarding the existence of those desirable plants inside the fence, I must insist that you go elsewhere.  Since the stinky deer repellent did not work, I see only two options:  I get better fencing or I learn how to hunt.  After careful consideration, I’d like you to beware that I will be installing an electric fence.

In closing, I’d like to add that I have not included in this letter any of the expletives I normally use to address you.  I am trying to exercise neighborly restraint.  However, I’m only human and if you don’t take your “only deer” fence-hopping, garden-browsing tendencies elsewhere I will be forced to take drastic measures.  I may not hunt, but I have friends that do.


Caretaker of Halcyon

This bean trellis should be full of biomass by now.
This bean trellis should be full of biomass by now.
Deer-browsed broccoli
Deer-browsed broccoli


6 thoughts on “Dear Deer”

  1. If your deer could read, I’m sure they’d be very, very afraid! Do you want me to go buy you some beans, tomatoes and broccoli at Walmart to make you feel better? ; )


    1. Thanks for the offer Ellie, but I don’t think it would help. My electric fence has arrived. Once it is up and running, I will plant a fall garden.


  2. Deer beware. Lisa is getting serious. You can feel the restraint. Good luck with your electric fence and fall garden. I am sorry about your situation but thoroughly enjoyed reading your story.


    1. Thanks Drusie! I haven’t even brought up the voles and moles yet. I’m not totally defeated. I still might get tomatoes and beans and I’m starting over next spring.


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