Until about three years ago dogs were a constant companion in my life. I have had three German Shepards and an Irish Setter ~ Buck was his name, an incredibley heartfelt dog. When our last dog, Sara, a sweet German Shepard died of old age about three years ago, we experienced two changes: 1) We were one of the only families for a mile in every direction that did not have a dog. 2) Does began birthing their fawns at the Hat Ranch.
I suppose I should come right out with it, I like the deer. I wholeheartly agree that deer are not polite guests, when it comes to the vegetable garden; but that is what fences are for. When compared to cattle, horses, goats & sheep (the other prominent vegan residents of this landscape) deer have a much lower impact on the land, they have no maintenance requirements (other than the deer fence around the vegetable garden), & they can feed your family (if it comes to that). Deer are remarkably adaptable and fervently guard their independence. Their social tendencies compel them to gather with any animal that is not threatening. Humans (that's you & me) can actually win the confidence of the herd (I do not recommend this) and ultimately share in touch, but it takes alot of apples.
Plums, like the deer, are native to Southern Oregon & have naturalized here at the Hat Ranch. We started with a Thundercloud Plum (the classic purple leaf plum), which was followed by several Klamath Plums and now we have cross pollinated plums of various sizes, seasons and colors growing in more places than I can count. Given their enthusiastic willingness to grow, they have come to occupy the middle of our yard. Deer love the plums. On most mornings our tradition is to sit on the porch, talk over our plans for the day & drink tea. In the spring we are treated to a parade of does, seemingly eager to show us their new spotted fawns as they make their way to the plum trees.
We now have three year old deer migrating through our yard, that have known us from birth. There are does that we have named and bucks that sleep near the fig tree in late summer. We still keep a respectful distance, but from time to time I have had deer nearly land in my lap as they scurry to escape a neighbor walking their dog.
My good friend Ed offered me two supers and all the trimmings (spells like Thanksgiving), when he was forced to abandon a bee hive on Sauvie Island near Portland, Oregon. The swarm had died, so it was an easy task to bring the boxes home, once I carved them out of the blackberry patch. I knew nothing about bees when Ed presented me with this gift, but I figured I would set it up when I got home. So I chose a spot in a low traffic area of the Vegetable Garden, and forgot about it. In the spring, much to our amazment, a swarm moved into the hive! This turn of events inspired an investigation of the new tenants.
The first thing I learned was that bees are not the swaggering tyrants my Mother portrayed to me as a child (it was for my own good)! It's funny how those things stick with you. The main thing about bees is that you don't want to pinch them. The other thing about them is: they have an incredibley acute sense of smell. It extends from the distinct scents of flowers into the pheromones, the behaviorally triggered scents of animals. When you are fearful you release pheromones. So if you become fearful, bees perceive your fear (not good!) ~ Stay Calm ~ Approach bees at peace, don't pinch them ~ and you'll be fine. ....to be continued>>>>