My favorite winged friend, a small purple house finch, spent the summers of 2012 and 2013 singing his beautiful song: jibber jabber jibber jabber…beer beer beer, at least that’s what I thought he was saying. It could have been deer deer deer. Either way I miss him and hope he’s ok somewhere or at least had a peaceful lift off.

This property is located in a Biological wasteland of thousands of acres of dry wheat: a postage stamp oasis in a sea of Agricide. It is becoming an oasis for wild animals to find food, water and shelter from the alternative. We welcome the mule tail and white tail deer that visit our property.

Deer Fall 2012 - Copy

The following information demonstrates the permaculture principal of Observation (deer behavior and seasonal movements through the property) to establish abundance for ourselves and the deer.

 

Early Spring:

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Deer mostly rely upon herbaceous succulents such as newly emerging grasses, Alfalfa, Salsify and Lactuca serriola (the mother of the Billion $ lettuce industry). They are also very cautious about coming too close to the interior of the property at this time. This is when we plant new spring trees and shrubs.

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Mid July in the desert: these succulents begin to dry up and die back around the perimeter of the property, while those plants closer in, receive shade and take advantage of the moist mulched soil, tend to stay green longer. Hunger and practicality drive the deer in.

 

Late June through July:

First phase: we allow some foraging of yearling trees and shrubs in the first (or second) year of establishment. Spring plantings get tomato cages with re-used landscape cloth for shade.

 

Trimmed Golden Current2 - Copy

willow tomato cage

Signal to the plants: Grow more roots!

Late July, Early August

Phase Two: the tomato cages go and larger, taller more permanent cages are installed. This allows growth without too much deer trimming. Some lateral branches grow outside the cage, those are fair game.

 

lateral branch trimming

 

The top tender shoots are protected in both cases by using dried tumbleweed inserted into the top of the cages. Deer have a difficult time pushing the dried sharp branches aside and simply move on to food sources easier to harvest.

willow tumbleweed2

current with tumbleweed

 

Phase Three: cut wire, slip the cage up vertically and re-attach wire to metal stand post. The top of the cage is now 1 Foot above new potential growth.

 

Phase 3

A foot of space is available at the bottom for the Deer to forage. In this dry climate that is generally where the most prolific growth is happening (out of direct sun and wind).

Profuse lower growth

Deer eat the lowest branches: Signal: Grow Tall

 

Final Phase: remove the cage altogether. The sapling is now a full-fledged tree or large shrub and capable of handling the moderate grazing.

cage & no cage

See that crazy weather beaten cloth? I know, it looks completely ghetto or Arkansas, pick your language. Either way the benefit of living so remotely is we don’t have to succumb to pretense anymore…as in HOA or other idiotic nonsense. Yes we are very familiar with granite counter tops, pendant lights, latest color, floating sinks, Brazilian hard wood floors (I staged homes in the Seattle area).

Old cloth gets recycled to grow Oak trees like the one inside this cloth. At 1800′ elevation and an inland Orographic of 200 miles from the Pacific Ocean – the sun is a killer – for young trees. The cloth performs its function, degrades and goes back into the soil.

Deer

Deer possess complex nutritional needs; which vary throughout the season and are very much dependent upon age, sex and weight. Removing too much of the forage they have come to rely on is not “living in concert with the universe”. Especially in this situation, especially this time of year.

In order to offer them a larger variety of foods, which are not normally available this time of year I set up an experiment to find out if providing them with extended foods is possible.

Here’s a typical field of August Salsify

salisfy field late July

An area was selected for its abundance of salsify and Lactuca serriola, chopped and dropped while some green material was still present.

The plants were not pulled because the root systems need to stay intact.

Pulling plants up by the roots does create fast carbon pathways for soil microbes and worms and we practice a combination where appropriate.

Start the sprinkler to hydrate the area and leave it on for the entire process.

Layer: chop & drop, ½” straw, horse manure, 2” – 3” additional straw mulch.

Completed chop & drop bed

Keep the area from drying out for one to two weeks, long enough for the “weeds” to re-emerge.

Here’s a pic of new regenerating Lactuca three days later.

New Lactusa

Here’s a shot of heavily grazed Lactuca

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There’s a lot to learn about deer movements and behavior in a new location like this one. I want to work with Alfalfa seeds harvested from the property and placed along the drip lines this week. We’ll see what happens. In the mean time we have a new ‘game cam’ set up in the grape arbor. Pictures will be posted.

thanks for reading,

cheers,

sheila

So much for the game cam!

I took these pictures out of the bedroom window 6am this morning – after I posted this last night

 

Grazing

 

 

From Bedroom window