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Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.



Monday, February 23, 2015

Forget Bambi - what does Faline do?

What do our local White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus texanus) do when night falls, the temperatures drop, and it begins to rain?  Though I rarely see bucks once the rut is over, the female members of the herd are routinely seen hunkered down in a favored spot to wait out daylight and hopefully, warmer temperatures.  (I call this herd "local" because the vast majority of their browsing grounds are contained within though not confined by the geopolitical boundaries of our subdivision.)

One doe in particular seems to have developed a fondness for a patch of ground cover in the unfenced area out front.  I've spotted her there repeatedly, and over the years she has occasionally left fawns there to hide while she was out foraging.
So it was no surprise very early this morning when I noted the motion activated driveway light flipping on periodically, it was because of her.
Is THIS why we call them garden "beds"?
The doe (probably pregnant) stayed quietly in place while the skies lightened, street traffic picked up, and eventually left only after my daughter took her car (parked very close nearby) to leave for morning classes.
Ambient temperatures aside, this bed is sheltered by mature live oak trees overhead and cushioned by a collection of spring-fueled freshly regrown groundcovers underneath.  As outdoor accommodations go, it is not only downright comfy, but the decor is very tasteful.  In every sense of that word.
Is it any wonder the plants out front are nibbled on with regularity?  As far as this doe and her herd are concerned, our front yard is the white-tail equivalent of a three star hotel offering an ongoing "all you can eat" banquet.  

I splash a lot of virtual ink here angrily gritching and moaning about white-tail deer eating, stomping on, and antlering my plants. This time of year, I have a much harder time getting similarly worked up.  At the moment I feel we can all focus on surviving winter first, and once the weather warms for good then we'll see where that finds us.

As you were, little mamas-to-be, as you were.  Carry on and keep warm.

19 comments:

Tina said...

You have a good attitude about the foraging females and their eventual offspring. I know it must be frustrating when they treat your hard-won gardening as a salad bar, but it's very good and gracious of you to accept their comfort at your expense.

TexasDeb said...

Tina: If I am going to say "I garden for the wildlife" and mean it, that has to include ungulates.

Planting in numbers large enough to attract pollinators AND to withstand deer browse has come to represent what "success" looks like for my area. It took me way too long to see that, but better late, yes?

Kris Peterson said...

Probably because my garden has never been troubled by deer, it's hard for me to find offense when I see them in photographs. Now, if I could just develop a similar sense of charity toward raccoons and skunks...

TexasDeb said...

Kris: We have raccoons and skunks but not in significant numbers relative to the deer population. Throw in a few armadillos and that's our subdivision, minus the apex predators. The Burbs- a real live-not-so-wild Kingdom.

Pam/Digging said...

I have mixed feelings about the deer too. Mostly I grumble when I see them traipsing up and down the street (I have yet to catch any bedding down in the sedge lawn). But now and then a spotted fawn, or twins, will have me oohing and aahing. But what I really oohed over in this post is your star ornaments. I admired some of those at Thompson+Hanson nursery in Houston last spring. They're lovely!

TexasDeb said...

Pam: Thank you! I am super fond of those stars. They were an online order if you can believe that.

I was leery at the time but trusted the vendor and took a chance. At first I thought I'd be moving them around for weeks trying to find just the right spot but after leaving them where they are for 48 hours we never felt the need to try anywhere else. Though now that I've written that.....

dryheatblog said...

All you need is a pet mountain lion!

TexasDeb said...

DHB: Ha! You're right - a big cat prowling out front would certainly take care of any future deer visits. I'll have to talk to friends in Colorado, see what they can get lined up.

Kathleen Scott said...

Sweet post. I always felt conflicted about the deer inhabiting my gardens. The business about having babies in your yard is tough. Each female fawn has the potential to increase your yard's herd by two each year,,,

TexasDeb said...

Kat: Aw, thank you. It does not feel like a highly developed area such as my neighborhood is a great place for a herd of deer but there is just enough green space left around us they seem to make it work. Regardless, they are here, they will eat, and I am the one who will be making the adjustments, or paying the price when I don't.

Debra said...

The eyes ... love the spooky shine. She really does look at home in that spot and I am sure she appreciates the turn down service and decor. =)

TexasDeb said...

Debra: WIth all the attention paid to that "bed" we have done everything but leave a mint (plant) on the pillow.

Those "I can see in the dark" shiny eyes are a bit spooky I agree. If I came across a herd of them at night and could not see much aside from their shiny eyes moving around? I'd be telling ghost stories for weeks afterwards about The Glowing Menace in the Woods.

Pam/Digging said...

I just noticed how well the stars echo the form of the agaves in the background. That's why you haven't felt the need to move them. They're already perfectly placed!

TexasDeb said...

Pam: Thank you, and you are quite right. I don't have agaves in the back and though I'd originally thought to put the stars back there, they simply worked where they are. In addition?

The stars sitting up close to the live oaks, especially in the weeks to come, are hopefully offering some sort of totemic protection for the noses within the house here. Because to me they look a lot like grains of the world's largest pollen. Pollen that cannot fit even into MY nose, and will thereby be noninvasive to my personal being. Get your facial tissues ready, people!

Anna said...

Beautiful photos. Love the glowing eyes!

TexasDeb said...

Anna: Thank you! The flash from night vision creatures is always a little spooky looking to me when caught in the camera lens.

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

I am with you....I let the deer alone to survive however they can in winter...imagine the deer here surviving -20 windchills and average highs in the single digits....we saw 5 of them yesterday so they are surviving...so bulked up with their heavier coat and fat stores.

TexasDeb said...

Donna: There are few choices here aside from fencing to keep free roaming deer from eating, sleeping, and tromping wherever they will. I don't so much "let" them be as I am learning to let it go that I have no choice in the matter! : )

Rock rose said...

I am fortunate that the deer have been excluded from my garden but I do love to see them out there. I find it amusing to drive through Westlake and see herds of them lying on peoples lawns-particularly in summer when the watered grass provides a cool spot for them to sit. You have reminded me about the time of year when they rub their antlers. That is more damaging than anything-esecially to young trees. And the marks on agaves which will be borne for life. But who can resist that fawn settled cosily in among the oaks sprouts in your garden. I am glad you have such a good attitude to their presence.