Today I made one of my regular pilgrimages to check the ponds for odes and butterflies. There's an alley between the ponds and house, with gates on both sides, although the fence is lower on the habitat/ponds side of the alley.
I usually leave the gates open, then shut them when I come back a few minutes later. I don't know why that didn't happen today, have no memory of it. I think I was moving the water hose from tree to tree and planned on going right back out and moving it. Then my husband said he wanted us to go out for a hamburger. I forgot all about the gate one way or other.
When we arrived back at the house less than an hour later I spied a deer nibbling on our new little apricot tree. I could easily have taken a great photo of it, but instead chose to run the deer off before it consumed any more of our precious tree. Luckily, it only ate one twig and part of another. Could have been much worse.
Bottom line: I will never leave the gate open again. Here's a different deer I saw lounging in the alley later when I went out to move the hose. Gate shut behind me, for sure.
My husband said when he put up the fence forty years ago he did it to keep out horses. There were no deer around then. Since then the town has expanded, people feed the deer, and they're rampant on the streets and yards all over town. Our ponds are accessible to deer, but the habitat we planted has each individual tree caged until it gets big enough to be out of reach of the deer. About half of them are still caged.