Hi, this is Chris a volunteer at the Red Bird Mission Grow Appalachia. I am a math teacher at Red Bird Christian School and live in staff housing on the Main Mission Campus. I did a few class projects last school year with our Coordinator, Justin Brock, and he convinced me to raise a garden in front of our house this year. I have never had my own garden before, but I have helped with family gardens.

Justin is excited that the Farmer's Market is Open!

Justin is excited that the Farmer’s Market is Open!

I grew up in North Alabama, Near the Tennessee River, so I was used to dealing with rabbits, raccoon and opossums in the garden, even the occasional armadillo was an issue; but I have never in my life seen as many deer as are around our campus in the Daniel Boone National Forrest. I was told by everyone I know here that I was fighting a loosing battle with the deer, but I figured I had the safest plot on campus and would not have issues. My house is pretty much in the center of the mission, and the area my garden is in is surrounded on all four sides by either buildings or houses; what could possibly go wrong. A high traffic area, lots of people around, security lights, pets in the neighborhood; I thought I was golden. I had this grand vision in my head that the other gardens on the perimeter of the Mission would be the best buffer for my garden there possibly ever could be. I was going to beat the deer at the garden game. I was going to come out on top and prove everyone wrong. Was…

My garden from my porch.

The first wave of the invasion happened a couple weeks ago. They snuck in under the cover of night while everyone was asleep and waged their guerrilla warfare on my well protected garden. I walked out early in the morning before heading out with Justin for the day and my raised beds had been trampled, tomato plants were missing their tops, all of the blooms on my potatoes were missing, every okra pod was gone, and every bloom and bean in six rows of half runners were gone. We hit the community store and the dollar stores for pie pans and old CDs. “A little racket and some flashing, reflected light will take care of your problem,” was the advice from an old timer here in the mountains. We found a huge Halloween decoration, a pirate skeleton, and stuck him up in the garden by the river near the Mission entrance. We walked away feeling like we had solved the problem. We were quite pleased with out resourcefulness. We had handled those stupid deer for next to no money at all. We walked away with big smiles thinking that the battle was won. Then my middle daughter, Emma, came home from a bike ride down by the river… “Hey, Dad… the deer are biting the toes on your scarecrow…”

I walked down to the gardens by the river, and sure enough, there they were. One of last year’s fawns was standing there with her own set of twins, eating away. Folks were walking right by them and it didn’t phase them. I started yelling and throwing rocks and sticks in the bushes to run them off. They took off to the river and I surveyed the damage. No blossoms on the tomatoes, squash trampled to mulch, cucumbers eaten out of the inside of the cages. Frustrated I walked on to the water melon patch. By the time I finished my walk I had counted a dozen deer, including 3 sets of twin fawns. We have been invaded. This is a full on occupation by the local deer herd.

On to the next phase of the counter attack. I bought repellent spray and went nuts with it. Our yard smelled like the Devil’s spice cookie recipe, and again, I was convinced we had fought them back. Until this morning… About six feet of popcorn and beans were eat to the ground, tomatoes trampled to nothing. This is getting to be a bit ridiculous… Our next option is solar powered, ultrasonic emitters with strobe lights. But at this point, if you have a suggestion, leave us a comment or send me (cvaughn@rbmission.org) or Justin (jbrock@rbmission.org) an email.