The Wind and the Deer

Jane Doe unashamedly helping herself to bird seed, some of which is out of reach up on the platform.

I am learning, sort of, as I go through Life who I can and can’t argue with. I’m not learning this lesson well or quickly, but days out here at Riverwalk are often more instructive than I expect.

For instance, you just can’t argue with the wind. You can try, but it’s rather like spitting into it: everything you put into it is coming right back at you.

And deer. There really is no point in trying to tell a deer anything — she isn’t going to listen. (Yes, I mean “she,” since 98.9 percent of the deer one might encounter out here and in town — they could be the same deer; it’s only two miles — are female.)

While there was no attack on our house the other night, we nonetheless found ourselves surrounded. There were deer to the left of us. Deer to the right. Deer to the rear and deer to the front. And only one cat on sentry duty, which he gave up as soon as Lynn opened a door for him.

These deer were out there eating away at the nubbins of Lynn’s lawn, which — don’t tell Lynn — I don’t really have a problem with. But then there are the dang deer who are messing with my plans to feed birds. And that’s where I want to draw the line. But can’t, because you can’t argue with deer. Or the wind.

I made my bird post, a few months back at my woodshop, with some help from Branden, brought it home and triumphantly hung two feeders, the semi-broken one and the new one I bought, from my notched crossbar. Right, it turns out, at deer nose height — very convenient for licking all the seeds right out of the bottoms of the feeders.

You can’t reason with deer. You can go out on your deck while they are licking away at the smorgasbord you have thoughtfully provided and say, very plainly, “I left that for the birds,” and they don’t care. They are five feet away from you, and they just stand there with their big brown eyes, looking at you, waiting for you to finish your patient explanation of why they should move on so they can lick the last little crumbs out of the corners of the feeders.

Or you can try the Lynn Method: shouts and sharp claps of the hands. It might make them start, but they never finish their departure — at least, not until the feeders are empty.

I gave up. I clearly wasn’t going to win this argument, and my bird post has a platform, originally intended to hold a bird house. Now it was going to instead hold a bird feeder, above deer-nose height.

This worked until Friend Wind came calling. And when I say ‘friend,” I mean “friend to all deer,” because Wind repeatedly knocked the feeder off the bird post onto the ground, where the deer could once again access the contents.

Sometimes Wind even started knocking the entire post over. Like last night, when I was waiting for the snowstorm that never particularly materialized, but at least we got yet another cold wind to wick all hope of moisture out of the soil. When I got home, in the wind, my birdpost was lying on the ground yet again, this time loose and wobbly at the joint I had cleverly and –I thought — sturdily constructed. The platform is loose, too, from repeated contact with the ground.

Now both bird feeders are my broken feeders from multiple pushes overboard by Mariah, and so I have given up on the feeders and just started spreading seed on my platform. But because the bigger birds, like the magpies, seemed to like foraging on the ground, I was also distributing some seed there, and I’m sure I have seed blowing off the platform on a regular basis.

Now it turns out my plan to feed birds has extended to all neighbors, as Lynn and I watched a fox make him or herself at home at the base of the birdpost, nibbling here, nibbling there.

But after this last collapse, I’m not sure what to do. The wind is not going to go away. We like to think, here in Gunnison, that it is pretty much an April-only phenomenon, but after a neighbor relatively new to the area complained sometime mid-last year that the wind blows endlessly around here I tried paying a bit more attention. And after attempting to ride a bike the two miles into and out of town, I have to concede her point: the wind blows around here a lot.

Last year, in my infancy of bird interaction, I put my bird feeder on the deck railing, but that was before the deer sussed it out. And the birds made such a mess of the railing that I thought I would give us some space. However, they are still making a mess of the railing — and the deck, for that matter.

But I do like watching them, most of them still not identified by my novice eyes as they begin arriving in this incipient spring that remains cold enough for a skiff of snow to touch down most mornings, right before the wind carries it away.

If we could come to some sort of arrangement, the deer and I, that does not involve me providing an industrial-size bag of bird seed — and it says, right on the bag, bird food — for their exclusive pleasure, I would not mind them and the foxes taking a nip or two along the way. But no matter how it’s phrased, I see me on the losing side of this discussion.

For the moment the bird post remains on its side, since the wind seemed destined to carry on all night. And into this morning. And all afternoon and so on for the rest of our lives. It may be back to the drawing board with my bird post, now that it has met its implacable foe, the such-pleasantly-named April. I think the revision starts with 10-foot feet, or I dig a hole and learn all about Sakrete.

Either way, this sounds like work, but there’s probably nothing else for it, now that I’ve learned there’s no arguing with the deer. Or the wind.

Technically speaking, I suppose my on-going battle might not be as extensive as this one:

One thought on “The Wind and the Deer

  1. My friend! You are only now realizing the wind blows constantly in Gunnison!?!?!?!?!?! My jaw hit the floor.

    You are getting what many city slickers fantasize about having (and some pay lots of money to have). Nature. I have heard rumor (or at least that’s what I’ll say publicly) that sling shots and little pebbles can be useful – or at least a way to entertain oneself if less than a perfect shot – in nudging wildlife away…


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