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"Lions and Tigers and Pears - Oh Deer!!"

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Fruit trees in bloom

Rural life has great benefits – clean air, beautiful views, and elbow room for the soul. But it also has its share of hazards: Lions (Mountain), and Tigers (Lillies – toxic to pets) and Pears! (Well, pears are not exactly hazardous, but they can lead to frustration and disappointment.) Here’s the full story:

Earlier this year, we posted a video explaining how to prune fruit trees for better production. After that demo, spring brought excellent results – full, bright blossoms that promised a bounty of apples and pears.

I continued to prune unwanted suckers, spray with organic oil, and generally ensure there were no bugs.  I also took the additional precaution of placing mesh bags over the fruit as it started to form – this was mostly to ward off the large wasps that showed up last year at the end of the season.

As the season continued with exceptional weather the trees produced large clusters of fruit that grew and started to ripen.  (Unfortunately, I did not take a photo, so you’ll just have to trust me on this.)  I was extremely excited that we would have an exceptional variety of fresh, organic fruit this year. I even started researching different recipes for preserving them.

Then that fateful morning, I walked out to the trees and poof!!

Fruit trees in bloom

Every single fruit was gone!!

To add insult to injury, the nasty marauders left chewed-up bags – the very bags designed to protect the fruit!!

Protective Fruit Bags

AAARRGGHH!  So there I was, like Yosemite Sam, stomping around, shaking my fists, mumbling pseudo-curses “racken fracken, ya dirty varmint, why I’m gonna getcha.” And so forth…

Lesson: When Living With Nature, Don’t Make An All-You-Can-Eat Buffet for Wildlife

After continuing in that vein, mumbling to myself for quite a while, I eventually settled down. It dawned on me the raiders were the family of deer we often see on the property. And who could blame them? I had carefully prepared an all-you-can-eat buffet, then graciously presented it in an easy-to-reach, help-yourself arrangement.  I should know better. When living with wildlife, you have to anticipate such things, and I had (naively) assumed that the small fences I had were sufficient. The lesson is: never leave anything to chance.  So, what can I do to prevent this from happening next year?

I immediately set out searching the internet for the best solution. And I was a little shocked at the vast range of options – from dangling soap and hanging noise makers to wolf urine and commercial repellent to (Gasp!) hunting! Yes, one web site actually suggested shooting them for game. But we’re more gatherers than hunters. So after rejecting the options, including repellents (they small like rotten meat) I settled on Occam’s Razor – “the simplest solution is usually the best” – a taller fence. Doh! I already had fences – just add to them!

I guess we’ll see how that works next year.  In the meantime, Debb reminds me that the deer are a gift from our “nature as neighbors” surroundings. And if I’m really craving a pear, there are plenty of them at our local Farmers Markets.

Want to learn more about how NOT to grow organic fruit to feed wildlife? Just Ask!

Filed under: Camas | Nature | News | Organic Gardening