Backyard Economics · Economics · Uncategorized

Survival of the Fittest: A Backyard Battle Field

Please bear with:  there is an economics lesson somewhere in this story.

When we moved into our house years and years ago everyone mentioned the fabulous blackberries that grew abundantly in the woods.  There were enough to eat right from the bush or to make jam, pies and buckle.   Intrigued, I could not wait until August.  I even read how to make jam and decided against it for that year, maybe the next year…

In any event August came and the blackberries didn’t.  Travelling through the woods I looked far and wide.  No blackberries. Not a one.  Maybe they were dormant that year.  The buckle, the pies, they’d have to wait till next year.

We were also told about the deer.  We live in a city but with a small woods in the back .  The deer tend to wander in from the forest from time to time.  We were told if we paid attention, we might get to see one or two grazing.  Might?  You couldn’t miss them.  They grazed all the time.  They are quite lovely.  And the fawns, with the spots, are so sweet.  But they are a menace.   I tried to garden.  I failed miserably.  They munched my tulips, my roses, my delphinium—even the plants that proclaimed to be deer resistant.  Being a live and let live type of person, I accepted my fate.  I wasn’t meant to be a good gardener and if they chowed-down my first batch of roses, I just appreciated the ones that made it to bloom much more.  Life can be easy if you don’t let things get to you.

Back to the blackberries:  the deer were obviously the culprit.  The blackberries were in abundance when the deer didn’t venture into the city.  However with fewer people hunting, the deer population skyrocketed over the years.  The larger deer herd needs to eat, and the city, with its leash laws, became that much more hospitable to them–no dogs chasing them around.  Simultaneously the coyote made forays out of their habitat in the vast state forests inching themselves closer and closer to civilization.  Fear of their natural predator, the coyote, pushed the deer into the relative security of our urban woods.  Alas, the blackberries were long gone before the sun even had time to ripen the fruit.

Over our years in residence we reclaimed our backyard.   We shooed away the mosquitoes with an intricate drainage system, put in a stone patio, a table and some chairs and a few garden boxes of herbs and flowers.  It is heavenly.  Close to the house we planted a few perennials.  The deer rarely amble up to the house, thus it’s been a moderate success.  Last year a very strange plant grew right next to the house.  We left it alone to see what it was.  It was a cane.  It had thorns.  It grew some leaves.  It grew a few berries.  It was a blackberry bush!  Unfortunately before we harvested the berries, the birds did.


We left the plant alone and this spring another one popped-up, close to the original, but in my small flower garden next to the garage.  I tied it back so both it and the Black Eye Susan had a fighting chance to survive.  Unbelievably, another one popped-up in the lawn.  My husband mows around it for now.  Last week, there were a few tiny little sprouts in the lawn.  We analyzed the leaves…you guessed it…young blackberry shoots.  We spent ten-fifteen minutes pulling them up.  There were more there today.

I’m still puzzling over the economics lesson.  But deer, blackberries, people…we all want to survive and will do what’s necessary to do so.

Blackberries in the back yard.  Very, very close to the house
Blackberries in the back yard. Very, very close to the house.

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