So there I was wrapping the blossoming fruit on my apple tree in pantyhose when I nearly fell off my ladder.

Perhaps I should back up.

I have a beautiful, old red delicious apple tree in my yard. Unfortunately, pests penetrate the skin and spoil the flesh of the fruit every summer. After researching a number of pesticide free ways to prevent this malady I came across a series of blogs that touted using the feet of pantyhose to deter pests. Apparently the footies allow the water and light to pass through and expand to accommodate the growth of the fruit. The hose also irritate the heck out of the feet of pests, so they land on the fruit only to take off and look elsewhere to lay their eggs. I got my hands on some footies and went to work.

I was having a wonderful time wrapping these baby apples, dreaming of the pie, apple brandy, and fresh fruit I’d enjoy this coming fall. I was feeling confident and cool, feeling like I could live off this land someday. Look at me, wrapping apples. I bet I could grow anything in a greenhouse. After all, hadn’t I just harvested baskets of rhubarb two weekends in a row and fed my partner and friends cobbler and pie?

Ruminating on my amateur farm steading successes I turned around to check on my dog. That’s when I nearly fell off of my ladder. Less than four feet away from me stood a large mama deer and two small fawns. As I made eye contact I felt their patience, almost as if we were at the grocery store and they were waiting for me to move my cart aside so they could get to the produce. Or in this case, my apples.

My apples! The apples that I’d spent hours wrapping in nylons! No way. Every weekend I watch the deer saunter into the yard to dine. They feast upon the fuchsias. They snack on the snowball flowers. They devour my rhodies. As there are enough flowers to go around, I’m more than willing to share. But this time I was drawing the line: They would never take my apples.

Still on my ladder I reached out and clapped my hands at them loudly. They just stared at me. I did it again, adding a ‘Shoo!’ to the routine. Mostly unperturbed, Mom casually loped away. The two adorable fawns, however, just stood there looking at me with great curiosity. I clapped my hands once more and they scampered after her. I turned around, looked at my tree, and smiled that I managed to save one thing from the deer.

A minute later I heard the same deer take off as a neighbor shooed them out of their yard. I recalled my memories of seeing Bambi in the theater at age 5 and the guilt set in. Did I really just chase two adorable fawns out of my yard? Did I deny a mama deer the opportunity to teach them how to feed themselves? Does this deer family run from place to place, trying to scavenge a meal before they’re forced to move along? A mom desperate to feed to her babies being shunned at every turn? This wasn’t sitting well with me.

Magnanimously I decided that I didn’t own this property in the spiritual sense. I’m merely a caretaker for my generation. Technically, I was in the woods and was encroaching on their territory. I made a decision that I felt struck a fair bargain between myself and the deer: I wouldn’t wrap anymore apples in pantyhose. I’d leave the rest to the deer and we’d share the bounty.

Extremely satisfied with this arrangement I shared my decision with my partner. He smiled as he listened and said he was glad I’d worked it out.
The next day I rose at the usual pre-dawn hour and, steaming mug of coffee in hand, took a walk. I left my apple tree for last. Walking toward it something didn’t look quite right. All those pantyhose feet had looked like absurd ornaments on a well decorated tree. I couldn’t quite make them out in the early morning light.

As I closed in on the tree I was dumbstruck. Everything was gone. The new fruit. The new leaves. All of the footies. Shredded pantyhose littered the ground. It looked like a nylon massacre with no survivors. Dumbstruck, I returned to the house to report back to my partner.

‘Did the deer not agree to your arrangement to share the fruit?’ he asked innocently.

Lesson learned. There are no negotiations with nature.

Alicia Diefenbach

My name is Alicia Diefenbach and I’m a Community Relations Specialist at Verity Credit Union.  I absolutely love my role at Verity!  I have the opportunity to explore the communities in which we’re located, reach out to organizations and individuals making these places dynamic, inviting places to live, and get involved with activities that support their well-being.

In my spare time I dote on my vegetable garden.  It still never ceases to amaze me that I can create my dinner out of dirt, some seeds, and cooperative weather.   I love my dog, Frank.  Also, I go to rock shows.  A whole lotta rock shows.

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