Friday, January 27, 2012

Wildlife Bed And Breakfast

Let's see, would this be considered red-faced or red-handed? I think both!
If you have been following my journal for very long, you might remember that I have a population of groundhogs that makes my life challenging when it comes to planting a vegetable garden. It is so very frustrating to figure out what they won't be interested in eating. I thought it was safe to plant tomatoes, as I never saw any evidence of their activity, such as half-eaten tomatoes on the ground. That all changed this past summer, when I captured this moment with the rodent of unusual size!

I am very blessed to live in a beautiful, quiet, rural setting in the rolling hills of southern Pennsylvania, and I pray I will have the opportunity to stay here for many years, in the home that Buck and I planned and built together. We worked so hard to get here! The first time we surveyed our little piece of heaven from the center dormer of our unfinished second floor, I got emotional as I shared my thoughts with Buck. I told him that as we started our home-building journey, I had a mental picture in my mind of what our dream home might be like, and this wasn't it. Buck had a visible question mark on his face, waiting to hear what I was going to say next. As I looked at the landscape that lay before us, I was overwhelmed by the wondrous gift from God that we had been given! Truly, this was not the home I had envisioned; it was so much more than I ever dreamed we would have to enjoy! The Lord and Buck provided for me so well!

Home Sweet Comforting Home!

Although I dearly love my home and it brings me great comfort just being here, the location has introduced some challenges, being in close proximity to surrounding farmland. Being a country girl, I am always glad to see the native wildlife (except for groundhogs, of course). Last weekend, while at my computer, I saw seven foxes from my living room window. And although I haven't seen them yet, my neighbors have informed me that there is a population of skunks in our area as well.  In the end of November, I discovered another destructive presence that I was not at all happy about.

So much for sentimental value! All that remains of my beloved tree.
When Buck's obituary was published, in it, I had requested that in lieu of flowers, any contributions could be made to support a much loved charity organization. I knew the room where Buck would be laid out would be very stark as a result. My sister and brother wanted to know what they could do, so, I asked them to provide two  4' tall Leland Cyprus trees to symbolize Buck's love of the outdoors. I later planted the trees on the back corners of my property.

One day, I noticed that I couldn't see one of the trees from my kitchen window. Upon checking on my dearly loved tree, I was shocked to see that nearly all the branches were broken and only the treetop was still in tact. My first thought was: "Wow, I didn't know that freak snowstorm we had in October would do that kind of damage to a young tree!" I was heartbroken, as that tree had great sentimental value to me, but I grieved and moved on.

Big bald spot! I wonder if this one will survive.
The next day, I couldn't believe my eyes, when I noticed that the other tree had a large bald spot right smack in the center of it! This destruction had taken place over-night. It was then that I realized that this was deer damage, and I was not a happy camper!  Often, whenever we would go hiking, Buck had taught me what deer sign looked like. There was no doubt in my mind that a buck had either rubbed the velvet from his rack or was marking his territory while he destroyed my cherished trees. I know (my) Buck would  have been very excited about finding evidence like this, but I was not at all enthused! I was angry! That also explained my missing perennials in the front yard.

That evening, after dark, the thought came to me that I should look outside. I thought I might catch a glimpse of the buck, if he was busy polishing his rack and trashing my tree again. I was not prepared for what I found instead. Just as cozy as could be, were three does bedded down in my lush, green lawn. Up until that moment, I had always welcomed any deer sightings, but now, my attitude had changed and I perceived them as trespassers! Their boyfriend was responsible for killing my tree and I wasn't about to put out the welcome mat. I know they were enjoying the tall, tasty grass since I had not cut it in several weeks and planned to leave it alone till spring. What a cushy, comfortable bedroom they had found! Jackpot! Wildlife Spa! They could rest and eat at the same time.

Now, I was on a mission to discourage their return. Come daylight, I did the only thing I could think to do. It seemed really weird to be mowing the lawn on December 1st, but I had to do something to make my environment less appealing! Then rifle season started in Pa. and my house-guests were smart enough to vacate the premises and stay hidden until last night, when I saw them in a neighbors field.

Having thought about it, I decided that I needed an attitude adjustment and concluded that I am the trespasser here, since the deer were here before we changed the landscape.  I will just have to figure out how to protect any future plantings. I found fresh deer tracks in my resting, manure-covered garden today, so, I suppose I will need to learn how to build fences in the spring. Such is life in the country.


  1. Renee, I SO much miss country life. We lived in the country for 22 years (next door to my parents). Every day sometimes twice a day my dad would call to tell me it was time to look out the window because the deer were getting ready to walk across our yard.

    During the summer months I loved to watch the turkey buzzards playing in the wind currents overhead. Or I'd watch them while I walked back in the back area of out land where I'd created an oval walking path. I prayed many a prayer back there.

    I had to sell both places (we owned our parents' home) because there was no way that I could take care of almost 14 acres of land and the upkeep on 2 homes. I live in town now, but found a place that has a view of nothing but trees from my back door that gives me the feel of still being out in the country. Last month much to my amazement one morning there were 2 does right up beside my patio - a gift from God.

    We had problems with rabbits and deer both eating our garden.

    Your dream home is absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing that photo. For some reason I had envisioned a log cabin or a cottage.

  2. Renee, I am so sorry that you, too, have come up against the deer problem. Since my neighbor is a hunter, I have not had this problem lately, but I have had to learn which shrubs and flowers deer do not like. I do have to apply Deer-Out to the tulips when their little shoots start to appear. It's not the leaves but the tender blossom shoots that the deer love. I am happy to live in the country also, but I know what you mean about sharing it with the wildlife.

  3. Great Post Renee! Loved it. We live in a neighborhood in out little town, not so rural, but we live IN the forest. We live in a canyon in the mountains to be precise, so we get all matter of wild life. All of our back yard chainlink fences are mashed down from the bears coming over!! LOl.
    Sorry they got your trees honey. Maybe you could plant two more in the spring in his honor and then put up REALLY tall circular fences around them.....

  4. What a lovely home you and Buck designed and built. I hope you are able to stay there and enjoy your life for many years to come. I recently read on someone's blog that they were using a product called 'liquid fence'. Have you heard of it? Maybe it would work for you.

    Love and hugs to you ~ FlowerLady