After coming home to work today to find the garden ravaged once more, the culprit became clear. A portion of the fence was torn off at the top, and judging by the extent of the damage to the garden only one animal could have managed it, and that would be a deer. It is true that they haven't gone after the tomatoes just yet, but at this point I feel like it is just a matter of time before they've finished off all of the stuff they want to eat and go after the plants they've been avoiding so far.
Still the sadness over the losses in the garden was compounded by an unintentional victim of the netting around the garden. While trying to slip underneath the netting a chipmunk managed to get himself entangled. I put on some gloves to hold him, and used scissors to cut him and the netting away from the fence proper. Then while holding him steady Michelle slowly but surely snipped him free.
As you can see in the picture above the poor little guy was so exhausted that he was falling asleep in my hands. His eyes kept closing, and then popping back open in alarm. He'd obviously exhausted himself struggling to free himself. I didn't want to just set him off in his weakened state so we placed him in a large bucket with bedding, water, and some walnuts. Michelle was amazed at the fervor with which he attacked the walnuts, only to fall asleep while eating one.
He's sleeping out in his bucket on the sun porch. We felt it was safest to put him out there, if he should jump out all we'll have to do is open it up and let him escape on his own time. I'm hoping to let him go in the morning, and I hope he makes a full recovery.
Michelle seemed pretty peeved at me when I suggested that I'd like to put up a taller fence to keep the deer out of the garden, so I'm not sure where to go from here. I might try tying up some fishing line between trees near the edge of the garden where they jumped over. Since they can't see it I've heard it spooks them into staying away. That or perhaps some Deer repellent spray.
Another other option is to just not plant the things they seem to be eating, which means stick to tomatoes and mustard. They've chowed down on pretty much everything else I've planted from the carrots, to radishes, to peas and beans. That, or sit at home every day with a baseball bat. Hiding in the shed ready to jump out and scare them away should they venture into the area. That doesn't seem like a very viable solution though.
The final option would be to just give up on the garden all together. While I derive a lot of enjoyment out of the act of gardening, I don't enjoy the sinking feeling of despair when I return home to a ravaged patch of land that used to be my garden. In my mind right now I either build a larger fence, or give up on the garden for the year. Perhaps I'll try planting some cover crops and then try again next year with a higher, better fence. In any case, nothing more will happen tonight.