DEAR READERS: A reminder that this time of year, deer (among other mammals) are “in the rut” — which means it’s their mating season. (This is why there’s a baby boom in the spring.)
Set off by the shorter days and an increase in testosterone, male deer can become aggressive and violent.
Keep a close eye on your pets, especially dogs. Cats are at risk for attack, but by nature they tend to avoid deer, whereas a dog is more apt to want to chase and play with a deer that might get in your yard.
To that end, NEVER leave food in your yard. Make sure your fencing is secure, and always have your dog on a leash. Don’t leave your dog outside unsupervised.
The rutting season slows down in December.
DEAR HELOISE: There’s a skunk hole under one of my sheds, and I discovered a way to keep skunks from using that hole: I put my used coffee grounds in front of it! I started noticing no activity at the skunk hole.
My motion-sensing camera catches skunks wandering through my yard fairly often at night. I see them go near the skunk hole, sniff it and keep going.
— Linda C., Tri-Cities, Wash.
Know how to grow
DEAR READERS: Growing succulents (cacti, et al.) can be challenging. Here are some hints:
Set them in a south-facing window for best light.
Don’t be afraid to water them. They get a good soaking during a desert deluge. Wait for the soil to dry COMPLETELY before watering again.
Succulents need a good-draining, sandy soil.
Don’t crowd them together, despite what you may see online.
Pick an easy-to-grow succulent, like aloe, if you’re a newbie.
DEAR HELOISE: This is in response to Kathleen from Pennsylvania’s recent concern about lint. I save mine to use as a fire starter when we are camping. Lint burns quickly and easily without putting ash or debris into the air.
To store pieces of lint, I use an old toilet tissue or paper towel roll. You’d be surprised how much lint can fit in these tubes for storage until needed for use. Then the cardboard tube can be recycled.
— Jennifer S., Yorba Linda, Calif.
Protect the face
DEAR HELOISE: While opening bottles, cans and cartons, their contents (like cooking oil, nail polish remover and liquid detergents) came close to splashing my face and my eyes. I create mental reminders to turn my face away while opening them.
— Miss Maui Mary, via email