Mulch is another orchard helper. We have managed without it when mulch was not available but it certainly meant more watering. Now when I see spoilt hay for sale at the right price I snap it up because I know I will use it.
I have cages around all of my trees. I don't like them because they are quite ugly but we have rabbits and I have seen the damage they can do. Even in one night they can ringbark trees and then all the effort and money is for nought. The rabbits here seem to have a preference for apple trees with cherry coming in a close second.
Water is vital to the home orchard just like it is to any garden. After the trees have been established though, it isn't often needed, the rain is enough. That has been the case for us this season and we haven't had to give the fruit trees any additional water.
Today I worked solo in the orchard therefore the rewards all my own. Sweet fruit and satisfaction from doing something that is worthwhile to me.