Wednesday, 20 January 2010
Bambi --- aka “The Usual”
I’ve been asked how we live off our vegetables with three feet of snow covering our garden. We dig for them. When Amber needed carrots to roast with a chicken I dug a trench three foot deep and twenty feet long to look for them. It took a few tries but I was able to find the carrots, well preserved under the snow. They were more delicious when baked than you can imagine.
Now that the snow is melted, so that we have less than a foot, we’re back to our battle with Bambi. Last night he came by and ate the remains of the sprouting broccoli, leaving only turds. He’s been a pest since his home, a nearby forest was clearcut. A couple of months ago the deer located Cottarton and stripped all the vegetables except the leeks. I have a reputation as a non-violent, anti-gun, anti-violence sort of bloke, but when the deer attack by veggies, I start seeing strips of venison hanging in my shed. Zackary already showed me where I need to build a deer platform, so that I can sit comfortably all night, a bottle of whisky by my side, gun in one hand and a lantern in the other, and root out Bambi. The problem is that nights are beastly cold --- can be -5 Celsius, and I like my sleep. But --- it’s not a bad idea if nothing else works, and we could have a good supply of venison.
You can buy venison at certain butchers, but not legally. The reasons may have to do with health rules, EU rules or something else. Forty years ago, my mother learned to buy venison from a butcher down the road. While standing in line she noticed a couple of people ahead of her asked the butcher for “the usual”. The butcher responded by giving them a wrapped bundle of unidentified meat from the back room, actually venison. He charged very little. So, mama also asked for, “the usual” and brought it home. We all loved the venison; had it regularly for a month or two, until the morning when mama went in search of “the usual”, but found the butcher’s shop closed down, a police padlock on the door. Later the Perth newspaper reported how the butcher was busted for selling poached venison.
Until Zack builds me the platform, or I scroung up the funds for a deer fence, or employ a pack of wolves to chase off the deer, I’m building an electric fence on two sides of the property where I think they are getting in. Roe deer, the most likely offenders, are quite good at jumping livestock fences, even without taking a run at them. From their snow tracks I located where they jumped the fence. Yesterday I strung out two strands of polywire, one above the fence the other knee level. For bait I attached aluminium strips coated with peanut butter, and then fired up the electric charger.
A good jolt to the tongue might help the deer forget about my vegetables, but what do I know about deer psychology? Are they so determined to come in that they don't mind the old jolt? The electric fence is a technological solution to an old problem. We’ll see how it works.