(As a side note, or, at very least, a quick digression, after writing that title, it occurs to me to wonder whether Dave might think “watering the deer” is some sort of euphemism.)
After losing most of last year’s tomato crop to deer, I’ve been looking into ways to discourage the critters from coming into my yard. It turns out the most obvious approach – a fence – isn’t terribly effective. Anything less than eight feet high and the deer will jump right over it. And who wants an eight foot fence blocking their view? (It’s not a great view, but it certainly beats the parking lot views I’ve had at various apartments.)
One solution is a liquid deer repellent that you spray on your plants at grazing height. There are a few catches though. For starters, you have to reapply the stuff every time it rains. You have to apply it consistently across all the plants or else the untreated vegetation will mask the taste of the treated plants. And, of course, the way this stuff works is it makes the plants taste bad; so you don’t want to get any of it on the stuff you plan to eat.
One of the possibilities I ran across is a motion-activated sprinkler. The idea is that a deer wandering into the yard will trigger the sprinkler and get pelted with a few cups of cold water. This startles the deer and it goes running. Once a deer is scared out of an area, it’s not likely to come back. (By some accounts, these devices are also effective at deterring one’s neighbors from stealing tomatoes; though I haven’t had that particular problem.)
Mom and Dad gave me such a sprinkler back in February. I’m sure it’s not the most requested item on most people’s birthday lists, but most of the “toys” on my wish list (e.g. a decent point-and-shoot camera) were a bit on the pricey side, so this seemed like a reasonable alternative.
I came home on Wednesday to find a deer standing in my front yard. The deer stood its ground as I backed the car into the driveway, and didn’t even seem to take any particular notice as I got out and closed the car door behind me. It didn’t seem perturbed by anything until I started running toward it, yelling. (Hopefully the neighbors had their windows closed, otherwise they may be wondering about me a bit more than usual.
Sensing that this might be a good time to start trying to scare the deer away, I spent some time on Sunday afternoon getting the sprinkler set up.
One of the steps for setting up the sprinkler is to test it by standing behind the sprinkler and trigger the motion sensor by waving a hand in front of it. One detail I wasn’t entirely clear on though was how to set the sprinkler head’s range of motion. I’d set it to spray the area of the garden, but when I waved my hand in front of the sensor, first it spun to the right and sprayed me from that side. An instant later, it spun nearly 360 degrees and sprayed me again. At that point it paused for eight seconds before looking for more deer.
My next-door neighbors were out working in their garden and must have thought I’d lost my mind. The entire incident had taken place too quickly for them to have seen it, but at that point I started laughing uncontrollably. I’m not sure whether I stood up too quickly or perhaps just lost my balance, but either way the world went all wibbly-wobbly and I fell into the flower bed. I got up a moment later; unscathed, but still laughing manically.
My insomnia kicked in on Sunday evening, preventing me from getting more than a few moments sleep. But it was worth it. Around 4:30 I heard the sprinkler activate as the first deer got soaked.