We’ve been using the deer fence since April, so it’s time to reflect on how it’s performing.
The fenced growing area we called Veg Hill is enclosed by a seven-foot high metal hexagrid deer fence we purchased from McGregor Fence Co. in Massachusetts. Installing it took us months of on-again, off again labor, interrupted by several trips, entertaining, holidays, and the time-consuming move from our suburban home to the farm.
The fence was tedious to install, because the fabric is heavy and WILL NOT stretch at all. In retrospect, however, it wasn’t particularly difficult, and it did not require any technical know-how or experience. A fat white boy and his hard-working wife were able to get about 500 running feet of fence installed with lots of turns, twists, and grade changes in about 140 hours of work.
There was a period there when I was making virtually daily calls to the folks at McGregor, long after I had purchased the fencing supplies, and they were always helpful, knowledgeable, and patient in helping me understand how the process worked. I had a question about the puller/cutter for our stainless steel ties that they couldn’t answer, so later that day they put me in touch with the vendor of the cutter, who answered my question AND sent me some extra ties (and those ties aren’t cheap!) to use for practice.
We finally finished the work at the end of March. This is as good a time as any to share with you the video Amanda, Adrian, and I shot as we were completing the fence. It runs a little longer than five minutes.
We’ve gotten so used to the deer fence now that we rarely notice it’s there until someone else sees it and asks about it. It seems to be performing its intended function (keeping out deer and rabbits) flawlessly. We’re not aware of any deer or rabbit damage.
The fabric, posts, hog rings, and ties that make up the fencing system seem to be holding up just fine. The drive-through gate is not particularly strong and has too much “give” for our taste, but we assume that’s part of the price you pay for having a gate that fits seamlessly into a fencing system that is so sleek as to be almost invisible.
Maintenance is going to be a continuing challenge. Weeds are gathering around the fence line like young men around a flirt; climbing weeds are the worst. Twice already now, we have been around the fence line on the inside and the outside, clipping weeds off at the ground. Within 45 days of installation there was some kind of climbing weed that had grown from ground level all the way to the top of the fence line and beyond. So if we let down our guard, the fence could be overrun by weeds in a single season. If you’re willing to spray Roundup around your deer fence perimeter (we’re not), you probably won’t have to struggle with this. You can just struggle instead with a risk of liver disease, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, death to your earthworms and fungi, and learning disabilities in your children.
Finishing the work on the deer fence delayed our getting our early spring garden in, so we have been consistently late all season getting crops in the ground. That has had the effect of stunting our garden so far. Consequently, we’re not ready to say yet what effect the deer fence will have on our growing productivity. Our covenant is that, even if it takes energy away from our summer growing, we WILL get the fall garden started on time, and that’s when the deer pressure was so devastating last year. So soon now, we should have a good, reliable test of the deer fence in terms of the productivity of our planting. Every indication we have now is that production will improve.