Sunday, July 29, 2007

Lost on the mountain (sort of)

I want to dispel any possible rumor you might have heard about one or more hikers having been waylaid by bears while hiking our mountain during this weekend's shareholders pot luck and hike.

It is absolutely not true.

While a number of wild turkeys were sited out in the forest no one saw or was mishandled by a bear.

Yes, it is true that a reported six sheriff's car did show up after receiving an emergency call from a family up by our spring but this didn't have anything to do with bears.

('What area you all doing out here?' the lead sheriff reportedly said with a note of disbelief. 'Hiking?' As though he operated under the belief that anyone taking part in that sort of activity was automatically suspicious).

But the reason why I'm withholding the names of the shareholders involved has nothing to do with what they bears did or did not to them or, for that matter, what they did to the bear.

('Yes you can write about this in the newsletter but please don't use our names,' one of the women in the group said after the sheriff insisted on checking her ID not once, but twice. 'It's so embarrassing.')

But enough of that now. I will go over this weekend's potluck and hike and lack of encounters with bears (but with sheriffs) later on. Right now we have a much more important topics to discuss.


We're going to have honey in this coming week's share. One pound of honey per one or two person share.

Which means you are going to have to bring a jar with you when you pick up your vegetables this week.

Preferably a one pound honey jar.

Your average little plastic squeeze honey bear holds one pound of honey. But rather than plastic (do you really believe that plastic doesn't, overtime, breakdown and contaminate its contents?) why not try for a glass jar.

A quart canning jar holds 3 pounds of honey.

That means a pint jelly jar holds 1.5 pounds.

You bring the jar and I'll pour honey into it. (and if you, alas, forget to bring your jar this week, which from past experience I know a number of people will, I'll attempt to remember to bring the honey next week too).

So, remember, bring a jar for a pound of honey this week.

And now that we've got that out of the way, let's go over a little bit of other farm news before returning to this weekend's potluck meal, hike and non-bear encounter.

We did have a thunderstorm Friday night. It poured out here. Almost half an inch. Thank you for the rain dances, however, half an inch is still not enough. We need two of those cloudbursts a week, every week (and preferably it would be best if it came down much slower, fell in what is known as a 'gentle rain'.

So far July has brought us 2 inches rather than the four we need.

Oh well.

So now to the most asked question of the previous week .

'Are we going to have tomatoes?'

If you have asked this question and I've jumped up and down and started screaming something unintelligible about deer, here is the reason why.

I planted 2000 tomato plants that should have started producing back around July 10th. Only..."

Only as I've said a number of times, our first planting got chomped in half by our wonderfully indigenous white-tailed deer.

That's 2000 tomato plants that were ruthlessly hacked in half.

So the next time you think warm and cuddly thoughts about Bambi or that sweet, dear little fawn with its tender spots, think first about the succulent, ripe tomato that isn't sitting on your kitchen counter.

But besides my deer rage I am doing the best I can to get us a crop of tomatoes. We have now got the damaged plants re-growing. It looks like they will provide us with several weeks of tomatoes sometime in August.

Also, we took every extra tomato seedling in the greenhouse, fortunately we over started tomatoes, and we put the extras, well over a thousand, in the ground any place we could plant them and they, too, are now growing.

Additionally, we have 400 other plants that are now just starting to produce fruit. Those plants were being hurt by the drought. Remember, tomatoes absolutely want and need an inch of water a week and even with our constant watering of all 15 acres of vegetables these tomatoes weren't always getting enough (there is only so much water to go around).

So the tomato answer is, yes, we will have tomatoes but they will be late.

The second most asked question: And the squash?

While I don't scream as loudly when answering this one the answer is pretty much the same. While I hate to be a whiner (but Wenonah says I am about this) deer really clobbered our summer squash crop, too. Again, Bambi and family using the hole that the bear made in the deer fence to climb in one night and eat most of the several thousand squash plants growing in the cemetery field.

Did you know a deer eats about 14 pounds of vegetable matter each and every night?).

We've now repeatedly repaired the anti-deer fence and late last week we ran a strand of electric wire around the outside so nothing, including bears, can stand too close without getting a good strong shock.

But so much for the bad news. Now the good news.


In years gone by we have ordered some really great tasting cheese form Farmstead Fresh Cheese up in Pennsylvania. It's organic, made from raw milk, and I think it's one of the best domestic cheeses around. I'm about to put in an order for myself but I can add to it (this way the shipping is free).

They sell a number of different types (look on their webpage at If you are interested in buying a five pound block ($40) or a 2.5 pound block ($21) drop me a note and I'll add your order to ours.

If you want smaller cuts, order direct from them.

Now back to the Farm Party:

I want to thank the approximate 150 people that came out. We had a good time and it was nice meeting you outside of the vegetable pick up site.

I especially remembered the evening, just after the meal was over and I was getting ready to give another tour of the farm. Someone asked me about bears and I was telling about the time the bear was standing just a few yards from where we were.

"The dogs were busy barking and the bear was busy dismantling a beehive.

"Did you know that bears really don't care that much for honey. They really," I was saying. "To in to beehives to eat the baby bees. The larva."

That's when the phone rang.

Wenonah walked out of the house with the phone in hand.

"It's the sheriff," she said. "He wants to talk to you about the hikers."

Which brings us back to the lack of a bear encounter up on the mountain Saturday.

Earlier in the day, about 25 people went on the hike up the mountain. It was amixed age group hike. Adults, children, teenagers. The idea was to take one trail up. The trail past the upper spring, go up to the top, sit out on the rocks, on the precipice overlooking our neighbors who live in the estate between us and The Plains, (it's been said that this one Estate is about 25 square miles in size).

The hiker's then, after looking down on the estates lakes and forests and over to the distant Skyline Drive returning to the farmhouse by another trail that meandered along the mountain top before dropping down on the other side of our farm.

Only one group was lagging behind. A few adults and a couple children. They fell behind the others and when they got to the top couldn't see where to go next.

So they started bushwacking straight down the mountain, through the brush and mountain laurel and huckleberries. Taking a beeline course toward the farmhouse.

And probably somewhere in a tangle of greenbriar decided they better use their cell phone and call down to the farm for directions.

Only, they didn't have our phone number.

So they called information.

But, because of the strangeness of how our corner of the world was developed, our phone is not listed in the Fauquier County directory, as our address is. But is listed in Prince William county.

Our address is The Plains, Or phone number, Haymarket.

Which meant that the information operator couldn't find our phone number.

And by now the children were getting cranky, and hungry and the adults, not knowing what to do, called 911.

And asked if there was a non-emergency number they could call for help.

Only, the 911 operator decided that lost in the woods sounded like an emergency to her.

Visualizing the headlines. 'Family with children lost in woods. 911 operator refuses help.' she told the hikers to stay on the line while she called the sheriff.

Now all this time, the hikers kept on walking down the mountain. and while I like to think we are back here in the woods its not like out west. not like Colorado or Wyoming or Montana. Out here in Fauquier County you can't very well walk more than a mile in any direction before stumbling across civilization.

And that's what happened.. The hikers walked a few hundred more feet, crossed the trail back to the house and came on down to the farmhouse.

And the sheriff?

The sheriff, well actually six car loads of sheriffs, were on their way to the farm, rushing down country roads, lights a-flashing, sirens a sirening.

And by the time the first sheriff's car bounced up our driveway the wayward hikers were already at the farmhouse, the children drinking lemonade and the adults (I assume) drinking sangria.

And the sheriff, well he refused the glass of lemonade Wenonah offered him, and instead insisted on seeing the group of wayward hikers, insisted on checking their ID's (checking one woman's ID twice) and then, after expressed his opinion about hiking and the sort of people that would do it, turned his car around and left.

And the bear? He or she never did make an appearance.


Leigh Hauter

deer and more drought

I woke up this morning, looked out the bathroom window and saw three deer strolling across the bottom field.

That's three grown up deer! All three casually strolling (not tip toeing) through the peppers and heading right toward our crop of previously eaten tomato plants.

This, to put it concisely, should not have happened.

It shouldn't have happened because just the day before we (three of us) had spent all of the day not dedicated to picking vegetables to repairing the deer fence.

We walked the several miles of ten foot high anti deer fence repairing the half dozen large bear size holes that had been recently poked in the fence.

Apparently, since we did this last, Momma bear or was it the 350 pound (by my neighbors estimate) baby bear entertained herself by proving that our anti-deer fence does not work as an anti-bear fence.

And with this drought, this record setting drought.

Let me say that again. This Record setting drought!

Its not just our vegetables that are suffering.

If you look out there everything else is right on the edge of death.

The forest is turning crinkly.

And the deer, no doubt, are running out of a ready supply of fresh greens in the forest. They are only too happy to get inside our fence and munch on our irrigated crops.

To prove I'm right, look out your window right now. Even if you are in the city I bet yoiu can see the effect of this drought.

Look at the parched grass. Have you ever seen anything so brown. If it's not brown anda dead looking, someone is watering it.

Then look at the trees. Or maybe we should say, look at the 'thirsty' trees.

This evening, we were looking down the hill from our house and noticed that some of the trees were losing leaves already. And that the leaves on other trees were turning yellow. And even others were crinkling up and dropping).

The drought we are having is very, very serious. And very unusual.

Out front we have a large walnut with a patch of zinnias growing close by. This afternoon the zinnias dried up and fell over. I suspect because the walnut is so thirsty its sucking all the water it can get out of the nearby ground.

I had a shareholder tell me this evening that he looked back on my newsletters to see if I regularly complained about drought. (His answer? I don't).

But enough of that. This weekend is farm party weekend.

Here's the facts:

The pot luck starts at 5 pm. Bring either a main dish or a dessert. We will provide sangria and lemonade.

There will be a hike up High Point Mountain starting at 3:30. The view at the top is probably the best anywhere within 100 miles of DC. The hike isn't all that strenuous. I think about 400 feet in elevation and about a mile or 2 in distant. It usually takes about an hour, including a rest at the top where on a clear day you can see all the way to Old Rag and on a cloudy day get a good view of my neighbors 25 square mile (more or less) estate.

Starting about 4 I'll be out here giving tours of the farm. If you want to hear my rap about how I started the CSA a decade ago with a rototiller bought on credit, along with pointing out the site of the old moonshine still (I might even get around to speculating which tree it was the 'revenuers' handcuffed one of the Hall boy's arms around and left him until they came back to collect him three days later), this is your chance.

Transportation. There are a number of shareholders who would love to come out but do not have cars. If you have room and don't mind picking up someone from the metro drop me an e-mail and I will try to put riders in contact with drivers.

Directions: Look on the web page. No one has yet got lost following those directions. (though, the tv team that came out last Monday for the drought story did pass our driveway and the 'no trespassing' sign several times, I think with distant visions of the movie 'Deliverance' in their minds.

Leigh Hauter

Critters that eat vegetables

I just checked our corn last night.

This is a field down the road where I planted enough corn for everyone to get 2-4 ears per person per share per week for two, maybe three weeks

A nice field of corn.

This is beside the planting of corn I planted down the hill from the house. Another week's worth of corn.

That means if everything went right, if everything went just hunky dory.

Right amount of nitrogen (corn loves nitrogen).

No field full of weeds to steal the corn plants nutrients, water and light.

Enough water.

No wild animals to steal it away.

Deer. Deer are usually the biggest culprits. They sneak into a field of corn and start eating the ears about a month before humans consider it ripe. If there are too many hungry deer (like this year) they have been known to completely pluck an entire corn field. Eating every single ear of corn.

Crows. Crows start on corn when the sprouts just peak out of the grown. The pull the tender spouts and eat the little seed kernel down below. I've seen crows walk down hundred foot rows pulling each sprout and every spout as they do, leaving the rows bare.

Raccoons. They come in and aren't tall enough or strong enough to rip the ears off of the stalks but what they they do is claw at the sheaves around the cobs and then eat the exposed kernels right off the cob.

Bears. One of the first years I was farming I had corn growing right out our front door and one morning I looked out the window and there was a little bear busy harvesting just like a human.

She had stacked a pile of ears on the ground and when I yelled she looked up, ran over to the pile, picked it up under one of her arms (or is that front legs?) and ran for all she was worth, down the hill where there used to be a barbed wire fence.

At the fence she hit the ground crawled underneath the bottom strand of wire and then on the other side got up again and took off into the forest. Corn in hand.

The next year, just the day before I planned to harvest the corn for the shares, I went down to check and there wasn't an ear in the field. Apparently both me and the bear had been checking to see when the corn would ripen and the bear decided a a day earlier than me it was time to harvest.

She harvested everything.

And down in the woods, maybe twenty yards, I found the location of the corn feast.

Not only had the bear eaten it all right off the cob but she had also had eaten a fair number of the cobs.

I knew it was a bear because she hadn't bothered to look for the toilet facilities. What's that quote they use when trying to convince you not to drink water out of the springs and streams in the forest. "A bears xxxx in the woods." Especially after eating a large meal of fresh corn.

So let's get back to this year's corn crop.

I went by the corn field last night and looked around.

But there wasn't much corn to see.

And the culprit wasn't the wild animals either.

It's the drought.

The corn hasn't grown. It's stunted and shriveled. No water. The corn field isn't irrigated. The drought has pretty much done the corn in. There was no need for a bear, or deer. No raccoon or crows. This record setting drought (I just heard most of Maryland is being declared an agriculture disaster area. I haven't heard about Virginia yet).

The drought has wiped out most of this year's corn.

(I have another planting down the hill that is getting some water. It is late but it seems to be doing fine).

And since I'm giving bad news let me lay some more on you.

Squash/zucchini. No, we will have plenty of squash and Zucchini. (I really haven't, in my mind, figured out the difference between the two) but a couple nights ago something (I suspect a deer) got in and ate much of the next planting. Eating the vines right down to the ground.

It makes me ill.

The cemetery field was full of young squash plants that we had put in just a week ago but 2/3 are ruined. Eaten to the nubs. This is the squash we would be getting in a couple weeks.

Good news?
it's not all bad. The cucumbers are coming on just fine and look better than they have in a number of years.

Eggplant? A number of plants were hurt during the great deer attack but we way over planted. You should be getting eggplant every other week for the next couple months.

Bell peppers. the deer ate a lot early on but maybe 600 plants weren't hit and they are starting to produce. Pretty soon you will be getting those every week and the ones that were damaged are coming back too. Bell peppers grow right up until frost.

Hot peppers. There are about 5 varieties out there. The Cayenne are starting to ripen.

Tomatoes? Yes, we lost most of the first planting in the deer attack but there should be plenty more. In fact we have some right now but they are suffering from bottom rot (this is caused by drought. Its a calcium transport disease that comes about from not enough water to move the nutrients up into the fruit. Tomatoes want that inch a week and if they don't get it there are always problems). We should have tomatoes regularly in a couple weeks and I'm still hoping for all you can eat during the last of August.

The garlic is in the barn and I'll be giving out a bulb every week for the season (I hope).
Basil should be all you can eat forever.
Tomatillos are doing fine.
Parsley is going to get a couple week's rest before harvesting it again.
Thai basil is coming on next week.
Ground cherry's are out there but looking slow.
We've planted lots of pumpkins and winter squash but they are several months off.
Enough potatoes for a month or so.
Okra and sunflowers look iffy because of the drought. I'm going to do another planting of both this afternoon.

And that's a rundown on the major summer crops. I've no doubt forgotten a dozen other summer crops (I'm not even starting to talk about the fall crops).

We did get an inch of rain this week. We need that every week. We used to get that much around here but at least in the short term we are having some sort of climate change.

Additionally I've almost got the bottom spring hooked up into the irrigation system (waiting for a few parts from the irrigation supply company) When that's done we should be able to withstand even a major drought like we're being hit with now.

The deer fence is up and working again. We're electrifying a strand around it today to further strengthen its repelling capability. Maybe keep the bears from running through it.

A reminder about the Summer Party.

Next Saturday. July 28th.

You and your friends are invited. Yes, you can bring friends.

It's a pot luck. Bring a main dish or a dessert. No need is RSVPing starts at PM. Hike up the mountain starts 3:30. I'll give tours of the farm starting around 4.

If its still going on late we'll have a bonfire.


Leigh Hauter

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Momma bear walking up to our house

National Berry Picking Holiday

Besides giving you an update on the bear(s) (and I guess the bobcat that’s been harassing our chickens), I was going to send out word this week about the drought we’ve been having for the past six months.

I was going to try to make it more than the typical farmer’s whining and fussing about the weather not being all it could.

And hopefully, getting across that what’s going on is a whole bunch scarier than what we are used to getting (or is that not getting).

Maybe even capturing a sense of how actually, truly, crazy the weather is.

Possibly finding someone out there who had a real working dance that would succeed in bring on normal weather again.

And then, Sunday night, we got hit, 71 one hundreds of an inch of rain landed on the farm.

Enough rain to keep your vegetables alive for another week.

Enough rain to let us take a break from the constant irrigating for at least a few days.

Which meant that the weather had lost a touch of its crisis aspect and would have sort of compromised a newsletter built around the ‘weather crisis’.

Oh well!

The truth is, though, healthy vegetables enjoy an inch of rain each and every week during the growing season.

Believe it or not, that’s what this area used to get most summers. This summer, though, we haven’t even rated one inch in the last month.

In the past 8 months we have had below average rainfall each month. In four of those months we have had the lowest rainfall for that month in the past decade (that’s as long as I’ve been keeping records).

I’m amazed that with this lack of rainfall. our vegetables are doing so well. It must be due to constant irrigating we’ve been doing.

15,000 gallons of water each day. Over a 100,000 gallons of spring water a week.

We’ve put over a 1,000,000 gallons of water, spring water, on our fields since the season began.

A lot of water.

However, nothing does a plant as much good as a nice gentle rain. And as the drought has worn on I’ve fallen farther behind. Meaning, its taken me longer to get around to watering the same field again than the plants would like.

But the truth is, we need rainfall. Regular rainfall.

Which makes me think of my favorite holiday.

A day where, if it were a perfect (or even halfway perfect) world, we’d close down the country.

Schools, offices, factories, fast food restaurants, airports.

Close them down for at least a day, maybe an entire week.

But, before I go into that let’s do the farm news.

Important day coming up.

Our annual come out to the farm, meet the other shareholders, see your farm and vegetables pot luck is coming up soon.

A hike up the top of the mountain to appreciate the view. One of the best scenic views within 50 miles of dc, if not further.

Then tours of the farm. Talking about the plants and fields, what we’re planning and what we’ve done. Answering questions and maybe giving a little history of this sort of farming.

Finally, the meal. A pot luck.

We will provide lemonade, sangria, spring water.

You bring either a main dish or a dessert.

No need to RSVP or to check in with what sort of dish to bring. it usually works itself out nicely.

Every year this is a pretty pleasant event. A time to see your vegetables in action and to meet the other shareholders.

You can bring a friend, or two, or three. And we should have a good time.

You will have as much fun as if my proposed holiday becomes a reality.

I’m talking about, of course, National Berry Day! (or week, or month).

Long time shareholders know about this holiday (or is that a proposed holiday?)

A day where everyone takes off work! (not charged against sick days, or vacation days) A free day off.

A day to head out to the woods and your favorite berry patch.

(what, you don’t have a favorite berry patch? Don’t you think your life is a little bit lacking? This is actually something our government could be doing for us, instead of paving over more and more land it could be creating wild berry habitat.

Places for the nation to spend pleasant summer afternoons on the edge of the woods, eating berries, napping, having picnics and just sort of lazily enjoying the world).

Right now is the time for National Berry Day. At least around here. The wine berries and black berries are ripe and ready to eat.

I’ve been walking up and down our drive, stopping every dozen or so steps to reach out to pick (and eat) a handful of sweet berries.

Sunday night’s rain did a great job of plumping them up, and while they had been somewhat tart because of the drought, the berries are now sweet and plentiful.

We need a people power movement. We need to demand a day off from work (and if not a week or month), just to enjoy the world outside of asphalt and concrete.

And if we can’t get an official holiday for berry picking we can at least do what rural people have been doing for decades all over the country.

Take an unofficial holiday.

You know about that holiday don’t you? The one that happens in the fall.

In the rural parts of the United States?

Where one day, all of a sudden, everything closes down.

The schools. The banks. Stores. Factories.

It’s a day where men and boys, and more recently, woman and girls get up at the crack of dawn and instead of getting dressed for work, put on their boots, get in their trucks and head out to the local national forest (or, if they’re lucky, a friend’s farm and woodlot.

I didn’t know anything about this holiday until I got a job teaching high school down in the Shenandoah Valley.

It was October of my first year and I was making up my lesson plans for the next week when the teacher from the next classroom came over and asked what I was doing.

I told her. “Planning for next week.”

She looked at me kind of strange.

“You’re not serious are you?” she asked.

“Why?” I answered. “Is something going on?”

“Well, next week’s hunting season.” she said as if that answered my question.

“And?” I asked.

“Oh nothing.” she said. “It’s just that no one will be here. None of the kids will be class. In fact, I don’t think many of the teachers will come to school either.”

When she said that I thought she was kidding me. Playing a joke. Talking down to me because I was the naive new teacher from the city.

But she was right.

The first day of hunting season came the school was mostly empty.

And so was the town.

In fact for most of the first week of hunting season very few people, students or teachers, bothered to come to school.

And when they came back they talked about going out to the woods. Going camping and sort of incidentally, going hunting for bambi. (though, later, after teaching in the same community for four years, I wasn’t so sure that the point of the unofficial holiday was to actually shoot bambi.

Instead, I think if you were to play anthropologist and deconstruct the holiday you would find that it was a celebration of one’s connection with the rural, wilderness aspect of our country.

But that’s no doubt more intellectual than anyone got while they were sitting up in their tree stand absolutely quite soaking up the natural world all around you.

And that’s what I think we should do with National berry day. It won’t be a day where people worry about how many quarts of berries they picked and toted on back home.

Instead it will be a day of just meandering through the woods, picking handfuls of berries and stuffing them in your mouth.

It will be a time of eating berries right off the vine and, if you’re lucky enough to be out their in the berry patch with someone else, sharing the best berries with your partner.

And that’s enough of that. I think there is just enough time to finish this newsletter, e-mail it out and run out and pick several handfuls of wine berries (my favorites) before I have to load the vegetables in the van and drive into the city for today’s delivery.

Before I go, though, let me give you the update on the bear.

Yesterday morning my neighbor, the last one down the valley before several miles of forest, saw a pair of bears in his front yard eating the grapes off of his arbor.

He says it was a mother and her son. The son, he said was almost twice the size of the mother, but you could tell, he said, the smaller bear was older and wiser by the way she acted and showed the other one how to pick the grapes.

My neighbor said he went out into his front yard to scare them away. “The larger one did run a few dozen yards but he stopped when the mother stayed put and continued picking grapes and cramming them into her mouth.

The neighbor said the picture of the bear I caught on my wildlife camera (if you want me to e-mail it to you, just ask) was the mother. “The son is a lot bigger.”

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Attack of the vegetable eaters!

I wanted to come home after being gone from the farm for a week and talk about where I had been.

Touring Swiss family farms.

Looking at Swiss CSA's, buying collectives, greenhouse vegetables, organic cheese and organic egg farms (did you know in Switzerland each organic egg must be stamped with the date the egg was layed and a code number identifying the farm the hen lived on).

Peaceful Swiss farms with beautifully kept fields surrounding old, cared for Swiss farm houses with overhanging roofs and barns connected right to the house.

Instead of that pleasant picture I came home to a combat zone.

A war!

Our farm under attack from every direction.

Constant, incessant, unremitting attacks.

Marauders repeatedly attacking the chicken house.

(bobcats, foxes, skunks, raccoons, opossums)?

Chicken thieves, chicken pluckers, chicken devourers, egg eaters.

It looks like an animal has been trying to jump over the electric fence surrounding the chickens. (a bobcat? Last night I heard one out there yawling).

In the morning the fence is down and each day another chicken (or two) is gone.

And then there is the deer fence.

There is several miles of the black plastic mesh surrounding our vegetable fields, something like 15 acres enclosed with fence.

Something has been tearing the fence down all around the farm.

And each night deer pour through the holes in waves. (sort of like a world war one movie).

And the deer, once inside turn their attention on the vegetables. Going after the tomato plants, pepper plants, squash, cucumbers, broccoli, corn, okra.

Last night I got up several times and each time when I flashed the spotlight across the fields I saw a different deer busily eating. Five deer, just last night.

Vegetable thieves, vegetable stompers, vegetable nibblers, munchers, chewers, destroyers.

Every where I look there's damage.

(A deer eats something like 14 pounds of green matter each and every night, if it can).

The worst damage, right now is with the tomato and pepper plants. With the sweet corn and okra not far behind.

It makes me sick to my stomach.

(Wenonah just proofread the newsletter and she called me up and said, "Don't you think you are going a little over the top about the deer? People, if they read this, will think the deer are eating us out of house and home. What do they say about farmers complaining about the weather? Well the same is true about you and those deer."

Well, maybe she is sort of right. There are a lot of vegetables out there, but there wouldn't be if the deer had their way).

And then there's the bear.

The bears has given up on the beehives but has now been roaring through the deer fence (letting deer in behind it) and attacking the fruit trees.

Breaking off limbs to get to the fruit.

Apples, cherries, pears, plums.

The bear's a nuisance, but one I can survive, the problem though it where it knocks down the fence.

I have a good picture of a bear snapped by the wildlife camera just by the house (If you want to see the picture tell me and I'll e-mail it to you).

That bear was heading right toward the deer fence.

The next morning I found a large hole ripped in the fence.

I worked on the fence for several hours on Sunday. Finding a number of holes. One section a hundred feet long ripped down.

I worked again on it for several more hours early this morning.

As soon as we finish picking the vegetables today we'll go back at it. Hopefully having it up and ready for tonight's attack by this evening.

But what about the deer inside the fence (those ones I saw last night I don't think, filed out through the openings in the fence when they were full eating our vegetables.

Somewhere, inside the fence, right now, there are deer out there, bedded down, napping.

Waiting for the cool of the evening to get up again and go back into the fields for another vegetable snack.

What should I do?

How do I get the deer inside the fence from there to the outside of the fence?

While you think of an answer to that, here's the farm news.

Our annual summer farm party is coming up. Since this is the blog version of the newsletter I've cut out the details (who knows, my neighbors might read this). If you are interested in coming out and meeting us and our 300 closest vegetable eating friends send me an e-mail. This is a pot luck, family get together fort of event.

Other farm news: Just in case you haven't noticed, the drought in our area is continuing.

Everything is extremely dry out here.

While Northern Europe, this spring and summer, is having record setting low temperatures and constant rain, we are having one of the worst droughts in my memory, definitely the driest its been since I started farming a decade ago.

It might not seem like it in the city but out here on the farm we are experiencing very chaotic weather. It almost seems like its getting worst with each passing month.

Another piece of farm news, one that isn't so dramatic but one that happens every year this time. We are now in that transition period between spring crops and summer crops.

The days are long and the air and soil is warm.

This effects the plants (and means a change in the vegetables we eat around here).

It's now too hot for most lettuces. (with heat lettuce turns bitter).

And with the long days most of the spring vegetables are going to seed. They stop growing.

The long days also means that the summer vegetables start producing. In the next couple weeks we are going to see all of the summer vegetables coming on. cucumbers, peppers, squash, eggplant (we were early with that this year) tomatoes, tomatillos. We will also start to harvest the root crops, potatoes and garlic, that have been growing all spring.

That is if we can keep the deer out of the crops.

And the one's inside the fence? Can you suggest a strategy?

Over the past decade I've probably tried every method known to human kind to keep deer off of vegetables.

We've put out human hair, dog fur, predator hair.

Fresh eggs, rotten eggs.


Fish concentrate.

Electric fences.

Electric fences with apples tied to the fence so the deer are sure to get a shock.

Double rows of fencing.

Double rows of electric fencing.

Stinky scents designed to keep deer away.

Guard dogs,

Guard pigs,

Distracting noises.

Distracting noises that go on and off.

A radio turned up loud to a talk radio station playing from the middle of the fields.

A tape recording of Rush Limbaugh talking turned up loud and playing from the middle of the fields.

None of it works for very long. (Even Limbaugh fails to keep deer away from vegetables).

The ten foot fence, however, has worked for two years now and it was working up to now.

Unfortunately, this one two punch of first the bear repeatedly knocking down the fence and the deer following has got us stumped.

What we are going to do when we get the fence back up? How are we going to get the deer inside, out and keep the bears from knocking new holes in it once it's up?

Any ideas?

Leigh Hauter