They say a garden is always greenest in January - in your imagination, while paging through those beautiful garden catalogs. The reality though, in August, can often be quite different. And so it is here.
As always, I had such high hopes for this year's garden. The new fence was doing its job - no ground squirrels or bunnies had munched anything. Reconfiguring the chicken coop and pen worked too - no guineas flying from the top of the gate into the garden for snacks; no chickens flying in either, scratching up the dirt. Three of the newly aligned garden beds were in place; the rest to be done this fall.
Despite a long and cool start to summer this year, things were starting to look really good when I left for a week in Colorado. Aries stayed home, so I knew he'd keep up with the soaker hose schedule. But, upon my return, just walking up to the gate I could tell the garden didn't look even as lush as when I left.
I'd deadheaded the calendulas, but there were no new flowers to greet me. The bean trellis, almost completely covered with leaves, with flowers just about to open, was now just a few bare vines twisting upwards. The summer greens - chard, kale and choi - looked like they'd been severely clipped back. Aries doesn't eat salads. What was going on?
Bunnies, or birds, couldn't have done all this. Everything still looked green - I knew Aries hadn't skipped watering. What had happened to my garden? Wait! What was that dark pile over there, in the middle of a side path? Certainly too big and too many to be rabbit droppings.
There's another pile over there, and another. Oh look, are those tracks in the dust? Arrggh! These are deer tracks! Oh, no!
I did see deer up on the hillside above us, last winter. Even then, I remarked that it was rare for them to be down this low. In the summer heat, they stay up even higher. I've never had to deal with deer in the summer, in the garden! This is gonna get ugly.