A Cougar, Leapus Buckus, and Lots of Gorgeous Flowers… At Home in Oregon

Leapus Buckus, so named because he jumped over the Maginot Line of our Deer Defense last year, stares up at me in defiance. If I didn’t know better, I would say he is pawing the ground like a bull ready to attack. And check out his antlers! They are in velvet now and growing, but they look like they will be humongous, dwarfing his head.

I awoke with a start as a deer leapt onto the deck next to our bedroom in the middle of the night a few weeks ago. They frequently cross the deck but rarely at night and never at full speed. It got my attention— but nothing like the loud thump that followed. I imagined something big and thought of getting up to look. But it was a moonless, pitch black night. I wouldn’t be able to see anything and the intruders would be long gone anyway, I told myself. I decided to go back to sleep. It wasn’t easy.

Our neighbor Bryan called the next night. “I’m shaking, Curt,” he told me. A hawk had taken out a chicken of his during the day and he had gone out after dark to check on the welfare of the flock. What he found was a pair of eyes staring out at him from one side of a large tree. A long tail stretched out from the other side. It was a cougar. Bryan kept his bright flashlight focused on the cougars eyes and slowly backed away. And then called me.

Suddenly, the loud thump made sense. The cougar had been in hot pursuit of a deer and jumped onto our deck in hot pursuit. Welcome to our neighborhood.

Deer are a common fact of life here. This photo features a pregnant mom and her pregnant ‘teenage’ daughter. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Leapus Buckus wasn’t responsible for both.
It seems that pregnant moms are everywhere. I’ve counted eight. It’s like we are running a maternity ward. This doe has adopted the deck next to Quivera the RV. Another deer is behind her. It isn’t unusual to find four or five deer sleeping around the van.
Given the voracious appetite of deer, drastic steps need to be taken to keep the deer out of our flower, shrub and vegetable gardens. This is our Gabion Cage Maginot Line designed to keep them away from our shrubs. There is a small fence on top of the Gabion cages and an eight foot fence on the sides and back of the garden.
Bird sculptures and lavender serve as part of the defense system. The deer don’t like lavender and the birds plus metallic flowers provide obstacles. They lust after the honeysuckle behind the birds, however, and we found them crawling under the 8-foot side fence a couple of weeks ago. The problem has been corrected. We hope. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
The bird sculptures have become favorite perches for fence lizards, who use them to survey their domain.
We grow other flowers the deer don’t like outside of the protected area, such as this Iris growing in Peggy’s iris garden. I’ve included other iris below this.
We have several types of lavender planted around our house. This one is the first to bloom.
A honey bee stops by to check it out. Soon, there will be hundreds buzzing around.
Poppies are another flower that deer won’t eat. I liked the ladybug here.
Peggy planted poppies the second year we were here. It was the 7th year before they decided to grow. Now they are taking over a hill that was covered in star thistle when we arrived.
This colorful fellow was climbing up the wall of our sunroom right next to the poppies.
The deer like our pioneer rose, which surprises us given its sharp thorns. Peggy lectures them on a regular basis. The Red Buttes are in the background. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
The pioneer rose is an heirloom rose originally brought across the country in wagon trains. It is also known as the Oregon Trail Rose and is found along the Oregon Trail. It’s also found in Texas. Texans are adamant that it is not the “Yellow Rose of Texas” of song fame, and they are right. But I wonder if the “Yellow Rose of Texas” wasn’t named after the yellow rose of Texas? (I expect Linda to comment on this.)
Insects such as this colorful beetle avoid the debate but they love the plant. Hundreds of various insects fly around it feasting— and mating. I kept noticing that when one bug landed, another would land on top of it. They didn’t seem to be fighting.
Just for fun. Peggy and I went out to take photos of the ‘Pink’ moon on April 26th. It wasn’t pink but we did think it was dramatic.
Another photo of the moon.
And in conclusion, Leapus Buckus says, “Y’all come by to see me. Bring apples. Lots of them.” Next Friday I will take you on a hike up the hill in the forest behind our property. I’m eager to show you a trail I just built, wildflowers, an old gold mining operation that extends onto our property, and a deer whose actions are stranger than fiction.

NEXT MONDAY’S POST: It’s back to tales of my early years in Diamond Springs, California and why the town mantra was ‘The Mekemson kids did it.’

27 thoughts on “A Cougar, Leapus Buckus, and Lots of Gorgeous Flowers… At Home in Oregon

  1. Thank goodness there are some things that deer don’t like! We have the same problem with a neighbours pigs — last year we had to construct a complex fence around our veg garden as all the toms were taken up to pig height and not a lettuce was left. It’s very strange wandering through our land and meeting domestic pigs going about their lives — sometimes up to 12 of them! Much better than meeting a cougar! It all looks very beautiful and if you’re happy to share your lives with deer, very lovely.

    • I’m thinking pork roast. 🙂 With applesauce on the side. I keep telling the deer how much I like venison, but they don’t get it. Our main veggie garden is surrounded by an eight foot fence. The other plants they would find delectable are fairly well protected. Just when we think we’ve thwarted them, one will find a way in. The others sit back and watch, eager to take their turn. Fortunately, we’ve caught them in the act, so far and blocked their entry point. –Curt

  2. Every time you mention your home Curt, I think it must be a marvelous place and get a tad envious. We have always lived in urban/suburban areas.
    For a while in the 1980s we lived in New Jersey on a 3-acre lot covered with black oak in an area with many similar lots so it gave the illusion of country. New Jersey was overrun with deer [no one wanted to let hunters kill Bambi] so in winter the starving voracious deer would eat anything in sight including the evergreens planted next to our house. We were sympathetic but called them “rats with antlers.”

    • Peggy and I lucked out in finding our home, Ray. It took a year for our Realtor to finally get what we were looking for. We told him we wanted a house where we couldn’t see other houses. 🙂 He is from LA. I also told him we wanted a house that backed up to National Forest or BLM land. We ended up out in the boonies but not off the grid. It takes about 30 minutes to get into Jacksonville and 40 to Medford so we limit our trips to a couple of times a week. At least we try to. It’s a fairly long commute, but through attractive countryside.
      As for deer, we could use a few more cougars. And maybe a pack of wolves. 🙂 There is a lone wolf passing though now— in search of love. If only we had a female around…

  3. Living amongst the large and small of Nature, eh, Curt? You might want motion-detector lights outside for that cougar? Stay safe you two!! You and Peggy have quite the sets of green thumbs – let’s make sure you both retain them (and the deer get to have their babies).

  4. I almost snorted my coffee at the mention of your maternity ward of deer about your yard. Clearly they feel welcome. Well other than a cougar chasing them at full speed in the middle of the night. A bit of a high adrenaline maternity ward.
    I had no idea that deer did not like lavender or irises. I’ll pass that on to friends and family battling with garden munching deer.

    • They nibble at the irises on occasion, Sue. But never much. Other deer might gulp them down. Best to experiment. 🙂 Start slowly to see what the local herd likes. I’d almost bet on them leaving lavender alone. Please not the almost, however. 🙂 I’m over on the Oregon Coast now and may very well go home to fawns. –Curt

  5. I am constantly battling the deer, Curt and my fences are in bad shape. I love yours. Effective (mostly) and nice and high. We have cougars around here too, but fortunately they’ve stayed away. Not an animal I’d like to run into. Finally, your flowers are beautiful, and thanks for the ideas for deer-repellent varieties!

  6. Nice garden. Although it looks like it took quite a bit of work to create, and probably a fair bit to maintain. I bet even if the deer don’t love your flowers, the bees do.

    • The bees go crazy over the lavender. I’m pretty sure at least a couple of hives are kept busy. The Gabion cages took the work! Imagine moving several tons of rock by hand, Dave. Thanks. –Curt

  7. What an interesting post! You took me on a tour of your garden and I enjoyed every moment of it, stories of deer leaping over obstacles and cougar chasing deer, and all. The sight of those poppies had me spellbound for a moment, and those yellow roses of Texas are gorgeous. I look forward to next week’s post in the wildlands of the uplands!

  8. I grinned at your mention of the Maginot Line. I wonder what the age cutoff is for people who’d understand that reference. Forty, maybe. Certainly thirty, unless they’ve been well educated. It’s a fact that anyone concerned with maintaining aesthetic appeal is going to have a hard time protecting against deer. On the other hand, for what it is, your defense system isn’t that obtrusive, and if it does its job, who cares?

  9. Such a cute little guy that Leapus Buckus… However could such a small one jump the fence and all those young’ins. We came out to them munching away but the fence gate go up tomorrow .. not a minute too soon. Sooo adorable your maternity ward and bob wire Curt. 🤣 Sooooo many beautiful flowers in spite of them and they are pretty cute.
    ❤️❤️💖💖🤗🤗🌷

    • Speaking of ‘full of the dickens’ that you included in your last comment, Cindy. It definitely applies to Leapus Buckus. He comes by every day to look up at the shrubs and contemplate how he might get in.
      Oooh! Get that gate up quick. It’s amazing how fast deer can chomp down a garden. 🙂
      But the flowers are ones the deer don’t like and pretty much leave alone. –Curt

      • oh he is payback for you i’m sure.. .lol. Incarnatied from as your parents. 🤣🤣🤣🤣

        IT’S UP CURT AS OF YESTERDAY!!!!! SOOOO HAPPY.
        Glad you have some he doesn’t like❣️❣️

  10. Once upon a time I lived right next to a stump farm. We started out with some reasonably polite deer back then. They even left the roses planted next to the house alone… but then a local lumber company bought out IP. The locals immediately went to work with a vengeance, complete with burning brush in slash piles followed by aerial spraying. I still have pictures of the helicopter flying overhead with buckets what looked like napalm. We had bought the place when it fronted what looked like a forest, only to pack up in Utah and come back in a few months to what looked like a war zone. The deer decided at that point that ANYTHING I planted was fair game. Come to think of it there was an occasional elk herd, too. They didn’t seem to do as much damage. And cougar sightings… but all I ever got to see of one was tracks. Oh well! 😏

    • So sad. There is a logging company in Chester, Ca. that practices sustainable logging by selective cutting, using slash for energy production, encouraging a variety of trees and plant life to grow, etc. And they make a profit. There is no excuse for the type of devastation that so much of the logging industry practices unless they are forced by law to do otherwise.
      We are one deer here now that hangs out on a regular basis. She’s been having her fawns in our neighborhood for as long as we have been living here. –Curt

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