We had our first work party at the end of March. It was lots of fun, and we got a lot accomplished. At the beginning of the week, we borrowed a neighbour’s tractor and rented an auger to dig holes for fence posts and plants. From the forest, we hauled the biggest logs we could carry to serve as the posts for the first section of permanent deer fence around the orchard. The tractor also made quick work of moving an old pile of wood chips down into the new orchard to mulch the trees. By the end of the week, we were ready for the crowd to help us plant the trees and build an 8-foot fence to keep the deer and elk from eating them.
The crew planted over 80 fruit and nut trees, and installed 20 fence posts before lunch. After lunch we slowed down, but got a few more posts and trees installed and then relaxed with some home brew. While the adults were working hard, a swarm of kids were off in the forest making bows and arrows and building a fort with all the limbs and logs left behind from cutting the posts. If only I could harness that energy for my projects…
So, now the property looks like we’re constructing a new prison yard. We had no idea how imposing the posts would be (not to mention how much work it would be hauling those giant logs out of the forest). This seems like a good time to test out several methods of deer fencing. Most resources say an 8-foot fence is the most effective way to keep them out, but there are a lot of other suggestions as well. In addition to the 8-foot fence, we plan to try a double four foot fence spaced about 5 feet apart. We think two smaller fences will be much easier and cheaper to build than one large one, and will look more attractive. It also creates a nice area to run chickens or other small animals when we want to keep them out of the orchard.
As a temporary measure, we will also try using fishing line in small areas to see if it would work in a pinch. The idea is that deer don’t see the fishing line and get spooked when they bump into it. We strung up two rows of 50-lb test line on 5-ft t-posts. The line was broken once in the first week, but hasn’t been bothered since.