Animals In Appalachia

Break Dancing Deer

Today’s guest post was written by Randy Harris.

Doe looking at camera

My mother and father lived in a little hamlet in northwest Georgia called Sugar Valley. They were out and away from everything but about 15 minutes to the nearest town, which was Calhoun. Now, my Dad, known as Papa Clent to most everybody, had Mr. MacGregor’s garden!   

His rows were straight as trace line. There wasn’t a weed for two counties that dared set up house in his garden. His corn was straight with pretty tassels and when he pulled a roast’neer, it was meaty and full. 

Well, one year he planted peas. Like English peas, but the doggone deer kept getting in them and eating them down. It was war and one thing you can count on with a Harris is when we go to war, we go to win!   

He put up a 8 foot hogwire fence and the little vermin would jump it flat footed. That made Daddy madder. He was a short man with a HUGE presence and we teased a lot about him being like Elmer Fudd; he was gonna get him a deer (instead of a bunny wabbit).   

Well, Daddy went down the road a piece to where a ranger with the national forest (Chattahoochee National Forest, John’s Mountain distric) lived.   

Daddy said, Mike those dat-blasted deer are eating my peas and I can’t have that so what do I need to do to get rid of them. Mike said well Clent, deer love them some English peas and they’ll do most anything to get to them, but if you want my advice, go out there and set you a pole in the middle of the garden. Drop you a power line out there and then hookup one of them motion sensor lights and then set a radio to some of that God-awful Rap crap and that’ll scare them off.   

In one of the light plugs he screwed in a strobe light and in the other he put in a plug-in receptacle and then plugged a radio into and set it to one of those wacko-wacko stations out of Chattanooga. He was all set. (We don’t understand Rap music in my family.)   

When them deer jumped that fence, that light was gonna trigger and that would be that and his peas would be safe. Life was good, right?   

Well, a night or two later Daddy said he woke to what sounded like a woman being beaten while they chanted in the background. He said for a few seconds there his blood ran backwards. He rolled over and all that light flashing in their bathroom window looked like ET had stopped to pick him some tomatoes for the trip. For a second he thought he was having a nightmare and vowed to never eat banana pudding before going to bed. He could see the silhouette of Mama standing there looking out back taking it all in.   

He said Coot (Her God-forsaken nickname. They deny any knowledge of how she got it. I’d deny that one too!), what on earth is going on out there. Mama quietly said, I’m standing here watching them deer out there break dancing in your garden while they eat your peas! 

Pop gave up!   

Pop died in 2010 and Lord knows I miss that character. They broke the mold on him. He was also chief deputy in Gordon County and when he died his visitation was supposed to be from 4-7pm. We had to open the line early and it ran solid until almost 9pm. I can only hope I leave that kind of legacy! Needless to say, I’ll never be able to fill Papa Clent’s shoes but I do try to keep his stew alive. Not many folks today eat Brunswick stew any more but I haven’t met anybody yet that don’t like Papa Clent’s Stew. It’s my way of keeping a little bit of him here.   


I hope you enjoyed Randy’s post as much as I did. I don’t know what I would have liked to have seen more the break dancing deer or Randy’s mother taking it all in 🙂

Last Night’s Video: Why I Drink Postum and Granny’s Simple Hot Chocolate Recipe.

Tipper

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50 Comments

  • Reply
    Gigi
    February 5, 2022 at 10:08 am

    That was a great story. That had me hung right in there. Loved it.

  • Reply
    BC
    January 27, 2022 at 7:30 pm

    Loved this very funny story! Thank you, Randy. I would like to have the recipe for Papa Clent’s Brunswick Stew.

    • Reply
      Randy
      January 30, 2022 at 10:28 am

      Thank you for your kind words. As much as I’d love to share Papa Clent’s Stew recipe, if I did, I swear he haunt me! 🙂 Stew recipes in the South are guarded like moonshine so please don’t think me being snooty, but to my knowledge there are four people that know the full recipe and we’re vowed to take it to the grave with us. 🙂 Again, thank you for the kind words.

  • Reply
    Tammy Howard
    January 27, 2022 at 6:15 am

    This reminded so much of my Dad and his struggle with keeping the deer out of the garden back home in Kentucky! Thank you so much for this memory!

  • Reply
    Cynthia
    January 26, 2022 at 8:28 pm

    I’m still laughing! Deer are destructive!

  • Reply
    Neva Slocum
    January 26, 2022 at 8:05 pm

    My daughter put in a small garden last year. When the corn was just about ready to ripen she noticed that the corn stalks were shakin’ and shiverin’. All of a sudden a Bull Elk raised his head and looked at my daughter. Evidently he was not too concerned about her as he went back to munchin’. Every time he would lower his head the stalks would start shaking and shivering again. When the herd finally started to move off, there was at least 10 to 15 elk in and around the garden. We found out that they only like the tassels and silk on the corn. But they really like the greenery of sweet meat squash too. But at least they left the fruit alone.

  • Reply
    Gloria Hayes
    January 26, 2022 at 2:49 pm

    Well, I got my laugh for today. What a great story, break dancing dear. LOL Can’t wait to share this one with my husband. Thanks Tipper and Randy.

    • Reply
      Randy
      January 30, 2022 at 10:28 am

      Thank you!!

  • Reply
    Robert
    January 26, 2022 at 2:42 pm

    Great story and well told, Randy! Thank you, Tipper, for giving it to us.

    Deer weren’t around when I last grew a garden . . . in the city, but I can sympathize because we had ‘coons that loved corn.

    And for all of you who called it music, well, just don’t. Rap Crap is the right term just as Randy used it. Tribal chanting describes it better.

    • Reply
      Tammy Howard
      January 27, 2022 at 6:20 am

      Omg! So many battles with the raccoons!!! Lol! AND the deer!
      I remember one year my Dad decided to camp out each night by the garden in order to scare the raccoons away from the corn. Well, he was able to keep the corn safe but for some reason we let the corn go too long and when we finally pulled the ears, they were tough and too ripe!!!
      Great memory! Thank you!!!

    • Reply
      Randy
      January 30, 2022 at 10:30 am

      Thank you, Robert! Hey, and “just don’t” is right. Whee doggies! I like “tribal chanting.” 🙂

  • Reply
    Patricia Wilson
    January 26, 2022 at 1:23 pm

    I just wonder why anyone would grow peas (except black-eyed peas, of course). I assumed most people were like me – they learned to hate peas and giblet gravy in their elementary school cafeteria. At my early 1950s Kentucky elementary school everyone ate the cafeteria food and for some reason no one brought a lunch from home. Don’t know why that was.

    • Reply
      Randy
      January 30, 2022 at 10:31 am

      Hi Patricia … I hope you’ll give it another try! Home-grown English peas are delicious! Make a nest in some smashed taters and fill it with fresh peas … that is good eats! I agree some of the foods we ate in school should fall under the classification of “MYSTERY MEAT” LOL

  • Reply
    Sandra Myers
    January 26, 2022 at 12:54 pm

    What a funny story! I love it, made me start my day with a good laugh… Thanks for that!!!

  • Reply
    dee
    January 26, 2022 at 11:21 am

    Randy sure did paint a delightful story book picture – an excellent story teller! I know deer are a hindrance to anyone trying to put in a garden but I never thought of using rap music:) That would have been some kind of show:)
    Tipper, I watched your video and liked the way Granny made your hot chocolate which was the same as my Mother. I remember Postum and I think my husband’ had some in the pantry after we married. I tried it, thinking it was like instant coffee but shuttered with the first sip – to me it tasted like that barn stall you mentioned:) It was so many years ago that I don’t remember if I put sugar and milk in it or not. The ingredients you read makes me think I might orta look at it again as that sounds a little healthy:) Recently, they had The Food That Built America on television. One segment was on Milton Hershey and how he built his company and made the recipe for the Hershey Chocolate Bar. Another segment was on the history of Kellog’s and Post. Post had actually worked for Kellog’s before he decided to make his own brand.

    • Reply
      Randy
      January 30, 2022 at 10:32 am

      Thank you, Dee! I’m grateful to Tipper for giving me an opportunity to see if I can write or not. You don’t know how much I appreciate comments like yours.

    • Reply
      Randy
      January 30, 2022 at 11:42 am

      Thank you, Dee!

  • Reply
    Sharon Cole
    January 26, 2022 at 10:59 am

    Enjoyed this story. Still laughing!! Take care and God bless!

    • Reply
      Randy
      January 30, 2022 at 11:42 am

      Thank you, Sharon!

  • Reply
    AWGRIFF
    January 26, 2022 at 10:08 am

    Randy, that was really good and funny too. It also reminded me of one of my uncle’s war with deer eating his garden. He put an electric fence around his garden and hung aluminum pie plates on the wire smeared with peanut butter. In his own words he said when the deer stuck their tongue to the peanut butter they turned inside out.

    • Reply
      Randy
      January 30, 2022 at 10:34 am

      Thank you, AWGRIFF! When you mentioned an electric fence, you reminded me of another Papa Clent story (another day). Thanks for the kind words.

  • Reply
    Christine
    January 26, 2022 at 9:57 am

    What a well told story! I could visualize the garden, Papa Clent’s determination to keep the deer out, the lights and sound system set up and even the deer dancing while eating the English Peas. It was a funny scene running through my head. Besides a fun, descriptive story, I’ve learned what I’m not going to plant in my garden. English Peas…lol…
    Thank you for sharing a fun and useful story!

    • Reply
      Randy
      January 30, 2022 at 10:35 am

      Thank you for the kind words, Christine! English peas may attract the deer but give it a go! There’s just nothing like fresh peas on your plate!

  • Reply
    Patti
    January 26, 2022 at 9:53 am

    I think I’ll be laughing all day. What a great story. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Reply
      Randy
      January 30, 2022 at 10:35 am

      Thank you!

  • Reply
    Kevin Knight
    January 26, 2022 at 9:16 am

    Wonder what Bach or Beethoven would say about RAP? LOL. HMMMM?

    • Reply
      Randy
      January 30, 2022 at 10:36 am

      Kevin .. as the old song goes he might ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN! LOL Needless to say, he might be a little surprised. But lots of folks love it!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 26, 2022 at 9:13 am

    Guess the word went out, “Party every night down at the Harris Farm. Free music, bright lights, sweet peas for dinner and dancing. Every deer welcome. Invite your friends and tell’em to invite their friends. We’ll party till daylight.”

    Did you ever wonder how pioneer farmers made it? They had wolves, bears, deer, mountain lion and turkeys and a lot of them had elk. Anybody ever tried to garden where there are deer know why the rail fence at the Occonaluftee Mountain Farm are 8 feet high. (And they had to cage the apple trees because of the elk.) It’s war when they find out you have something they like and yiu are outnumbered.

    Deer have gotten way too used to people, cars, dogs, lights, music, tv, etc. and become yard animals. Even ” wild” deer are about as wild as free range chickens and less wild than country boys. Too bad flash-bang grenades aren’t available to civilians.

    • Reply
      Randy
      January 30, 2022 at 10:40 am

      The word was definitely out, Ron! “DINNER AT CLENT’S PLACE’ 🙂 I’ve wondered many times how our pioneer Appalachian ancestors did it. Were they that strong? Are we that weak now? I remember being in Alaska once near Turnagain Arm standing along the waters edge. I heard a twig snap and I looked toward the source of the snap and I was looking a moose squarely in the knee. Those things are huge! I did the only thing a man can do at a time like that; I ran like a girl back to my vehicle. 🙂

  • Reply
    Shirl
    January 26, 2022 at 9:05 am

    Rap music will scare any living creature with a heartbeat! A few years ago, I complained to a group of ladies about the deer eating the green beans out of my garden. One of the girls said she had plenty and invited me to come pick a mess. I went to pick beans and was surprised to see her garden was not fenced. I wanted to know her secret for keeping the critters out. She must have taken instruction from Randy’s dad! She had rigged up some sort of motion activated light and sound system and hung it on a shed close by. Not sure if it was rap music, but I’m guessing it was.

    • Reply
      Randy
      January 30, 2022 at 10:41 am

      You just can’t beat the old country ways of doing things! I just wish I’d paid more attention as a younster.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 26, 2022 at 9:04 am

    I never ear nanner puddin before bed either. I scoop me up a big bowl of it and take it to bead with me.

    What is a trace line? I know what a trace chain is but not a trace line.

    • Reply
      Randy
      January 30, 2022 at 10:42 am

      Hi Ed … what I’ve always heard as a trace line and what I was referring to in that story is the coil of line that has blue chalk in it and you snap it down across a board or whatever to lay a straight line to cut it. Papa Clent’s rows were THAT straight.

  • Reply
    Margie G
    January 26, 2022 at 8:40 am

    I really enjoyed this story! Thanks, Tipper, for the early morning laughs and smiles. I’m with you as to which I’d have wanted to see worse- maw taking it all in or the deer getting at those tasty English peas no matter the price! I learned today if you plant peas, get ready to party with deer visitors! Lol. Just the shot of humor I need on this ultra cold morning where I been on the struggle bus trying to get motivated since I slept in til almost 8 hiding under my covers…. brrrrrr!!!

  • Reply
    OpenTheDoor
    January 26, 2022 at 7:16 am

    When I moved here, had no deer problems, the previous resident had been an avid hunter, deer stands all over.
    I have gotten old, no longer trust myself to climb up and down, haven’t hunted the property for a while.
    My garden was fine for a coupla years, until the deer discovered they wouldn’t get shot here.
    I put up a 6 foot fence and that worked until I made the same mistake Papa Clent made, planted some English peas.
    Those must be crack to deer cause that 6 foot fence no longer worked. The next year, no peas, it didn’t matter.
    So, over the 6 foot fence I strung a wire 9 feet up and hung up deer netting.
    Had to rehang the netting a coupla times, until the deer figured out they couldn’t jump that high.
    I don’t think they could see the black netting in the dark.
    I enjoy the wildlife coming in the yard, in the early spring wild turkeys strut through, escorting as many as a dozen fluffy chicks.
    Have herds of deer come to feast on the live oak acorns in the fall.
    All is well once again on Running Dog Farm.
    Door

    • Reply
      Randy
      January 30, 2022 at 10:44 am

      Thank you OPENTHEDOOR! I bet Papa Clent wishes he’d known about that black netting too!

  • Reply
    Linda Rice
    January 26, 2022 at 7:15 am

    OH MY! WHAT A GREAT STORY. HOW I WOULD LOVE TO SEE THOSE DEER DANCING AND EATING PEAS. THANKS FOR SHARING

    • Reply
      Randy
      January 30, 2022 at 11:44 am

      Thank you, Linda!

  • Reply
    Mint2Bee
    January 26, 2022 at 7:10 am

    What a great story – absolutely LOVED it!

    • Reply
      Randy
      January 30, 2022 at 11:44 am

      Thank you MINT2BEE!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 26, 2022 at 7:05 am

    I enjoyed that immensely, Tipper you’ve got you a real storyteller there. you need to hold on to him! It’s a shame he didn’t make a video of the dancing!
    My mother was born and raised in that little corner of Georgia.
    Thank you, Randy.

    • Reply
      Sheryl O Paul
      January 26, 2022 at 9:19 am

      This story will kerp me laughing all day, thanks

    • Reply
      Randy
      January 30, 2022 at 11:45 am

      Thank you MISS CINDY! Your comments made my day!

  • Reply
    Sandra henderson
    January 26, 2022 at 6:54 am

    I laughed so hard! Ha ha ha
    I’m with you, Tipper. I don’t know which I’d ratheer see either! ‍
    I can picture his mother standing there very stoic and matter of fact. arms folded, blank faced, staring in wonderment. Lol
    Goodness knows, what that woman witnessed in all the years married to Randy’s daddy.

    Randy is a great storyteller! He made me visualize this in a very graphic and humorous way.
    Being a peter rabbit fan, I loved the mr. MacGregor s garden reference.

    I hope to read more from randy.

    • Reply
      Randy
      January 30, 2022 at 11:45 am

      Thank you, Sandra!

  • Reply
    Martha D Justice
    January 26, 2022 at 6:46 am

    Randy’s post was wonderful. We have deer around our house also so we know we’ll the challenge of keeping them out of the garden. By the way, we don’t understand rap music either LOL

  • Reply
    Angie Graeber
    January 26, 2022 at 6:14 am

    Love this story, Tipper! What a wonderful legacy Papa Clent left.

    • Reply
      Randy
      January 30, 2022 at 11:46 am

      Thank you, Angie! Papa Clent was larger than life in many ways!

  • Reply
    donna sue
    January 26, 2022 at 5:35 am

    I enjoyed reading Mr. Randy Harris’ guest post about a gardeners number one enemy – a deer. You would think with all the other wild, free, and more accessible vegetation in the neighborhood, they would have no need to get in your garden. Thank you for this humorous tale this morning! It was well written!! My imagination started the day off with a good smile!

    Donna. : )

    • Reply
      Randy
      January 30, 2022 at 11:46 am

      Thank you, Donna Sue!

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