Who Knew? Deer Eat Acorns!

GREAT NEWS: deer eat acorns! It’s news to me, anyway, and it’s great because I have plenty.

It’s been raining acorns for two weeks now. They fall — a distance of perhaps 100 feet — from the towering white oaks that surround my house and hit the skylights with a noise that made me jump until I got used to it. Then they rolllllllllllll down the roof and drop on to the deck, where they bounce, bounce, bounce.

I don’t remember this at all from last year. It must have been a bad year for acorns. Surely I would remember… Each morning, the deck is covered with so many acorns, it’s like walking on ball bearings. They’ll need to be raked away from the paths at some point, and I was wondering what I would do with them all, when I stumbled on the Missouri Department of Conservation website and read that 54% of a white-tailed deer’s diet is acorns! Oh frabjous day!

I’m hoping, you see, that the deer will be so satiated from this bounty of acorns that they’ll leave my shrubs alone this winter. I just bought two “skip laurels” today (prunus laurocerasus ‘schipkaensis’ ), which the nursery man said the deer might sample but won’t devour. Since he was frank about that, and said he’d been in the business 25 years, and was nice, I also believed him when he said the tag that says they need full sun is wrong.

They just arrived on a truck from Oregon and are blooming, which they’re not supposed to do in September, sending up spikes of white flowers at the top. They’re evergreen, and they’re going in my front area as part of a screening hedge.

Meanwhile, the deer are feasting. I noticed one today with his face to the ground in an area of wood chips, where nothing grows, and wondered what he was finding there. Duh. They’ll be fat and contented this winter, and maybe leave my rhodies alone.

Decisions, Decisions

THESE DAYS, I’M FACED WITH CHOICES I couldn’t have predicted a few months back, when I lived in a brownstone in Brooklyn.

They’re fun choices, not matters of life and death. Still, they are perplexing. For example:

  • Fencing: how high? I’d like it six feet high across the front of the property, for a feeling of seclusion, but East Hampton says no more than 4 feet, and I dare not break the rules – they’re pretty fascist around here when it comes to fencing. It will be cedar, to match the house. But what kind of design – plain or cute? mckinley

Above: The McKinley from Wayside Fence: Rather whimsical, with those little cut-outs, but they’re not really going to be seen (they’ll be hidden behind my ‘mixed hedgerow,’ which is in the pre-pre-planning stages), so do I want to bother with that little detail?

  • What kind of gate across the driveway-to-come? Big enough to drive through, or merely to walk through? When it comes to deer fencing on the other three sides of the lot, I *am* planning to break the rules. Nothing short of 8′ will keep those big bucks out. But that’s wire and in the woods, less likely to attract official attention (I hope no Town people read my blog). I’ve had two fencing guys here — both scoffed at the idea of applying for permits of any kind — and one estimate so far for the deer portion: $4,200 for 470 linear feet. Is that good or bad? To be determined.
  • Driveway: how big? What shape? I’m now thinking ‘parking court’ rather than driveway. I don’t absolutely need to drive up to the front door, so why not keep the car(s) tucked out of sight on the other side of my planned gate? I looked up standard driveway measurements: for two cars, a simple 25’x25′ square should do (got one estimate for about $2,000, including excavating 5″ deep and a layer of crushed concrete). I already know what kind of surface I want: gray/beige 3/4″ gravel — larger than pea gravel, which is squishy to walk on. Then there’s the edging question. I don’t want brick or cobblestone. Too urban. Steel would be functional, unobtrusive, and keep the stones from ‘migrating,’ but I could save a grand by skipping it. Would it be so terrible if a few stones migrated into the road or my forsythia hedge?
  • Fireplace. Since I’ve now decided to stay here in the boondocks for the winter, f_14344a fireplace has become a must. Not a wood burning stove; this will be strictly for atmosphere and a bit of extra warmth. I’m ordering a Malm Zircon freestanding fireplace in white, left, from Design Within Reach. The decisions here are size — 30″ or 34″ wide? — and location. Which of two corners in my living room? Also to be determined.
  • Tree removal is underway and going well. Decisions here have already been made (and these were life or death decisions, for the trees), with the wise counsel of Eric Ernst of Montauk, known as “Tree Man.” He and his son Ethan, 19, are out there buzzing their chainsaws as I type. Soon, my yard will be less five or six diseased, struggling, leaning, or unfortunately placed trees (and I will have lots of firewood and wood chips for mulch). A white oak that overhung the yard oppressively is gone already, as is a front-yard pine that got no light. Now its neighbor, a blue Atlas cedar, has a fighting chance.