First the good news: the deer are back at Two Terrier Vineyards. Which most people in Sonoma would think we were crazy to celebrate. Drive around here and you’ll see most places completely fenced in from the deer. The local hardware store does a brisk business in deer repellant, especially the faux coyote wee that’s marketed under the name “Not Tonight, Deer”. We gave in and fenced the vineyards, since it would only take three hungry deer to strip all our vines. But otherwise, we’re actively trying to attract them. We built a little pond and waterfall to give them water during the dry months and I’m thinking of giving them a salt lick. They faded away into the adjacent State Park recently since John the Baptist has been here with a chainsaw cutting brush. But recently, we’ve seen Chuck the Buck (that’s him at the top of the post) as well as his harem of does hanging around the wine cave and crush pad. That’s no coincidence. Every year after we’ve crushed and pressed, I’ve taken the pressed skins (which, after they’re removed from the press, resemble a very rich Christmas fruitcake) and thrown them over the side of the hill for the deer. They love it! And they’re sensing that the crush is just around the corner, so they’re already lining up.

Not my pic! This is from Corbis Images and looks disturbingly like a stuffed coyote. Mine are just this fat, but considerably more lively.

Which brings me to the next class of critter — or varmint, depending on your point of view. Also back in force are our coyotes. I’ve never managed to get a picture of one — not that they seem all that scared of me. When we were still spending weekends up at the tent cabin, we’d wake up in the morning to find coyote poo on the deck. Which is certainly a coyote way of disrespecting you and your little dogs, too. One morning, one of them strolled by down the path in front of the cabin. The dogs were going crazy but were too scared to leave the cabin. The coyote just looked at us disdainfully, sniffed the air and walked on. He certainly had no reason to fear terriers as he was the size of a young German Shepherd with a full and glossy coat. Clearly the Master of His Domain.

Just the other day, John the Baptist and Louis showed up to cut brush and saw two adults and two or three youngsters skulking in the bushes outside the barn. The coyotes retreated into the brush, but didn’t run away when they saw John and Louis, who reported that these were also coyotes of the fat and sassy persuasion. I know I might feel differently when we have horses, but right now, we’re being overrun by gophers and moles since the rattlesnakes moved on. So coyotes are welcome here. The buffet is laid out.

And speaking of the least welcome little varmints, at the top of the list put whatever is eating up my poor haricot verts before they can even sprout. Judging from the location and quality of the fox poo around here, I’d say the foxes have moved on to the vineyard — which is fine because they aren’t tall enough to grab many grapes. But some little critters are stalking my garden.

Here are my poor little sprouts chewed to the nubbins.

Here are my poor little sprouts chewed to the nubbins. This is my second planting. The first was completely chewed, uprooted and destroyed.

Heres what I hope is critter-proof netting that Im praying will protect the third planting.

Here’s what I hope is critter-proof netting that I’m praying will protect the third planting.

The next tactic is to post a sign that says: “All You Can Eat Buffet, Coyotes Eat FREE!”

Meanwhile in other vineyard news, we may be picking and crushing the Cinsault as early as tomorrow!

Meanwhile in other vineyard news, we may be picking and crushing the Cinsault as early as tomorrow!