Oh Deer!

It happens every year.  When you least expect it, a deer helps itself to a big serving of our garden.  Most of the time, they do it right before you planned to do some “anti-deer” work to prevent the damage.  When I decided a few Sundays ago that it was going to be the day to spray deer repellant on the plants in our front yard, it shouldn’t have surprised me that the night before, our local deer made a date to eat a few things in the area to be sprayed.  Just to remind me that they exist, just to remind me that they are smart.  Just to remind me that they have planted a bug inside our house…..it was if they were in the room when I announced my deer repellent plans a few weeks back.

The good news is that the deer in our area only have a couple of small gardens that they can get to on our property.  These gardens are in the front of the house.  The majority of our gardens are in the back of the house where we had a six-foot metal deer fence installed to keep them out.  The black metal fence snakes through the woods and seems invisible when all of the plants and trees are fully fleshed out during Spring, Summer and most of the Fall.  People tell us that a deer could jump our six-foot fence, but please don’t tell them that because they have never attempted it.  The fence allows us to plant a large amount of plants outside and not have to worry about damage from grazing deer.  The battle against the deer is only in the front of the property.  The front yard is the battle field.

Here’s the only rub when deer graze in the front yard.  Everything planted in the front yard was labeled “deer resistant” at the point of purchase.  The front gardens contain such deer downers as peony, bleeding hearts, boxwood, monarda and echinacea.  Plants that just don’t taste good to a deer…or so I thought.  I quickly realized that there aren’t any plants that are truly deer resistant.  These plants (like the Monarda that got eaten in the above pictures) are really just ones that deer don’t care for as part of a regular well-balanced deer meal, but if they are hungry enough, they will eat them.  So we do our best to keep our front gardens protected.  We continue to spray deer repellent a few times a month (it really works well) and, when the deer take time to have dinner in our garden, we do our best to trim the damage and hope that what they ate left a bad taste in their mouths.  A bad enough taste to stay away…..but it never is.

A Toad’s House Or Did We Buy Some Bad Real Estate?

This is a toad house.  Have you ever heard of such a thing?  Neither had we until someone commented on Acorns On Glen that I should buy this guy a house.  Remember our little half-inch toad friend?

So we are told that these little guys like a house built for them that they can live under and not worry about predators likes snakes to eat them up during the night.  We guess we understand…who wouldn’t like a house built for them when they are born or when they get married?  Even more, would you like to get eaten during the night by a snake?  The little ceramic houses also protect them from the elements….sun, rain, etc.

So if all thing go according to plan, we should have a toad or two living in the two apartments that we constructed in a very short amount of time….one in the back yard and one in the front yard.  This is what we hope our happy toad family looks like in their new home.  Think ‘Extreme Makeover, Home Edition’ for toads.

Let us know….good idea or a huge rip-off?  Each house cost $13…not a huge investment and if it is successful, how great would it be to see where our toads live and be able to point it out to all of our city friends.  If it doesn’t work, can’t you buy plastic toads at the garden supply store and try to trick all your friends into believing they are real?  We’ll keep you posted on how they are received by the toad community.  I’m off to buy an ab cruncher and a few knives off the television.  Aren’t they guaranteed for success as well….just like the toad houses?  What do you think….will toads move in or will we have a vacancy all the rest of the Summer?

What’s Blooming – Another Virtual Garden Tour

This is a little added bonus that we found as we were walking around looking at what was blooming in the garden.  Don’t be fooled.  This little toad was no more than a half an inch long….a baby.  When I was a little boy, my Grandma would always pull me aside when I yelled at the sight of a toad and give me the benefits of seeing them in your vicinity.  They eat bugs that devour your garden.  They save our garden.  Be happy when you see one near your garden.  So I will take her long ago given advice and be happy that our little friend is out protecting our garden.  Lot of plants are peaking in our garden right now.  Let’s enjoy a little virtual garden tour of what’s blooming.  Come with us….and Mr. Baby Toad.

We hope that you enjoyed our little virtual tour.  After a heavy rain this Friday night, things are looking pretty good and there is no need for us to haul the sprinklers out.  Let’s hope that we can continue to alternate between full sun and then some rain.  It sure makes things stay in bloom a lot longer.  What is blooming in your garden right now?

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words – Critters I Like

This is the kind of critters I like to see on Glen Road.  The stone kind.  The kind that doesn’t jump, hiss, run, slither or scurry.  They just sit there and do absolutely nothing.  Sort of what we did this weekend after our July 4th party.  What critter horror stories do you have to share here at Acorns On Glen?

Critter Alert – What Is It?

This is what I found on the granite posts that support our espalier apple trees.  What the hell is it?  A larvae of some sort with some fur or hair sticking out on the bottom.  When I saw this on the post, I almost threw up.  Again, what don’t I like?  What’s my least favorite part of living in the woods of Connecticut?  Yes, the critters.  It can be as big as a beaver or as small as a hairy larvae, but the site of something like this from nature sets me free.  I don’t really know when my critter fears began.  As a kid I was always one with nature.  I caught frogs and toads, tried to catch fish with my hands, used to watch the pheasant and quail fly around in the fields behind my house.  Something changed and all I know now is that there is no joy…there is just a rush of heat through my body as my natural instincts instruct me to run for safety.  It’s the weirdest thing.

The larvae has to be related to the caterpillar I found on the other side of the post.  As a young kid, I would have grabbed the caterpillar, rubbed its furry little body and maybe put it into a jar with air holes poked into the top to watch it turn into a moth or a butterfly.  Now, I attach the telescopic lens to my camera and zoom in from across the yard to get the picture.

Here’s what I’m hoping.  Maybe the larvae and caterpillar have something to do with the luna moth that was stuck to the side of the house for so many days last month.  Maybe the luna gracefully flew to the granite post to leave one more generation of its beautiful family and this is what I found.  With my critter luck, I know that this caterpillar probably produced the larvae and out will come some hideous moth with fangs, a large wasp with a six-inch stinger or some strain of garden eating worm.  Let’s pray for the luna moth!

So rest assured that I will be hitting the internet this afternoon trying to figure out what is stuck to the espalier posts.  I may even go to the book store and buy a moth/butterfly book to see if I can figure out what is growing in the back.  I pray it is not something hideous so I won’t have to go out there and knock it off the post.  That would mean the neighbors would get to see another round of me screaming and running around like a crazy person.  If you know what this is, please leave me a comment.  In other words…..What is it?

A Miracle Turns Ugly

This is a waterfall that I never knew existed.  In a recent post about Spring, I had mentioned that I had taken a long walk on Glen Road.  Our dog, JoJo, joined me as well.  It was a nice feeling being out on a beautiful Spring-like day and it was the perfect opportunity to get JoJo out for a walk.  She loves the out of doors and this Winter has not given her much of an opportunity to get out and about.  After a few new twists and turns from the path we normally take, I began to hear the sound of splashing and running water.  As I walked towards the sound, the water noises began to get louder and louder.  Rounding the corner, I came across a little miracle….a waterfall.  Maybe water from the swollen creek coming over a dam built by some busy beavers?  I had no idea that this waterfall existed.  Maybe it was just created by the melting winter snow and rain?  I stood there taking these pictures thinking about how something so lovely and peaceful could just pop up out of nowhere.  JoJo stood there in silence as well.  I think she was as surprised as I was that something so beautiful existed so close to home.  This is like a story about life, really.  The fact that you never know what you will see when you round a corner or start a new chapter in your own life.  Nature, in particular for me, gives me miracles almost every day if I look for them.  A sprouting seed, a tomato on a vine, a butterfly, a waterfall.  All signs that wonderful things are out there if you are aware and in the moment.

As JoJo and I ventured closer to the dam itself, it did indeed appear to have many traits that told us this was the work of a beaver.  Beavers are known for their natural trait of building dams on rivers and streams, and building their homes (known as “lodges”) in the resulting pond.  Beavers also build canals to float build materials that are difficult to haul over land.  They use powerful front teeth to cut trees and other plants that they use both for building and for food.  In the absence of existing ponds, beavers must construct dams before building their lodges. First they place vertical poles, then fill between the poles with a crisscross of horizontally placed branches.  They fill in the gaps between the branches with a combination of weeds and mud until the dam impounds sufficient water to surround the lodge.  This dam and the waterfall over it was spectacular.  A couple more shots from the path and then JoJo and I would be ready to walk again knowing that we would absolutely come back soon.  I picked JoJo up and we began to walk.  Then it happened…………

There was a slapping noise on the water and then the sound of feet crunching on dead leaves and grass.  I could not believe what was crawling towards us.  Before our eyes was a brave beaver now standing right by us.  You know I do not like critters, especially ones that drop by without an invitation.  I’m not sure what size a normal beaver really is, but this one was huge (in my mind).  Wet, dripping, redish-brown fur, black beady eyes and five inch razor-sharp claws.  I even think I caught a whiff of hot, steamy, foul-smelling breath coming from its nostrils and mouth.  I was terrified!  How could this be happening to me?  In my mind, I could see the beaver attacking me.  It has teeth that can cut down trees, so I knew that this beaver could easily take me with one bite.  It would knock me out with one slap of its tail on my head.  It would chew me up and store me for future meals.  Future explorers to the dam would look down to find a dirty leg bone (mine) that was used to hold back the water.  The Coroner would confirm on the news a week later that the bone did indeed belong to the man from Glen Road that went missing in the woods.  Thank God I had JoJo in my arms.  The beaver just survived a punishing winter and had to be hungry.  Maybe it was thinking that JoJo looked like an appetizer?  Do beavers have a taste for Yorkies?

I did the most manly thing I could think of while standing there paralyzed with fear.  I let out a high-pitched scream.  This scream was so loud and shrill that it could be heard by animals within a seven mile radius.  No human would ever be able to hear my scream due to the high decibel level that came out of my mouth.  Human ears just aren’t capable of hearing at this pitch.  I turned around, Yorkie in hand, and ran for my life.  I made some zig zags in my course in case the beaver used its strong legs and lunged at me.  It might miss me if I keep going to the left and then to the right.  I quit running about a hundred yards away.  I turned around to see the beast, but it was gone.  Back into the water it loves so well.  That damned dam….why did my miracle have to end so ugly?  What are some of your real-life critter stories that you can share on Acorns On Glen? 

They Are Back

This is a chipmunk.  They have begun their season of terror.  After a long winter’s sleep, they are awake and back in force on Glen Road.  Today, I looked out of the window and there they were.  Running, playing, clicking.  It’s the clicking I can’t stand.  I have read in some articles that they click when they sense danger and other articles point out that it is how they mate.  All I know is that when I hear clicking at 7 AM on a Saturday morning, I would like to run up to them and wring their little necks.  If only I could catch them!  The rest of the family on Glen Road comes from Brooklyn, NY.  Wildlife there consisted of horrible stories people would tell them about the 20 pound rat or attacks from killer cockroaches that could fly after you.  Anytime the Brooklyn side sees a chipmunk, there is screaming, yelling and crying.  EVERYONE, GET INTO THE HOUSE!  MOUSE!  RUN!  WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN?!  They make me anxious when I catch one running across the patio out of the corner of my eye as the last rays of sun beam down.  WHAT WAS THAT?  IS SOMEONE OUT THERE?  For the most part, our move to the country has been great….we could just do without so much wildlife, especially the chipmunks.  What wildlife terror stories do you have to share?