A Shock to the system

From regular contributor Corey Naughton

Fight them or feed them?
Fight them or feed them?
Like many of those who live off-grid I like to eat healthy. There comes a point when one must define what “healthy” is exactly. At the very least, we must personally define what is NOT healthy and avoid those items with the small exception of occasional indulgences (can you say “bacon”). Many will be surprised to learn that things they think are healthy are in fact not. For those of you who have not yet discovered the dangers of pesticide laden and GMO foods … This might be a wake up call. This quick story very clearly helped me add yet another “healthy” item to my list of things to avoid.

Saturday: Through a local program I was able to procure ~120 lbs of fresh veggies. This made for a bit of an issue however as many of these veggies were getting old and needed to be processed immediately. My canner and I worked overtime all evening to get through as much as possible. While sorting through this vast pile of veggies there were of course a few which were to far gone. I set them all aside to be added to my compost pile with the scraps the next day.

Sunday: Sarah and I are outside with our coffee inspecting the fresh sprouts popping up in all of our beds (always an exciting time). A noise a short distance from of drew our attention and we looked up to see the local family of Desert mule deer (I live in Arizona). They smelled the latest veggies I dropped into the compost pile and were also looking to snatch up any hay/straw which may have fallen outside the fence (they come by all the time). As the deer are accustomed to us they keep a watchful eye but stand and graze in the 20-40 ft range typically. We talk to the deer to keep them off edge and they mostly ignore us while the poke around the fence line.

The Idea: Realizing I had a few veggies in the kitchen which hadn’t yet made it to the compost pile I decided to give them a treat. *Note – I very rarely do as follows as I don’t want the deer to become accustomed to or dependent on humans for food. Anyways, I go inside and find the following bits; 1 roma tomato (from the local program), 2 summer squash (from the local program), and 1 apple which I picked up at the local big box store a few days earlier and forgot to eat.

The Act: I bring the 4 fruits/veggies outside for the deer. First, I toss the tomato over the fence. Second goes one of the squash. Third goes the second squash (which slips off my finger and hits the big doe, sorry). Lastly, I toss the apple a bit farther as to ensure the younger does and fawns get a chance at it (they stay a bit further than the big doe on average).

The Response: The big doe slowly walks over and gobbles up the roma (I swear she winked at me). While she moves on to the nearest squash I see one of the smaller does head to the apple, sniff it, and walk away. I immediately thought this was odd as apples are probably the closest thing to deer candy and these deer are in the Arizona desert eating poorly on average. The big doe finishes her squash and all the youngins ignore the apple … odd. Everything including some dropped hay gets gobbled up and the apple is still sitting untouched. Finally, the big doe heads to the apple. She picks it up, sets it back down, takes a small bite, SPITS IT OUT, and walks away.

I will not eat any more of the grocery store apples. I couldn’t believe the deer were completely opposed to a fresh apple. I had to call my Dad and Step-mom to tell them. I wash store bought fruit but there looks to be enough yuckies retained within the apple itself to turn off an animal living in a harsh environment.

We must all personally define what “healthy” means. I IMPLORE you to rethink the “healthy” things you buy at the store. I certainly am even as I type this.

2 Responses

  1. We have mule deer and white tail deer, and the occasional hybrid… we don’t “feed” them either, just the rare snack. So far I haven’t found anything ours will not eat, as far as what we toss over the fence… funny creatures, and sometimes smarter than we are :)


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