It has taken ten years to arrive at this. Ten years of planting fruit trees only to see them die from freeze and thaw, drought, bugs, hungry deer and finally, a voracious longhorn steer. We built fences around individual trees only to see the deer climb over and the steer climb through, breaking branches and stripping the leaves. We decided on strong livestock panels below (to stop the steer) and welded wire strung above (to stop the deer).
It took us two summers of digging post holes, installing panels and then rolls of wire. A few weeks ago we finally finished the project. Feeling quite triumphant that we had at last banished the deer and the steer forevermore, we took a break from the final installment and went to the house for coffee. Thirty minutes later we returned to clean up tools and found a doe deer and her fawn inside our deer-proof fence! We were both slack-jawed with disbelief. After many failed attempts to leap over the fence, the doe and fawn both escaped in a panic by crawling in between the pre-existing old woven wire boundary fence on the north side and the new fence strung above it. The only thing left for us to do was unroll all the old snow fence we had used previously around a grove of caragana trees and wire it up to cover the 8″ gap between the old fence and the new along the north side of the orchard. That seemed to do the trick.
I potted 20 lilac trees from bare root twigs and after two years of growth in the garden, they are now tucked into the ground in our orchard. They will create a grove all along the north side (hopefully they’ll cover the old snow fence) and will provide lots of fragrant blooms for the bees.
Two new apple trees will provide cross pollination for our one lonely standard apple tree that has managed to survive through all the trials and tribulation. In the spring, we will add more apple and plum trees, and then begin the long wait for our very own fruit. I suppose the deer and the steer will be waiting too, but they’ll be outside the fence. Now if only Mother Nature will cut us a break!