Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Oh deer!

This weekend we drove across the mountain to Skien to celebrate my mother’s birthday. One of the nicest things about visiting her is seeing all the animals that roam around her house. Although she lives less than a hundred yards from the main road, there is an abundance of wildlife in the small strip of forest stretching past her house and down to river. We have seen hares and badgers, foxes and moose, and even lynx and wolves. But roe deer are the most frequent visitors. Sometimes, they seem to wander around the garden all day long. Obviously they must thrive there, but after months of cold and floundering through half a meter of snow, there were some scrawny creatures that met us this time.

The young male that was born last year seemed to struggle especially much as he dug desperately through the deep snow searching for something edible. When he came closer to us, we saw that he staggered a little as he walked and it was painful to see how emaciated he had become.

Frequently, they gnawed on the pine bushes in an attempt to find something green, but judging by how long they spent chewing every mouthful, this was tough stuff.
We were worried that they might not survive this winter as there are still several months until spring arrives with fresh green shoots to eat, so we drove to a farmer’s outlet to see if they could recommend some fodder for them.

They said corn pellets were the thing. It only cost 7 GBP for a bag of 25 kilos, so it was not exactly expensive. The saleswoman thought the animals might be a bit sceptical at first, but she was confident that they would soon get used to the taste of it.

One problem was how to lead the deer to the food. They use tracks that they rarely stray from and we could hardly expect my 80-year-old mother to wade through snow up to her bum to feed them every day. Hubby found out that he would shovel a path for them, and lay a trail of pellets up to the food tray.

It was not long before one of them came strolling along to see what all this strange activity was about. They were reluctant to go all the way to tray though, but as night fell, we could see three animals there, munching away. There was some pushing and bickering between them, so it was clear that they liked their new goodies. I hope everyone got some.

The next day the tray was licked clean, and numerous tracks revealed the night’s activity.
Now that we have travelled back to the West country again, it's up to Mum to feed them. Seeing as she is such an animal lover, she’ll probably take that task seriously.

Do you have deer in you garden? Maybe it would be a good idea to put out some food for them. A little extra nutrition can mean the difference between life and death, as many animals succumb in such harsh winter months. A salt stone nailed to a tree or post will give the deer valuable minerals even during a normal winter.
Although we curse them in the spring, when they eat our tulips or wreck the bushes, we do appreciate them, and want to enjoy the beauty of their company for many years to come.


  1. Hei!
    Så koselig- fine dyr altså!

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    Klem Anette

  2. fint dyr syns jeg og:)
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    klem m

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