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Spring has finally staggered and stumbled into Cincinnati. It’s been a whole week and a half since I wore my heavy coat, so I finally can take it to the cleaners. A less rewarding chore presents itself—it’s time to maintain the outside of my house.

I admire those who love yard work, but I am not one of them. I abhor temperatures over 75 degrees, kneeling, squatting, dirt under my fingernails, and bugs. Scott feels the same, so last year we paid a landscaper big bucks to rip out and replace the overgrown shrubbery in front of our house. Our new plantings included several dozen of something called “coral bells.”

After a few weeks we noticed that the coral bells were not thriving. In fact, they seemed to be disappearing. Closer inspection revealed hoofprints around the foliage.


Bambi's favorite. It eventually will grow stalks and flowers if it is not eaten.

Now, I’m an animal person. One of the things I enjoy most about my suburban neighborhood is the wildlife that comes out of the “privacy woods” behind our houses. If it were up to me, I’d probably plant the stuff they like and sit around watching Bambi and Thumper chow down. But there are neighbors to placate, property values to maintain. And a critter café could get expensive.

This year Scott did some research and found a product called “Deer Scram.” The manufacturer, Enviro Pro, claims that this product won’t harm the animal, but stimulates a strong fear response by emitting an odor that deer and rabbits associate with their dead kin. The granules are unobtrusive, and humans can’t smell them. You can even order the product from Amazon.com. (Is there anything you can’t order from Amazon.com?) Scott bought the Deer Scram, and it’s working so far.

Who, me?

This reminded me that my sister-in-law Adrienne had a similar problem a few years ago. She lives in a handsome home at the edge of a golf course. Now Adie does love gardening, and her flower beds are showpieces. But she, too, was losing her plants to rabbits and deer.

Someone told Adie that coyote urine would repel the uninvited guests. This also was not cheap. (You know, it’s tough to get the coyotes to pee into those little cups.) But she sent away for a jug of the urine and applied it to her flower beds, and for a while all was well.

Until the evening when Adie looked out and saw an animal standing on her lawn.

No, not a deer or a rabbit.


Right on the edge of a golf course in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

I don’t know what she was so upset about. He didn’t want to eat the plants, after all. And her next application of coyote urine was likely to be free.