Saturday, October 8, 2011

Guerilla Harvest

Autumn is here. The rain has already started for the season, early enough that long-time Northcoasters are saying: "Rain sure is EARLY this year."

I have two apple trees in my backyard. They are old trees, and I have no idea what varieties they are--some Gravenstein-y looking types. The tend to ripen sequentially (which is good when processing fruit tree produce, believe me!). The first is ripe. Not a huge harvest because my pole pruner broke last Winter halfway through Winter tree topping. The places I pruned produced some nice sized fruit. The upper unpruned areas have small apples, but they are way too high for me to get. I might catch some droppage. Note to self--GET A NEW POLE PRUNER...

I have just gone out and scooped up the reachable apples before the next rain comes. The way the clouds rolled in this morning, that will be soon. Ugh. Guess I need to make some pies for freezing tonight and tomorrow...

I really had incentive this year to get the fruit off the tree. We had a party in our backyard recently. Not one we arranged and not one we wanted. I am talking a Procyon lotor party. That would be "common raccoon" to us normal folks. And that gathering wasn't just some casual get-together; it was a full-on frat party. My neighbor next door said they had him up all all night while the stomped around on his roof. I heard nothing, myself, but I noticed the next morning that the cat food was gone, the water was all full of mushy kibble and that the open back had been gotten into. "Strange", I thought. "The girls don't eat like that! And that was a new bag. Why is so much gone?" Well, a check in the back corner of the yard showed me. I found a pile of poop. It looked like dog poop at first and I thought "How the HELL did a dog get into our yard?!" The I noticed what looked like blackberries in the poop. The I found another pile. And another. and another. And another. I stopped counting at nine piles of feces, went inside and googled "racoon scat". I got a barrage of images that looked suspiciously like the piles in my backyard.


My cats are getting up there--15 years old and are quite cream-puffy to begin with. No tough tabbies here! I also didn't want my expensive designer cat food becoming the neighborhood smorgasbord. (I use Wysong feline vitality, primarily because it is well rated, the girls like it and even more important, Cappuccino doesn't barf when she eats it. Nothing like groggily stepping barefoot in a pile of cold cat puke early in the morning!)

Jekyll and Hyde: That cute face is not so cute when challenged!

The best way, I think to roll up the welcome mat in my yard is to remove the food sources. I do have a compost bin along the back fence, and I need to dump some grass on top of the contents--a task I will do in a bit. I don't want to trap the animals at this point. A lot of county animal control agencies will take the beasties and euthanize them. I also don't want to handle them myself. Adult racoons can be BIG and are quite adept at defending themselves.
For now, we will try that, along with pruning out the foliage so they have less cover. Nothing like pest control incentive!

UPDATE: I just chatted with my neighbor and his duck Guiseppe had a near miss. My neighbor went mano a mano with Rocky Raccoon, armed with a beer bottle. The duck is OK, but the raccoon was not only unfazed, but unafraid. The pack later lined up on his fence and peered at him through his bedroom window. This is getting a little too Stephen King, here!

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