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RAB MCNEIL: Good fences make good deer neighbours

Rab's finally keep the deer out with his new fence. Or has he?
Rab's finally keep the deer out with his new fence. Or has he?

I have finally finished putting up my fence. You may recall that I started it last year. It’s to keep the deer out, though there was also an obligation in the legal gubbins when I bought the house to maintain all the borders, so to say.

Last year, I completed 50 yards along the top of my demesne, and another 25 were needed down one side. I found the first section gruelling and frustrating, and couldn’t face doing the second. I’d had to learn on the job: about bracing posts, tensioning, the use of concrete. What I learned was never to try it again.

Also, none of the above works. Many of the posts are still a bit wonky, but the main thing is: it does the job.

‘Oh look, it’s a Rab’

Deer had been getting in the garden often recently. The same group of three. They’d look up when I blundered into the back garden and just gawp at me with expressions that said: “Oh, look, it’s a Rab!”

I’d walk towards them and they’d dawdle away before eventually breaking into a gallop.

I don’t mind them – gentle, bonny beasts – but they eat saplings and, worse still, bring a threat of ticks that can cause Lyme disease.

Rab doesn’t mind deer, the bonny beasts, except for the ticks…

I got two of these on me last year, one burrowing into my stomach and another into my thigh.

Concerned, I phoned the doctor’s surgery but, unfortunately, got the Professional Islander: “Oh, ticks! We love ticks here. Can’t get enough of them. Why, a tick was best man at our wedding.”

Luckily, no nasty consequences followed and, right enough, I got another one on me – same place on my thigh again – a couple of weeks ago when putting up the fencing.

The thing about ticks in long grass…

It was an ironic risk I had to take because, to stop the tick-bearing deer getting in, I had to go into the long grass just the other side of my property where the deer habitually roamed and the ticks (actually little spiders) waited on the long grass for dafties like me to come along.

If you get the ticks out quickly enough, you’re fine. But they don’t come out easily and, ideally, you need a special wee stick to twist them off. I invested in a couple of these last year.

The other thing I invested in this year was plastic mesh for the fencing rather than the wire used previously. It was a lot easier to work with and, while it billows aboot in places, it doesn’t look too bad.

The guy with the wonky fences

One disturbing aspect of this amateur DIY project was that I’d make sure every single pole was dead straight. Then, when I looked back along the line, they were all wonky. Uncanny.

I worried that I might become known for it.

“Have you met Rab yet?”

“Rab?” “Aye, ye must ken Rab. The guy with the wonky fences.”

“Oh aye, I ken who you mean now.”

But, luckily, the fences are only visible to a lucky few neighbours. And, in truth, I’m rather proud of them. It’s the nearest I’ve ever come to a construction project. Mind you, I’ll probably look oot the windae in a minute and see three smiling deer standing there.

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