Field Notes Volume 2 | Number 11 August 22nd, 2014

Animals in the farmyard?! Part 2

by Sky Harman

Baby animals are cute. There is nothing more to say about that, other than baby animals grow up to be big animals and sometimes they arenÂ’t so cute anymore, or sometimes they stay cute but donÂ’t act nice or play well with others. Sometimes teenagers are like that. I was and IÂ’m guessing some of you were too. In those cases we just have to hope they grow out of it. Some animals never do.

Sheriff Moses guarding a chick

Sheriff Moses guarding a chick

Around the farm there are a lot of cute animals, some babies, so big and not so cute. At Ridgeway the Cheat Lake site, there are a pair baby fawns just losing their spots these days, who look up with innocent eyes when we drive up to the farm. Their mother and the rest of the herd of anywhere between 10 and 30 deer look up the same way, and over the years they have lost their fear of people, and even expect people to feed them. One of the first times I was ever in the field there, I spotted some deer and tried to scare them away, by throwing rocks in their direction, but they just thoughtfully looked at me and walked my way hope that the rock was something to eat.

Maybe at first they thought the garden was such a place. When we began the season there, we planted things that I wouldnÂ’t have thought deer would eat, especially when there was so much green growth around- Tomatoes, Peppers- Hot and sweet, and Squash. Things seemed fine for a while, then one day 2 plants had been topped, then 2 more, then all of them- 300 tomato plants and 500 pepper plants. Out at Owl Creek, since I thought I knew the deer, I wasnÂ’t as concerned, but less than a week after they had struck at Ridgeway, they jumped the electric fence out at Owl Creek and ate 200 pepper plants with almost ripe peppers hanging below. Needless to say deer have been an issue this season. At Ridgeway, we completed an 8 foot fence a week after the deer struck. It has still been a work in progress (with the occasional deer running headlong through the fence), but the deer stooped doing damage after they ate all of the peppers and tomatoes. Just the peppers and tomatoes. Luckily most of the plants have bounced back and pepper season is about to commence. 🙂

Sheriff Moses guarding the corn.

Sheriff Moses guarding the corn.

Deer are cute to some people. They might look cute to me too when the light shines on them just right, but inside them I see a menace. Maybe thats just me, but around here we have a problem with the deer. There are too many walking around hungry, without much to fatten them up and plenty to sample in peoples yards and gardens. Combine that with the fact that it is more or less illegal to hunt them by normal means in many of these areas and we find ourselves with a problem.

IÂ’ve been speaking with the DNR about our problem, but they donÂ’t seem as concerned as I am (maybe because the deer pay their paychecks and not myself).

Moses loves deer. He loves to chase them and I am pretty sure he would love to eat them too. Sometimes he gets awfully close. Whenever I see the fawns around I make sure to give them a long head start before he goes after them, because even if they are baby vegetable eating machines I would feel awfully bad if he caught one. Now when the deer see Sheriff Moses come around they start running, because they know that if they donÂ’t move fast enough he might just catch them.

Moses is rather fond of chickens. We have 25 baby chicks at the house, and theyÂ’ll be out on pasture up at Rdgeway in the next couple of weeks. More details on this to follow.

As it is now, the deer are still around and hopefully the fences and sheriff Moses will keep them at bay until the DNR gets it together and we start to manage the herd.

Cheers- Farmer Sky

CSA pick-list

Tomatoes – Heirlooms, red slicers.
Cherry Tomatoes- Pink- Sun Peach, Orange – Sungold, Yellow- White Cherry, Red – Nectar, Bunched Red – MattÂ’s Wild, Red/Black – Black Cherry. Enjoy!
Green Onions- Enjoy!
Kale- Enjoy!
Parsley- Try freezing, for tasty herbs in winter
Basil- Just a bit, Enjoy!
Hot Peppers- Just a few for starters. Enjoy!

Baby goat at Ridgeway Farm, Daniel Richter - herdsman.

Baby goat at Ridgeway Farm, Daniel Richter – herdsman.