Deer and owls

Usually on Thursday night I write my Friday Faves post. Well, I’m exhausted and don’t have the energy to complete the list tonight.  I will have it up for you tomorrow evening instead.  I thought I would share, instead, what I did today, and give you an update on the deer deterrent.

More rocks a little boys dream.

More rocks a little boys dream.

My son wanted to see about trading in his gas-guzzler vehicle for something a little lighter on the wallet this morning.  Car shopping with a couple of 4-year olds isn’t fun, so I offered to baby sit.  Some  of you may have figured out that I am seriously a night owl, which made getting up this morning a little difficult.  I headed outside to wake up to the October skies, (yes, I know what month it is but seriously 47 degrees is not an August morning) and realized all the birds were upset.  They were going crazy. I couldn’t figure it out.  Were the crows chasing the chickadees?  They usually don’t bother them, yet every bird in the area was screeching and flying around as if they were afraid.

The children arrived, did I mention I hadn’t even made a cup  of  tea  yet?  My grandson jumped out of the car and said, “Let’s go weed!!”  My granddaughter, on his heels, said, “I want to stir the compost.” I love how much they enjoy working in the gardens.   Then they too noticed the birds.  They wanted to know what was wrong with them.   Yes, this was very unusual behavior.  I still had no idea, so off we headed to the field where one could pull weeds and another began to stir the compost.


My eyes were fixed on a crow that was acting very aggressive. I still believed the crows were some how to blame for the disturbance.  I was watching him dive from my right, when to my left I spotted movement.  I now had my answer to what was happening.  Here it was 9 am and there was an owl right out in  the open.  Not sure if the owl decided he’d had enough of the birds or the appearance of people in the field made him decide it was time to leave but he took off.  It happened so quickly I didn’t have time to point the owl out to the little ones, much to their chagrin.  Darn if that one crow didn’t follow that owl, attacking and letting him know he wasn’t welcome here at this hour.


I was a little concerned as I watched the owl and crow (crow attacking at this point) fly over the tree line out of my sight.  Hopefully the owl is fine, I know the crow is as I watched him return.  Once the owl was gone things returned to our normal morning symphony of birdsong.


Needing to stay awake, I to joined the weeding in progress, while my granddaughter moved on to feeding the bees by the bird feeder with Queen’s Anne Lace flower that was pulled from the garden.



After a bit, it was time for a snack, which took us back into the house and some warmth.   My grandson grabbed some sandpaper and attacked a leg of a table I  am working on, his sister joined in, while I decided I might as well start on the headboard for my bed.


The little ones wanted to sew.  I had never let them near the sewing machine before so a nice simple straight line was called for.  I remembered the t-shirts I had saved from the trash.  They would be perfect for new shopping bags.  I cut off the arms and squared the neckline then turned the shirt inside out and sewed the bottom closed.  Ta-da, a new shopping bag.



After making two shopping bags for myself, the little ones wanted their own.  My grandson didn’t want his photographed, so here’s what we did with my granddaughters.  I had a shirt I  picked up at the thrift shop last year for .25 for her, it no longer fits but is stained.  I cut up the shirt the same way I  did my bag, but noticing the elastic on the upper part of the sleeve I made her “sleeves” which she put over the shirt she was wearing.



The neckline I trimmed, leaving the cut bow which was the perfect size for a headband to hold her hair back.


And here she is happy with her bag.   She was thrilled with her bag which she said she will carry a bottle of water, snacks and some toys with her to the beach. Let’s hope she has plenty of beach days left this year.  A shirt which was outgrown, stained ( no use to anyone else) now has three uses, zero waste! Oh and you might notice my grandson needed a hairband as well, it came from one of my bags.



The day warmed some and knowing we won’t have many more nice days left, when the little ones went home I headed back out to the gardens.  It was time to work a few of the tilled areas to ready for next year.  Why hard work is so rewarding I’ll never know, but I stayed out there until my body ached.  My back, arms, and wrists had finally given out which meant it was time to quit for the day.



One section cleared of weeds, roots and most of the rocks.

Storm moving in. I tried to rush the job, but it blew over.

Storm moving in. I need to rush.


Rushing to complete this bed before the storm I tossed the red plum flyers in the bed.

Rushing to complete this bed before the storm I tossed the red plum flyers in the bed.

Now covered with cardboard and held in place it's ready to begin filling with peat moss and can be another compost bed through fall.

Now covered with cardboard and held in place it’s ready to begin filling with peat moss and can be another compost bed through fall.


I had thought I would just work until the storm hit, but since it blew over I went to work on another section we had tilled this spring.

Tike to clear this area.

Time to clear this area.


So much better, but boy am I  sore now.

So much better, but boy am I sore now.


Out of flyers, just weighed down another piece of cardboard.

Out of flyers, just weighed down another piece of cardboard.

For the past two weeks the 2 pieces of cardboard were covering this area. You can see this will be much easier to till now.

For the past two weeks the 2 pieces of cardboard were covering this area. You can see this will be easier to till now.



Now for the deer deterrent:   I wanted a natural way to deter the deer from devouring the garden.  I spread my son’s Golden Retriever’s fur through the beds, and hung CDs/DVDs across the beds.  This really worked!  I also sprinkled ground egg shells through the gardens for extra calcium.  Now the egg shells I have heard will deter smaller animals since they are sharp and that may be working because we have plenty of rabbits, but not a one has touched the lettuce.


When I hung the discs, I used what I had on hand at that moment.  What I found was polyester thread.  it’s still there holding strong, but hanging the discs with the same thread wasn’t too successful.  The thread slid as the wind blew and they would get so tangled I couldn’t separate them.  I cut the discs down and hung them from pieces of clothes line I had left over from the patio chairs.  This has helped, but hanging them from the polyester thread they still move as the wind passes over them.  I can at least untangle them, but it’s annoying to find them hanging in a group and not spread out across the vegetable beds.


This is what I find daily over every bed.

When I hung the first discs I hadn’t hung anything over the little one’s garden as it was just planted.  Once the plants started to grow, and I had collected more discs, I tried using more of the clothesline to string across the bed and to dangle the discs.  As you can see I have no problem with this solution.  I never have to separate the discs and they don’t move along the line with the wind.

That's the little one's garden in the distance. You can see the discs have remained right where I put them a few weeks ago

That’s the little one’s garden in the distance. You can see the discs have remained right where I put them a few weeks ago,not like the ones you can see to the left over my watermelons.  By, George I think she’s got it.


So there you have it.  Cheap, inexpensive deer-deterrent.  Just don’t attempt to use thread it will just cause a massive headache.

What tricks have you found to keep the deer out of your garden?


  1. I love this post Lois! And the t-shirt bags (and hairbands) are brilliant. Thanks for including all these great photographs of the step by step process. And your grandkids are adorable! Oh, and it’s always those storms we hurry up to finish before that decide to pass us by, isn’t it? Rather than the ones we’re not ready for.. they always arrive! ;)
    Hugs, Gina

    • Gina, the children are hysterical, they are so used to my repurposing and enjoy seeing what I can come up with that they will bring me things they find or have broken and ask me what I can do with it.

      Yes, it’s funny how a storm can blow over but I was glad of it that day as it gave me more time outdoors.

    • The T-shirt bags are a big thing right now. I’ve given a few out and hear they are easy to tuck in a purse or store in the car as they fold so easily and they really do hold up well.

      The deer….I have to add more of the CDs and paint can lids as our deer don’t listen to the experts. I read they wouldn’t eat squash so didn’t put anything over those plants. They ate squash! Our deer aren’t the picky eaters. :-)

  2. Pingback: Ouch! I Think I Overdid It | Plain Talk and Ordinary Wisdom

  3. Here’s a thought on hanging the discs … tie little “stops” on either side of the loop which holds the CDs … then they can still move around but can’t slide along the thread/line. You are so inspiring … I read your posts and want to get busy! :-)

    • Small Footprints, I like that idea. I had considered something like that, but don’t have anything that would really work on hand. But using the clothes line has been great and will most-likely be what I use next year, as I don’t believe the thread would work well for a second year. The nice thing about the CDs is that when the season is over and I have to bring everything indoors they will take up so little space over things like netting and hoop houses.

      I’m glad I inspire you to get busy, just don’t get too busy that takes all the fun out of life. :-)

  4. What great little helpers you have! And not a bit of wonder you were tired, you did really a lot of hard work right there! I can’t offer any suggestions as to the deer, but about the car, could your son try to sell the car privately and use the cash then against his new car?

    • Yes, P, I do have great helpers. I’m hoping as they get older they will still enjoy working in the gardens and nature in general so I always leave it up to them to suggest working.

      The car, well it’s something he will have to consider. The reason he has the vehicle he does is because our winters are so harsh and working 3rd shift driving through country roads to get back and forth to work most vehicles can’t handle the conditions. But being as he is an adult I stay out of his affairs unless asked for my opinion. :-)

  5. First of all, Kudos to your son for deciding to get a more fuel efficient vehicle!

    Secondly, can you explain a bit more about the cardboard/newspaper trick? Is this to kill the weeds so you can start a garden there, or is it a sort of mulch to keep moisture in for existing garden? I’ve never seen this done before so I’m curious! I always start my gardens by digging out the sod and then turning the soil with a pitchfork.

    • Cat, I don’t remember if it was the book Square Foot Gardening or Lasagna Gardening that I first heard about newspaper and cardboard being laid down first. Basically when you till and clear you can never get everything. By laying at least 4 thicknesses of newsprint or thick cardboard down first and building a bed over that it will eventually kill all the seeds/roots (with the exception of some really hardy ones) and give you a mostly weed-free garden.

      When my neighbor was tossing the large cardboard out I grabbed it instead and temporarily laid it down to start killing off the weeds in one area, but now with new areas cleared I moved it to its permanent spot where I will start filling with peat moss and building it up with food scraps and other compostable things to have rich soil next year. Eventually the paper breaks down and the nutrients will mix with the soil underneath, what you end up with is wonderful fertile soil.

      As for the car, it’s an ongoing situation. My son owns a Honda Pilot. Not the best in gas but very good for getting around here in the winter. He tried to trade it in on another used vehicle but found the dealerships refuse to take in on trade any vehicle that has 75,000 miles or more on it..unless you are trading it in for a brand-new vehicle. Talk about ridiculous! He’s now considering his options.

      • Well, that sucks about the trade in. I’ve never bought a car from a dealership… Actually, I’ve never really bought a car – still driving my college graduation present! But that does seem a tad bit unreasonable to me.

        Thanks for the info on the cardboard. I may have to consider trying that system, especially with my front yard xeriscape stuff.

        • Cat, I am amazed every time you mention you still have the same car you received when you graduated from college. I wish I could say that. I have always driven my cars until they die, but have owned a total of 8 cars since the age of 17. That works out to just about one every 4 years. But there were three that were complete lemons. One I destroyed by taking it from PA to AZ where the heat fried the engine, cars really are built for where they are sold. Most lasted me 7 years on average.

          The cardboard would work fantastic with your xeriscape. Unlike weed blocking fabrics they will break down enough so you can add new plantings when you want and if you do have a weed come through you won’t ruin it like fabric trying to pull the weed.

  6. It really is hard work to clear an area. Last year I cleared about a 2 foot path on three sides of my shed. I dug about 1 foot down and removed every rock and weed and visible bits of root. It looked immaculate. The next summer it completely filled in with weeds again – I bet a combination of bits left in the soil, and bits blown into the area. It’s amazing how nature prevails!

        • Have you tried lining with a corrugated cardboard? I put down newsprint, then cardboard then fill with soil and plant. It tends to work rather well. In the Little Cove I planted my plants then surrounded them with newsprint and covered that with mulch. No problem with weeds growing up through that, although I did have a new sumac sapling and a blackberry plant make it through, but better than all the weeds.

        • Have you tried lining with a corrugated cardboard? I put down newsprint, then cardboard then fill with soil and plant. It tends to work rather well. In the Little Cove I planted my plants then surrounded them with newsprint and covered that with mulch. No problem with weeds growing up through that, although I did have a new sumac sapling and a blackberry plant make it through, but better than all the weeds.

    • Bethany, several years ago when the local stores began selling the reusable bags I bought a handful. I was dismayed to see what they were made of and how after a while they would start falling apart. I am down to my last two and needed new bags, but I wasn’t buying those plastic things again. Hence the t-shirts. :-) Even if I should get a hole or tear they will be much easier to repair.

  7. What fun to have your grandchildren over and a fun day they will remember forever! Also creative ideas with t-shirts:-) It was so good to see others that use cardboard and newspaper to start their gardens. My neighbors use to wonder what I was doing, but it is the best way to start a garden /build a compost pile. CD’s and egg shells…great ideas that I have to try next spring. I have a fenced in backyard , and the deer in the city are becoming a problem. I found two the other day, a fawn and mother wandering down the road because some people moved into a home and are outside all the time. The previous owner was an older woman that never went outside, so they could continue their normal route through the yards to the ravine between the apartments and homes. Our city is having a problem. I don’t have any problems at the moment since they usually stay on their path, but if they decide to cut through my yard I will have problems!

    • Robbie, so many cities have grown to the point that the wildlife are losing their habitats it’s really sad that we haven’t taken in to account the requirements of the animals already there before we over-built an area.

      I love using cardboard and paper to start my gardens. I didn’t have enough stocked to do much this year, which left me with way too much weeding to do. I find it’s a better alternative to use those unwanted red plum flyers in the gardens than to toss them in the recycling bins each week. We have 16 apartments in our building, but will find anywhere from 20-over 30 of those flyers left here. It frustrates me all the trees cut down for something no one wants in the first place.

      I’ve also been picking out as many of the rocks as I can, I’ve never seen such rocky soil before, so when everything does break down the soil underneath will be so much better. It’s a long job and I can’t get them all.

      You are fortunate to have a fenced yard, I think some days I would like that but at the same time I really do enjoy watching the animals that visit here. Never a perfect world. :-)

  8. gosh, just found another idea, claim is it works real well, and person created the recipe from reading ingredients in commercial deer repellants..

    put one raw egg in spray bottle, fill with water, put in one tsp or so of dish soap (helps it to stick to plants). mix gently.
    put bottle in hot sun for three days. spray a little on plants, and re apply after rain. deer hate the smell

  9. Some how I don’t think I’ll ever have problem deer in my vegie patch! My stepmother uses C’Ds in her garden to keep away blackbirds and it seems to work. I use crushed up egg shells to keep away snails and slugs from my seedlings which seems to work quite well. You’ve made terrific progress with your field :)

  10. okay, just been doing a bit more research, as one never knows when I will need this for my own deer…

    just read suggestion to tie strips of white sheet about a meter high off of ground. as this blows in wind it will scare off deer, as a flashing white underside of the deer tale is a sign of danger.

    also, apparently they do not like the smell of vinegar, so suggestion is to spritz vinegar around.

    • I think the sheets would work similar to the CDs. They are startled by movement so anything that moves works, I heard the idea of the CDs and the fact that they move and are shiny was why I decided to try them. As for the vinegar, I use it to kill weeds. If you spray it too close to your plants they can be killed off, so I don’t let any get near my gardens.

  11. oh, asked what tricks I have tried to keep the critters at bay..

    well the first yr we tried to have a was nicely dug up in middle of backyard. by that point we already had steady yard visitors of rabbits and deer. our son (maybe ten or so), was concerned the critters would eat our garden, yet wanted to provide for them, so he did an enormous amount of work, digging rock yard ground up in a back corner and planted tons of lettuce just for the critters..

    would you believe, neither the rabbits or deer ate more than half dozen bites of our garden, or his lettuce/carrot patch…Seriously, we would watch them out the window, and they would go around the yard/garden/flower bed, and pick out weeds…Seriously.

    we do not use chemicals, and pick weeds by hand, so we figured they like our weeds, as they had no chemicals. and of late I have been seeing more and more blogs talking about edible weeds/tasty weeds. Our deer and rabbits were way ahead of their times.

    Other than that, in other years, we’ve had a lot of neighbours bitterly complaining about deer / rabbits eating the flowers in the front. Heard this complaint right off yrs back when we moved in. Had some huge jars of black pepper and also some of red pepper spice (Do not use any with salt) , and I would go around and sprinkle a little over the flowers. My thinking was, these animals always sniff their food first to judge if it is ready to eat. Few whiffs of pepper, and they go elsewhere.

    • How cute of your son, Lynn. I am shocked you didn’t have your garden devoured! I sure wish the deer and other critters ate my weeds we have so many here. I had read all sorts of gardening books this past winter, all said not to worry about squashes and melons as the deer won’t touch them. How wrong they were. I know it’s the deer because their hoof prints are all over the area where the plants were eaten.

      I try not to take any credit for the gardens here or the seating area. I tell people it’s for everyone, but the one thing I did state was this had to be a chemical free garden area. So far everyone agreed with that, and even shared the fact that they want GM free plants there as well. So nice we all agreed.

      I like your idea of the black pepper and red pepper spice. I may have to give that a try next summer around the flowers and see if they will leave them alone. You would think the amount of land we left wild (way more than we cleared) would be enough but no, they seem to believe I have planted the flowers for their pleasure.

  12. Lois, I am frequently astonished by the amount of work you get done…You are very organized/or methodical, or something, but you have a way of “getting on”. Always hoping some of that skill will rub off on me, if I read this blog long enough…grin.

    re your grandchildren, thank you once more for sharing their time/activities/work.

    again, I notice the amount of values and ethics and goodwill and generosity and goodness you are helping to grow them with. This gift and effort from you (to them) really will be with them fore ever, and really will be passed on to their children/grandchildren (you’re “making” a darn fine legacy for yourself)..

    just in case you ever ponder if the grandchildren will remember (once grown) the things you have grown in them, I am pretty sure they will. Myself, I can vividly remember/picture much of what I did on the farm as a three/four/five year old.

    • Lynn, if all my grandchildren remember is that I loved them with all my heart and take away a love of nature and knowledge of how to grow their own food (and appreciate it) my job will be done.

      As for what I get accomplished, I don’t do other things. The household chores are way behind right now because I would rather be outside. It’s all about priorities and what we love. Dishes, not so much. Pulling weeds or creating something is much more fun. :-)

  13. oh my so productive. If I took photos of my days, there’d be a lot of spreadsheets and paperwork, though I am lucky to be on site a bit and see more interesting things. Where I was this morning, I had a harbour glimpse – just lovely! Glad the deer deterrent worked – and zero waste!!

    • If I had to work a regular job again it would have to be one that allowed me to be outdoors most of the day, well, not during winter.

      The deer are leaving the garden alone,now if Mother Nature cooperated. It was a fun day, time with the little one’s, time alone in the field, and a little re-purposing. Good day even if I am sore all over right now. My wrist and neck seem to have plenty to say to me right now.:-)

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