Well, we'd been warned. Deer will rub antlers on young trees.
But they seemed to leave our Lacey Oak alone all year -- well, as it turns out that's because it isn't until fall that they do the antler rub thing! We noticed the damage while planting our new Anachacho Orchid nearby. Cry. I haven't had a deer incident this major since they ate my beloved Spotted Squill, a.k.a Alien Tentacle Plant! Well, there's also the pineapple sage, but I can't be 100% sure on that one, as it was closer to the house.
I think the tree will be ok. The damage isn't all the way around, and it's on only one of the three main trunks. But I'm also very glad we noticed it today and not tomorrow, because tonight more damage might have occurred.
And luckily when we planted the Lacey Oak, I also bought the materials to protect it with. Perhaps actually using said materials might have been the wiser path... But we at least had them in the garage and didn't have to go shopping.
So now we have one of those yards with the goofy fences around the trees. We decided to put the Anacacho behind bars with the Lacey Oak to protect it, too. It's the first understory tree to go under the story of the Lacey Oak. This would be more impressive were the trees, say, bigger. But they will grow!
Now for some good news -- the disappearing fountain is back and functioning again! We never did solve the mystery of the shifted rock, which led to the unexpected emptying of our new disappearing fountain and potential pump damage. But happily the pump still functions, and our fountain still remains the $40 disappearing fountain! We changed up the rock structure, so hopefully it will be harder for some creature to displace the tube. That little rock is only there for interest, not for directing the water flow.
Whether it was cat or deer or rain or human or Sasquatch that caused the tube to shift, we'll never know. But I still think a deer is likely responsible for the removal of the nearby pineapple sage. And the nursery didn't have any the last time I was there. I was sad. Oh deer.