Living in the country has its advantages and its disadvantages. One of the advantages is that I can choose to do things I could not do in a more urban setting.
The idea of becoming a country “farmer” was one of the attractions that caused us to flee the big city. (I apologize, in advance, to the real farmers who work very hard but are sometimes blindsided by nature, causing a serious dent in their livelihood.) I am not one of them, but the idea of having the freedom to do what I wish on my own land put me in touch with my ancient ancestors. However, I now know even novices such as myself, can suffer negative consequences over which I have no control.
I have been known to often bite off more more than I can chew. I think this is a common trait for we planters of the crops who, with little or no experience, decide to play in the big leagues. My first attempt at serious gardening several years ago was quite modest and yielded modest results. Thus, every since, I have enlarged my garden, bragged about what a great gardener/farmer I was and eagerly looked forward to an even larger garden the next year. This year was to be an exception.
My next door son-in-law, who was now smitten with the idea of also playing with the big boys and planting an even larger garden than mine. He and I got our heads together and agreed on a compromise. I would plant corn, okra and peas and he would plant the fancy stuff … tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, squash, peppers. It sounded good to me. My choices would be much easier to take care of than his, so it was a win-win situation in my book. Unfortunately, nature intervened.
My son-in-law and his sons spend many weekends at a hunting camp each year for the “advertised” intention of putting meat on the table. Most of we men would find this intention somewhat suspect. Sadly, his weekend hunting forays did not meet with success this past deer season. Either that or … the deer decided to take up residence on our land.
My beautiful crop of Silver King corn, spineless okra and bush peas was a sight to behold. Our gardens both looked as though they would feed both of our families through the winter months.
His announcement that something was eating his plants was troubling. Our gardens were quite close to each other so I rejoiced that I was apparently being spared the nibblings of what we thought were a few rabbits. Our neighbor’s announcement about seeing a large deer in my son-in-law’s garden late one night was also troubling. As the next few days passed, we found more and more deer footprints in his garden and less and less garden produce. I realized it was just a matter of time until they enlarged their nightly buffet to include my corn, okra and peas.
No problem, I thought. I installed a motion-detector operated floodlight that would light up my garden area if the munchers decided to invade my garden. Several times each night the light would come on, but I could never see anything moving. However, I did notice in the mornings that something was trampling my peas while the voracious eaters feasted on my okra. I would not have thought deer would be so brazen as to eat in a well-lit garden. Wrong!
Last night was the clincher. During one of my several trips to the indoor outhouse, I noticed the floodlights were on. I went to the living room and looked out of the window toward the garden area. The bright lights revealed a parade of deer eating their way through first, my son-in-law’s garden, and then ambling their way over to my garden. My clever scheme to protect my garden with bright lights simply made it easier for the deer to see what they were eating.
Between the deer, the recent hail storm and unseasonably high temperatures our gardens were a disaster. This morning, I fired up the tractor and leveled my garden. Soil-testing, fertilizing, planting, watering and weeding are no guarantee I can compete with the real farmers. Perhaps we can recoup our investment by turning our place into a hunting camp.