September 10, 2008

It Seems That The Elk Are Smarter Then I Am

I planted my garden with dreams of jars lined up along every shelf, bursting at the seams, enough to last until next years garden produce was ready to be canned. Beautiful jars of green beans, applesauce, pickles, salsa, spaghetti sauce.

I was gonna be stinking Caroline Ingalls.

So being the smart gardener that I am, I knew I needed a fence to keep the deer and elk from thinking I had planted their very own Roy's Chuck Wagon buffet. So I researched and priced and planned. We bought our netting, put it 6 feet tall, someone told me to put sticky fly traps on the four corners to keep them out too and we planted.

We put in cabbages, peppers, tons of tomatoes, green beans, peas, more beets than I knew what to do with, 2 different lettuces, pickles, fava beans, broccoli, dill, pumpkins and more. And we watered and waited and watched for our harvest to ripen.

But just as it began to produce food for us, it must have also produced an irresistible siren song for every herbivore within a 50 mile radius. Because pretty soon I was chasing off moles, raccoons, deer and herds of elk. I nervously watched my fence, all the while wondering how I would explain to the hunting officials why an elk had mysteriously died in my backyard right next to my baseball bat.

Maybe they like baseball?

So when my beans suddenly started to disappear as well as all the leaves around them I began to worry. But there were no breaks in the fence and surely they didn't jump over it. Maybe it was just a family of busy slugs.

Hey, I don't claim to be a genius.

But when I went out to check the garden tonight I found hoof prints in the soft dirt around my tomatoes, and most of my plants either trampled or eaten.

And behind me, a hole in my fence just the right size for a brave elk to walk right through.

I'm thinking elk meat in my freezer is sounding might tasty right about now.


Anonymous said...

OH NO!!! That's terrible. Maybe an electric fence might work ;p I did laugh out loud at the baseball remark. You are too funny.
I also spent time, money and had a dream. I am not sure what destroyed mine?? It was maybe bad soil or bugs?? I am determined to do better next year.

Halfmoon Girl said...

exactly- hide in your beans and get 'em, Gayle! I'm fighting off a colony of darn little bunnies- they are gnawing on my pumpkins. They are SO not cute!

Miriam said...

Oh wow, that stinks. Don't you hate it when you've worked SO HARD on the garden, only to have critters (who you can yell at, get mad at, chase away, threaten, wave the shot-gun at... and they still don't "get it") chomp it all up. Your "herd" makes my squirrels, skunks and voles look puney.

noelle said...

We had a big garden a few years ago. It was so much work for such a little return. We opted to go with a CSA the next year as working members (for a discount and lots of extra "bad" produce) and it has been sooooo much better. I do have those pickles and green beans and tomato sauce now. And frozen pummpkin puree and frozen melon cubes and frozen shredded zucchini and onions and peppers and all I need all winter long...almost all I need that is!

maudie-mae said...

One of the first comments I left on your blog had to do with washing green beans in the washing machine before canning them. And now there is a bit more gardening lore I can leave for you. The best way to keep wildlife out of your garden is to line the perimeter with human urine. I know you have a couple of little boys who would be willing to pee on the fence line for you, or you can collect the urine and pour it along your fence line. Another good way to do this a bit more modestly is taking the hair clippings from their haircuts and put it around the perimeter of your garden. You don't have to add this comment to your viewable ones, but those are home remedies I have heard about to keep wildlife out of your garden. Deer, elk and the like can jump a fence flat footed. You'd have to have a fence 10' tall to keep them out. Your other option is to get a dog--preferably a hunting breed--and one that's content to stay outside at night. That's what Daddy did when raccoons would ride the corn stalks down to get his corn. The beagles kept them out.

Kelli said...

I see Maudie Mae beat me to the punch! --also make sure your pee-ers have eaten some meat--I've been told that its the scent of carnivore urine that wards off the evil produce stealers!

EEEEMommy said...

Yeah! Me too! Not that we have an elk problem in Central Indiana, but I had the same visions and they have not come to fruition. Too much rain from early season thunderstorms followed by not enough rain. Bugs, disease, weeds,...and I got nothing! A few yummy tomatoes to enjoy in salads and on sandwiches, but nothing to put away for later. I didn't get a single zucchini which are supposed to be fool-proof, but a few of my friends lost their plants too, so at least I'm not the only "fool". I understand the frustration though!
I can't wait to read about your boys marking their garden territory next year! ;)

Laura L. said...

Last summer I tried to grow cherry tomatoes in my garden.
I was horrified when I noticed that some creature (deer) kept eating all of the green tomatoes.
Whatever it was would lop off entire sections of the plant.
I think I harvested only a handful of tomatoes all summer.
This summer I didn't even have the nerve to try.
Maybe I will have to try Maudie-Mae's suggestion. :)

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