… other mammals are “in the rut” — which means it’s their mating season. 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 may 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.

– Heloise

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.

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.

– Heloise

DEAR HELOISE:

I save my dryer lint 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. Then the cardboard tube can be recycled.

– Jennifer S.,

Yorba Linda, Calif.

DEAR HELOISE:

Low-fat sour cream, yogurt or cottage cheese mixes nicely with a packet of onion soup mix to make a delicious dip for veggies or pretzels.

– Ann H. in Texas

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