Terri Kaiser

Critters like my flowers. Big Critters. Critters that have long, skinny legs, and sometimes grow antlers.

They are Critters that look at me with that wide-eyed innocence of, “Who me? You think I ate the tops off your lilies, the buds off your phlox, and mowed your hostas to a stubbly clump? Me?”

Then, with a graceful bow, they nibble some grass before bounding off with a flourish of white, fluffy tail and perked little ears, off to prance through the forest before playing chicken with the humans on the highway.

Yes, thanks to Mr. Walt Disney, we've been fooled into thinking these creatures, these Critters, would never, ever, misbehave. And yes, I know this is northern Wisconsin and deer are a part of the bargain for living here, but while we had dogs, they didn't really bother us. In fact, we kept a set of binoculars by the kitchen sink so we could gaze lovingly at them as they crossed the field out back.

Well, our last dog passed on about two years ago and since then, let's just say, Bambi and her cohorts have come nearer and nearer, like Mrs. Cravitz on 'Bewitched.’ You know, the nosy neighbor who watched every move the Stevens family made. In fact, I think there must be a deer out there with its own set of binoculars watching my plants and as they reach just the right stage in development, signals the others to gather the troops and plan their attack. And they come, in the dead of night, stealthily, quietly, to chew to their hearts’ content.

I've tried various deer and rabbit defenders, and they work, but only until the next rainfall, and considering the amount of rain we can get in a summer, it keeps me running around the yard, spraying like a mad-woman. And before the rain can dry on the leaves, they are back.

And then there are the rabbits. In the movie, 'Bambi,’ Thumper is just the most darling little Critter, isn't he? But that's all part of the plan. Be super-cute and when the humans aren't looking, desecrate everything within reach. We have two spirea bushes in front of the house. The poor things struggle from year to year as it is, and then Thumper and his buddies terrorize them further. And they don't do it right away in the spring. NO, they wait, lulling me into thinking they will leave them alone for once, let them flourish and flower, and then BAM! The next morning they are nothing but a spiky mess.

Speaking of messes, there's Flower the Skunk. He likes to dig little holes all over the yard, presumably digging for grubs, but I know better. This cute little black and white Critter is simply trying to break my spirit by making the yard look like a bomb testing range. I am sure a bonus would be if he could spray the human as well and make her upchuck into the dahlias.

Well, Mr. Disney, I'll give you this - Bambi, Thumper and Flower the Skunk were very cute in the movie. 'Bambi' was my favorite movie as a kid, so maybe that's why it's so hard to stay angry with them. We've actually had a few fawns playing in the yard this year, and two baby bunnies that jump and chase each other like a couple of little kids. At least, Flower has kept his stinky distance. So far.

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