Growing anything here is a challenge, and vegetables are no exception.  This last weekend was rather interesting, and informative for us.  While outside, working on the new chicken ark, a very fearless doe was browsing less than 20 feet from where we were working for most of the afternoon.

This doe looks innocent enough, but...

At one point we caught her taking a nap in the bracken ferns in front of the house.  Later she was running up and down the hillsides chomping on rampant wild Himalayan blackberry vines, and fresh young growth on the Bay Laurel trees.

Then she passed right by us on her way out to the meadow adjacent to the orchard.  At first she was just grazing some weeds…but then we caught her testing the fence.  She was trying to push underneath.  The fence didn’t give.  She moved along and tested it again.  She really meant it…and so did we.  We don’t mind if she wants to help with weed control outside the fence, but this behavior was simply unacceptable, so I leapt up, and ran, waving my arms, yelling and screaming toward her and chased her off.

She came back, again…and again…and again, as if to spite us.  Then she disappeared.  Apparently she was lurking, watching, waiting for us to leave, and plotting her next move.  A few minutes after we entered the house, she wandered up onto the front deck, and we caught her peering straight through the living room window!  This was alarming because this area is currently being used as our transplant nursery, because up until now, the deer wouldn’t climb the stairs to get up on the deck.  Neither of our terribly well trained watch dogs even noticed!!!

No, they're not cute! These two couch potatoes didn't hear the doe walking on the front deck, or see her staring through the front window...they're BOTH fired!


We chased her off the deck.  About half an hour later, when we went up into the vegetable gardens…we found her again.  This time, INSIDE the deer fence.  Somehow, she found her way past the fence.  It seems she managed to push under the fence along the uphill section, between the two runs of deer fence.

We found her point of entry along this fence line, where she'd pulled up the ground stakes that anchor the fence into the soil

Getting her out was a challenge, and panicked that she’d been caught within the gardens, she ran straight toward the fence, bursting through it behind the mature redwood grove.  This is the down side of using even heavy duty plastic deer fence.  Challenged head on, at full speed, the fence can break.

We must have caught her soon after she found her way into the gardens.  The fruit trees were unharmed, thankfully, as most are now recovering from their previous assaults, and pushing new growth.  However, she’d made a bee-line for the blueberries, and the crop will be very scant this year.  The raspberries were similarly ravaged, and will likely be non-existent this season.

This Summit raspberry was blooming last week, now the entire plant has been defoliated

Despite acres of lush green spring growth around the property, this doe was like a heat-seeking missile all day long, and was unbelievably determined to break into the gardens, almost as if she was trying to make a point.  Repeatedly testing the fence boundary until she found a weak point.  We repaired the fence, and are now seriously considering adding a hot wire around the perimeter.

Despite the carnage to the berry crops, the rest of the garden was unscathed, including some ‘sacrificial’ greens we’d planted some time ago to test whether or not the deer were still getting over the fence.  Last night, some of those greens suddenly seemed to be pleading with us to be harvested, and we were happy to oblige.

This green oak-leaf lettuce is destined for our salad

We trimmed some lovely red and green oak leaf lettuces for our salad, and they were dressed with a simple champagne vinaigrette.  We harvested a wonderful collection of red winter kale, Tatsoi Asian greens, and spinach…and decided they’d be destined for a spring greens pizza.

We still have winter kale, growing under cover, to protect it from the warm sun

Spinach and Tatsoi

Some good friends introduced us to a simple pizza last year as a means of using up an overabundance of dark leafy greens.

Washed Kale, Tatsoi and Spinach

We made our traditional cornmeal pizza dough, and topped it with some sauteed onion, a couple of large handfuls of assorted wilted greens, and about 2 ounces of sliced prosciutto.

Pizza, ready for the oven

We brushed the edge of the crust with a little olive oil, and baked it 450F for 12 minutes.  Then in the last 2 minutes of cooking, we cracked an egg, spread it thinly over the top with the tines of a fork, returned it to the oven and cooked the pizza until the egg is just set, approximately 2 minutes more.  We were skeptical about egg on a pizza too the first time we tried it…but it’s remarkably good…and when you have chickens, you find novel uses for eggs!

Pizza with spring greens, and simple salad, makes a divine dinner

Dinner was extra special, because it was enjoyed with the knowledge of all our greens have had to endure to make it from mere seeds, to the kitchen.  It’s just not easy being greens, at least not in our gardens, so we’re especially grateful to finally enjoy them!