I'm coming off a bad deer year, so forgive me if I sound conflicted about the arrival of spring. Deer are beautiful, graceful and resourceful. But when they gracefully mow down the Swiss chard like a resourceful weed-whacker, I'm less enthralled by their beauty...

I'm coming off a bad deer year, so forgive me if I sound conflicted about the arrival of spring. Deer are beautiful, graceful and resourceful. But when they gracefully mow down the Swiss chard like a resourceful weed-whacker, I'm less enthralled by their beauty. In previous years, the deer had mostly eaten flowers and other ornamental plants that are my wife's department. I was forgiving. OK, I'd say, so they nipped off a few rosebuds. We can share. Then came the Great Broccoli Slaughter of last fall. Suddenly, I wasn't quite so tolerant. See, I had spent weeks picking green worms off the broccoli plants, congratulating myself all the while on the eco-consciousness of the act. No pesticides for me - I was battling bugs without chemicals. And I was winning. The worms had stopped appearing, the broccoli was looking healthy, and I was days away from having a harvest. Then one day I went outside and found nothing but green stubble. The deer had struck in the night. Not to sound paranoid, but I think the deer had been watching those plants. Maybe they'd even been watching me. I can just hear them whispering among themselves about the best time to move in. "Wait another week," a wise doe said. "He's got the worms under control and the plants are really growing now. In a week they'll be perfect. Big enough for us, not quite ready for him." Organized crime - it's an ugly phenomenon, even in nature. And by the way, what kind of deer eats broccoli? Isn't that kind of exotic for a deer? What's next? Are the deer going to start calling in orders for bok choy and mangos? Over the years, they've become bolder, these deer. It used to be they'd run off if I opened a window and shouted at them. Now they often just stand there, as if to say, "You can't touch me. I'm protected by Ohio wildlife laws." I've tried deer repellents, but they wash off with the first rain. I've tried low fences, but the deer just lean over and eat what's behind them. I have not tried wolf urine. I mean, come on, these deer live in the suburbs. How would they even know what a wolf smells like? And even if they did know, they'd probably lump wolves in with dogs, their dumb domesticated cousins. Deer cross freeways, leap barbed wire barriers and navigate hostile suburban territory on a nightly basis. A near-sighted shih tzu isn't like to intimidate them. All the gardening books say the ultimate answer is an 8-foot-high fence around the entire property. Thanks for the advice, experts. But I want something that looks like a backyard, not the Chillicothe Correctional Institution. And don't get me started on "deerproof" plants. Deer don't eat barberry, I'm told. Well guess what? Neither do I. I think the answer might be the very opposite of that. Everyone in the neighborhood ought to plant things that deer absolutely love. Then there would be a chance that by the time they reached my yard, they'd be too stuffed to eat another bite of broccoli. --Joe Blundo's column So to Speak appears in the Life section of The Columbus Dispatch. Visit his blog at Dispatch.com.