Updated for you in April 2016, and again in June 2016 because I’m a meddling control-freak about my posts, and I think somethings I use the word “lovely” too often. Have a lovely day, folks.
Lovely white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) roam about our place in alarmingly high numbers. Wait. That was not strong enough. What I should have written is this: there are are too many stinkin’ deer around these here parts. There. That’s better.
In the late fall, these lovely creatures are hunted for their meat. The meat is tasty and lean. It makes good sausage and jerky and steaks. The deer I see during hunting season seem to have a, well, a hunted and harried mien. They’re trying to get as much living as possible into their day, just in case it is their last.
You can tell that the they know that it’s not hunting season. They blithely bound about: to my orchard to nibble on baby peaches still on the trees, or through my garden, happily finishing off the beet greens and the sugar snap peas, or (alas!) among my lovely blueberry bushes, clipping off buds, branches, berries, all at one fell swoop of those efficient, sharp little teeth. Yep. They are completely different animals. They are not hurried in the slightest.
I do not regard them kindly at these times.
Deer are beautiful in their graceful bounding, their lean and lovely lines, their big expressive eyes and soft muzzles. The fawns are heart-meltingly sweet, with their dear little spots and huge Disney-esque eyes. I can see why so many people abhor the thought of shooting them.
They are also a royal pain in the you-know-what, if you try to grow anything that they like to snack on. And that list is a long one: pine trees. Fruit trees. Garden veg. Berries. So many things.
Please indulge me as I share a tiny bit of deer-related backstory: when we first moved out to the country many years ago, we planted a small orchard right away–about a dozen trees: apples, plums, cherries, peaches, a little bit of everything. The little trees had a good start and they looked great going into our first winter. But. As soon as the young buds and leaves and new growth blossomed out in the spring, they would disappear. The trees would be stripped down to the older branches, overnight.
This is what we found was happening: As soon as the trees put out any kind of fresh new green growth, the deer would move in during the night and eat it all, every last bite. Most of our little trees died, for without leaves they couldn’t put on any new growth.
You are familiar, are you not, Gentle Reader, with photosynthesis? The next year was the same. And the next. The few trees that didn’t die outright just barely hung in there. Of course there were no dreams of fruit, there was just a raggedy effort to keep the trees alive.
What a crushing disappointment! We had moved to the country, in part, so we could grow as much as we liked, and the local deer were killing our orchard trees, one by blessed one. A fence tall enough to keep the deer out wasn’t a possibility–it would have to be at least 8 feet tall. We couldn’t afford a fence that big, nor did we want one.
And even if we could have put up such a high fence, there was every chance that the deer would just leap right over it to get to the goodies inside. Doggone lickity-split bounding greedy deer-faces.
We were down, but we weren’t out. Did we despair? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, we did. Although we replaced the trees one by one, the new trees would get eaten, too.
But I wasn’t going to give up. Really good apples (ask anybody) are probably among my top five favorite foods. And the way to get lots of really good apples (ask anybody) is to raise your own.
So. We tried one thing after another to keep the deer from eating our tender young orchard trees: we put tomato cages around all our orchard trees, but it didn’t work, and it was ugly, to boot. We tried electric fencing, but our brome grass grew so fast that it would ground it, rendering it useless. We collected hair cuttings from our local beautician and scattered them around the perimeter of the little orchard, hoping that the scent of human would keep them at bay. We bought bottles of “Deer Away,” and sprayed it around the orchard.
Nothing worked. It baffled us.
And then. One day I was commiserating with another friend, a gardener and grower who takes her plantings pretty seriously, too.
She shared with me an incredibly easy and cheap solution to keep the deer out, and I went straight home and did exactly what she said and, Gentle Readers, it worked perfectly. The rest, as they say, was history!
I’ve done this one easy thing for years now, and I’m so amazed that it works so well, because it’s so, so easy. It takes just a few minutes to put up, and then a few minutes every now and then to maintain.
And. Gentle Reader: after several years of making and maintaining this one super-simple thing, I have bushels of apples every year, as well as peaches, plums, cherries. . . . and this year I also protected my blueberry bushes–which are loaded, as well–the same way.
Would you like to know what it is? Okay, I’ll stop teasing you. I’ll tell you.
Here is how you can protect your fruit trees or your berry bushes, or your vegetable garden, or your perennial beds, with very little money and very little time. This is all you need:
- a few stout t-posts
- a post driver
- a roll of sturdy fishing line, like this one here:
That’s it! That’s all you need. You even may have these items in your garage or shed right now. I know we did. And this is what you’re going to do:
First, drive the t-posts at the corners of your orchard, or garden, or whatever you want to protect. Then take your fishing line and attach it to a t-post and start to pull a strand to the next post. Wrap it around the second post a few times and proceed to the third post. Again, wrap it tightly and proceed to the fourth and final post.
When you’ve made it completely around your orchard, wrap the fishing line around the post a few times and then start again, at another height, and repeat, until you have two or three strands of the fishing line now protecting your treasures.
A word about heights and safety matters: I think it would be ideal to put up three strands of fishing line as your deer fence: the first one about 10″ off the ground, and then the next two spaced fairly evenly on the t-post above it. We only keep two strands, though, omitting the lowest one, because we have a couple of dogs that regularly run under and get tangled in the lowest strand if we don’t keep it higher off the ground. So if you don’t have this problem, for example if you only keep corgis or dachshunds, then by all means, add the lower line.
But! Keep in mind that this fence is practically invisible, so if you have short little people running around (as do I) then you may want to tie bits of rags or masking tape, or something quite visible so your tots don’t get tangled up in it.
A word about mowing: Fishing line is actually fairly stretchy, and we’ve discovered that you can carefully ease under the bottom line (ours is about 3′ off the ground) with the mower, making mowing around and under the deer fence a snap.
Another important word about safety: Since we do have a mobile little man who races about at break-neck speed, we (obviously) were careful not to string the practically-invisible fishing line at the level where it might catch him in the neck. There is only one place where our mowed path intersects with the fishing line fence, and we strung a strand of very visible white electric fence tape (not electrified, obviously) along with the strands of fishing line, to ensure that little Mack will be reminded of the fence.
Why does it work? Gosh, I don’t know! We do have a hypothesis, however, about why this simple solution to deer fencing really seems to work, and it’s this: we think the deer graze along in our grass, and when their sensitive muzzles brush against the (invisible) fishing line, it startles them, so they strike out in a different direction. If they really wanted to, I’m sure they could crawl under it, or leap over it, but since it is invisible, I don’t think they know what they’re up against!
I’m thinking about the movie Entrapment here, with the deer as Catherine Zeta Jones, working to slip under and between and around the invisible laser beams . . . I love that movie.
A word about maintenance: Because deer can do so much damage through all the seasons, we keep our fishing line fences up all year ’round. But it is important to patrol them every couple weeks or so, because deer will run into them and break them, from time to time. If you keep fishing line out where it’s available to you at all times, it’s just a matter of a few minutes to replace any strands that get broken. This is also why we wind the line around each post, so if one strand gets broken, it stops there and doesn’t ruin the entire fence.
As for me, I walk daily past and around my berry bushes and orchard, on my way to the chicken coop, so it’s a simple matter to check the fences then.
All this makes me very happy. 🙂
So there it is, Gentle Reader: a fence against the deer that is cheap and easy to put up, easy to maintain, practically invisible, and that actually works. Ta-daaa!
If you’re the sort who works hard to plant fruit trees or vegetable gardens or berry bushes, I know that you want to reap the rewards of the delightful rewards that can come from such efforts. If the deer move in and spoil it all, well, it goes without saying that they must be stopped.
So go–build your deer fence–and save your goodies that you work so hard for!
Thank you so much for stopping in today! If you found this information to be helpful to you, would you consider doing one, two, or three very simple things: and I will love you forever! Sign up for e-mail updates in the bitty box above, and ‘like’ my vomitingchicken.com Facebook page, we get into a lot of animated conversations there, really! Then you won’t miss a thing.
And if you would share this post with somebody who might also benefit from it, I’d really be indebted to you. Oh! And please leave me a comment if you tried this fishing line deer fence at your place, and how it worked. I’d love to hear from you.
So simple, really, to win my undying gratitude! 🙂
🙂 Thanks for reading in this space!
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