THERE’S BEEN A SHIFT IN MY THINKING on deer, as on so many things lately.
Just the other day, I was yelling and rattling screens at them, worried they would devour my newly planted white pine, holly, and arborvitae, and whipping up big batches of peppery homemade deer repellent.
But yesterday, I saw three or four of them walking, gracefully as always, but more slowly it seemed, through the snow of my backyard. They tend to show up in the late afternoon. I imagined they looked thinner. They didn’t seem desperate (how would I know?), but I know there isn’t much for them to eat around here. And it’s been so cold.
I briefly thought of feeding them my table scraps, the bucket full that’s meant for the compost heap. But I read up a little, on a State of Michigan website, and realized that’s probably not a good idea. Deer aren’t pigs. They’re particular, and eat different kinds of foods according to the season. I don’t think they could do anything with my orange peels and coffee grinds anyway.
But I feel sorry for them, and I don’t want them to starve. One thing they do eat is dried oak leaves, and I’ve got plenty of those on the ground. I could expose more of them with a rake or shovel. And I’ve decided to relax about the shrubs. I can’t maintain a constant vigil. And they probably won’t kill them, just defoliate them a bit. Come spring, they’ll find more to eat in the woods.
But there’s still a lot of winter ahead.
“Gotta get through January, gotta get through February…” – Van Morrison, Fire in the Belly