The entire apple crop is gone. Disappeared. Stolen! Granted, there were only 2 small trees (this is their first year bearing here), but still ... There were about 2 dozen little apples on one of them; the other tree had lost most of its fruit in one of our fierce winds. But the worst thing is that I aided and abetted in the crime.
My first mistake was misidentifying the culprit, although there may be a several. I thought it was a jack rabbit that was chewing the bark (probably true), and that he was standing on hind legs to get to some of the fruit (probably not true). The additional chicken wire cages I added were pushed in by an animal larger than a jack. As a matter of fact the higher wire provided a support for the animal to lean against while picking the fruit!
The thief? We have not yet caught him red handed (red mouthed?), but yesterday Dan surprised a coyote in the driveway, longingly looking up at the apples. I hope he got a stomach ache.
So, back to the drawing board. I thought that by putting the orchard between the shop/shed, garden, chicken coop and house that the trees would be free from large predators, such as deer, and so far that has proved to be so. I would not have suspected a coyote, but he is an omnivore. We brought out the big guns now by installing an electric fence around the trees. Of course we will have to warn the dogs, and remember ourselves to not go blundering into it on our way to getting some tool from the shed.
Thankfully, only the apple horse has left the barn. There are still ripening apricots, peaches and figs. I am looking forward to hearing a yelp tonight.