Twenty fuzzy butts, and what’s with the deer?

Yesterday, my daughter and I opened up the cats’ house and set up the extension cord I found that is safe to use in there. The heated water bowl had been knocked over again, by the time we got out there, which meant the cats had no liquid water available. They hovered around us the entire time we worked, then when everything was set up and the bowls refilled, they came running! They were so thirsty. I made sure to put water in all the bowls, so more could get at water at the same time.

Then I topped up the kibble trays and even more cats came running! I counted 19. Only Ghost Baby was unseen.

Not this morning!

I counted 20 furry butts this morning! All are accounted for.

Also, the heated water bowl had just an inch or two of water in it when I came out this morning, and no ice. Awesome!

I decided to leave the chimney insert where it was. The cats like to climb up and sit on it, plus the little ones can even go inside it for extra shelter, if necessary.

While doing the rest of my rounds, I noticed deer tracks all over the yards around the house. In some areas, it seems they are checking out the different crab apple, and even the plum trees. There is no fruit on any of them for the deer to find, this winter.

They are even digging into the compost pile. I would not have expected them to try and eat the potato plants in there! Do deer normally try to eat things in the nightshade family???

You can see from the tracks that they’re walking right through the half-finished low raised bed. That one was left with a trench down the middle, where we will add more compostable scraps before the bed gets finished in the spring. That’s where most of the frost damaged aloe vera plants ended up, though there are kitchen scraps in it, too. The deer are not digging in this bed, though. Just walking through it! The garlic beds, at least, are being left alone.

I had an unfortunate surprise, though. While looking at the deer tracks in the trees at the south fence along the spruce grove, I saw them going past the little cedar tree we’d found, and the remains of the mulberry tree we’d planted in the spring (only for it to get killed by that one cold night in May that is also why we had no crab apples, plums, chokecherries or Saskatoons this year). I’d asked my mother about the cedar tree, and she knew nothing about it, so I don’t know who planted it there or when, but it had clearly been there at least few years longer than we have been living here.

This year, for some reason, the deer decided to eat it. The twigs and branches are completely stripped. Not only that, but it looks like they even ate the remains of the mulberry tree! We had left it alone, so it was still in between support stakes, but the deer still managed to get at it.

Even the pile of bush bean plants in the garden that was waiting to be buried in garden plots next spring has been dug into more. There doesn’t seem to be much left at all.

We’ve had such a long, mild fall and, even with the one blizzard we’ve had, things have still been very mild and there’s not a tremendous amount of snow, by any means. This early in the winter, there is still lots of food available for the deer that is easy for them to get at. We haven’t see the deer in our yard, just their tracks, but we do see them along the roads or the occasional trial cam file, and they are still quite plump and hearty looking.

So why are they acting like they are starving? And going for things like the cedar, which they completely ignored for years?

I suppose it’s possible the cedar will still survive and regrow in the spring, but it seems so strange that they would have gone for it now.

One thing is for sure. When we finally do start planting our fruit and nut trees and berry bushes, we’re going to have to make sure they are well protected from the deer!

Also, it gives us even more incentive to plant forage trees, beyond the outer yard, so the deer will have less reason to come after trees closer to the house.

The Re-Farmer

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