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.’

Who Needs a Dog When You Have a Deer?

Blacktail deer stares in window of home in southern Oregon.

“I know you are there Curt. Feed me.” One very pregnant deer showed up on our back porch last week. Here, she is staring in the window at me.

We don’t have a clue why a pregnant doe showed up on the back porch last week at our home in southern Oregon. But there she was, curled up, resting on the cement, and behaving like a dog, a very big dog. She looked up as if to say, “You wouldn’t make a pregnant lady leave, would you?” Or maybe she was saying, “Do you have one of those green apples you occasionally toss out because they are old?” I suspect it was the latter.

Momma doe sleeping on porch in southern Oregon.

We looked out our back door and momma doe was curled up on the porch, sleeping like a dog. Her ears are whipping around to keep off flies.

She looked up, curious about what we were going to do, but hoping it involved food.

She looked up, curious about what we were going to do, hoping it involved food.

Deer have insatiable appetites. We have gone to extreme measures to encourage them to leave our flowers and shrubs alone. Peggy has long discussions with them about what they can eat and can’t. We have planted things that give them tummy aches, such as foxglove. And we are seriously into fencing.

One of the plants we have found that deer won't touch is foxglove. We are planting it liberally around our house.

One of the plants we have found that deer won’t touch is foxglove. We are planting it liberally around our house.

In addition to being deer proof, it provides beautiful flowers.

In addition to being deer proof, it provides beautiful flowers.

Close up.

Close up.

Last week, we put in a number of native Oregonian plants to eventually form a hedge. But first they have to avoid being eaten. This is a fence I put up. It seems to be working.

We recently put in a number of native Oregonian plants to eventually form a hedge. But first they have to grow up and avoid being eaten. This is a deer’s eye view of the fence I put up. The spider-web top is to keep deer from jumping in. The herd comes by daily to check things out. So far, so good.

Last week we made a quick trip to Sacramento, leaving plants and mom behind. We didn’t know what to expect on our return. The plants are fine; mom is gone. I suspect she went off into the forest to have her baby. We are just glad it wasn’t on our back porch. In the meantime, our neighbors reported we have a visiting bear. Things are never dull around here.

This photo is to provide perspective. I have a very comfortable lounge chair that I can swivel around to look out the window.

This is one of my favorite writing spots. I have a very comfortable lounge chair that I can swivel around to look out the window. When the footrest is up, my feet touch the windowsill. The doe in the top picture was pressing her nose to the opposite side of the window. The door on the right provided the view of her lying down.

The door on the right has a screen that we use when the door is open. Here, Mom has her nose up against the screen looking at me in my chair. Had the screen not been there, she might have invited herself in.

The door has a screen that we use when the door is open. Here, Mom has her nose up against the screen looking at me in my chair. Had the screen not been there, she might have invited herself in. Note the size of her ears.

Later she came over, stood looking in the window at me, and then took a nap.

Later she came over, stood looking in the window at me, and then took a nap.