This is what greeted us yesterday morning when we went out to the orchard. Our newly deer-proof-fenced orchard.
This freshly planted Lapin cherry tree probably doesn't have enough leaves left to photosynthesize sufficient food for the tree to live until next spring. We'll pamper it and care for it and do our best to see it through, but it doesn't look good.
A few of the other trees were munched as well, but none this badly. We are stunned.
Once we got over our immediate shock we made a circuit of the fence line, trying to figure out how a deer could have got in. Our neighbour Nick didn't have any new damage to his trees, so we don't think a deer got in over the fence we share with him. There is one spot at the back where the existing fence sags a bit, leaving a gap between the top of it and the lowest of the three wires we strung. It would take an athletically-gifted jumping deer to thread itself through that gap, but maybe it's possible. So we strung an extra line of wire there and in a few other places we can't imagine a deer getting in, but we were desperate to try everything.
Maybe 7 1/2 feet high just isn't enough?
What I can't figure out is why a deer would go to so much trouble to get into our orchard. After all, we live in the middle of a forest, with lots of tender green things for a deer to eat. And judging from the number of leaves bitten off but lying whole on the ground, the deer didn't even like the taste of our tree that much.
Our neighbour Nick, the source of much helpful farming wisdom, encouraged us to not get too riled up about it. His idea is that you do the best you can, but count on losing things every year, to deer or rabbits or insects or diseases - it's all part of the life. Instead of focusing on the 20% you lose, revel in the 80% you successfully grow.
We're working on it.