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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Country Live

Air Date: Week of July 7, 2000

Host Steve Curwood discovers what attracts the neighborhood deer to his garden, and what keeps them away, now that he no longer has a dog.

Transcript

CURWOOD: Each of us has our own ways of marking the seasons. The signs of summer around my house are country music, yes, and disappearing Hasta plants. Now, Hastas are squat little bushes with leaves about as wide as a hand, and when spring turns to summer they sprout lush, new growth that deer love.

When I had a dog roaming the grounds of my New England farm house, my Hastas made it through the season untouched. But once I no longer had a dog, well, the local doe began bringing her gang by in the early mornings. Now they neatly snip off the Hasta leaves, at a respectable length, of course, that allows them to grow back. I don't so much mind the deer pruning my Hasta plants. But last weekend they went too far.

It was a beautiful sunny morning. The ground just damp enough to make weed pulling almost a pleasure, and I found the tops of my biggest tomato plants had disappeared along with the Hasta shoots. A lethal lament slipped into my thoughts. Serves you right, I said to myself, for putting up those signs telling hunters they are not welcome. If you'd let those hunters come around last winter, you'd be picking more tomatoes this summer. Too late now, I thought. I could get a new dog, but the time's just not right.

Or I could seek advice from my neighbor, farmer Randy. Randy grows such tasty corn, grapes, and strawberries on his 300 acres that folks drive for miles when they know he's picking.

"Randy," I says, "you ever heard of a deer eating tomato plants?"

"Yup," he says. "And they usually spit it right back out. They'd much rather eat Hasta."

So I suppose I could plant even more Hasta. Or, Randy says, "Put on the radio."

I smile at this one, until he says the next thing. "But don't put on your kind of radio. All that news stuff and talking. It's got to be music."

"Music?"

"And not just any music. Country music," he says. "The deer around here don't seem to mind rock or pop, but if they hear country music they flash that white tail and they are gone. It doesn't even have to be that loud. Just leave it on 24 hours a day."

Hmm. Suppose my neighbors like that better than a barking dog? Well, so far it's working. So, here's to the voices of summer. George Strait and Dixie Chicks? Thanks.

 

 

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