deerpeas

Peas. This was early on in the nightly buffet. It got much worse.

Note to self. When running down to Walla Walla to sign some important papers, and leaving in a hurry after trying to take care of the abundance of produce sitting in buckets, in the root cellar, and still on the vine, DON’T LEAVE THE GARDEN GATE OPEN when you leave. I was gone for about 36 hours. When I returned, just at dusk on September 27th, I could SEE the deer’s ears sticking up on the far side of the flower bed. Insert many expletives later. Insert yelling at deer, who then proceeded to throw itself into the net fence trying to escape, ripping out most of the staples on that side.

deerchinesecabbage

Chinese cabbage, which I think I planted 4 times this year, as it succumbed to various bugs, critters and weather. It was just NOT meant to be.

After doing make shift repairs in the dark (while listening to the deer, down in the trees, snorting at me in protest – seriously!), I returned in the morning to survey the damage and make further repairs. It wasn’t too bad. Mostly just the snap peas trimmed off. Phew.

deerlettuce2

My lettuce was SO beautiful this spring that I thought I’d try for a fall crop as well. Nope!

Ahhhh, but never underestimate the effect of fresh garden produce on motivation. The deer, despite my best efforts, have managed to get into the garden pretty much every night since. Beautiful broccoli that was just starting to head? Toast. Gorgeous cauliflower just ready to harvest? Now totally missing its leaves. Lettuce just getting large enough to harvest a few leaves? Seriously pruned. Snap peas just starting to flower? Now only foot high stems. Spinach that I was able to harvest about 6 bags off of earlier? Now very very small. Kale, chard, cantaloupe, cabbage…you get the idea. I reorganized floating row covers onto the spinach, carrot and lettuce, crops that are cold hardy and might recover (though they will grow slowly now that the weather has cooled) when not constantly chewed on. I gave up on the broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage (boy my deer do love the cabbage family). They surprisingly left the tomatoes totally alone! I think I am FINALLY keeping them out, after repairing a tear in the fence that I would have had a hard time crawling through. My deer, evidently, also do the limbo.

deerkale

This was a purple cabbage. “Was” being the operative word here.

We had our first frost on October 7th, down to 28 degrees. Warm season crops that weren’t covered (cucumbers, melons, squash) were sacrificed to the deer and the gods of fall. Honestly, it really wasn’t that hard to say goodbye to the summer squash. Enough already. I’ve made every zucchini recipe I have. Twice!

deerradicchio

Radicchio, just starting to head. This one wasn’t a big deal, as I had decided not to harvest it anyway. Very few people in Spokane know what to do with it. Deer DO know what to do with it.

So, trying to accepting defeat gracefully, I set up my last farmers market table on the 12th, with a whole lot less produce than I had anticipated, and a slightly bitter taste in my mouth. But it was a great chance to say goodbye to some wonderful customers and vendors. It’s been a great season.

deerbroccoli

Only one thing to say about this. “Bastards”!

Now, if I could just get through processing all of these peppers (and apples, and pears from a neighbor’s abandoned tree, and Italian plums, and the last of the tomatoes). The end of the garden is easier to accept when there is still so darned much work to do.

Miles Away Farm Blog © 2011, where we’re miles away from making friends with “Bambi”, but are looking forward to lacto-fermented hot chili sauce this winter!

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