As we have no dogs, summer begins the raccoon wars.
Pictures of raccoons make them look so cute with their masked faces and ringed tails. For the gardener or homesteader, cute ends there.
Raccoons are vandals. They destroy for the fun of it. If there are five sacks of feed, all five will be ripped open. Even feed raccoons won’t eat is ripped open. Even an army of raccoons can’t eat two hundred fifty pounds of feed in a single night.
Chickens are a favorite meal. Raccoons will often kill five or six, eating one.
Tomatoes are another target. All of the green tomatoes are torn off and left on the ground. Each reddening one has a bite out of it.
I don’t leave sacks of feed available. I lock up my chickens at night. A livetrap is put out near the tomatoes.
These are the opening skirmishes. The real raccoon wars are only a whisper now.
Apple and Asian pear trees are heavy with fruit. This fruit is still small, months from ripening.
The trees are defenseless.
Raccoons have hands. They climb trees and farm buildings easily. They love apples and Asian pears about two weeks before picking time.
The Asian pear trees are separated. Each is hidden inside sheet metal boxes four feet high, put up last year.
The raccoons managed to jump high enough to scramble up and raid the trees. It was difficult enough so most of the crop was still on the trees for us to pick.
My apple tree isn’t so lucky. It grows next to the tractor shed. Last year the large crop vanished before ripening.
The fruit trees are again heavy with fruit. The raccoons are aware of this. We know the raccoons know. The raccoon wars loom.
Maybe we can wrap barbed wire around the boxes. This isn’t practical.
Making the boxes higher will entail putting in a door so we can get to the trees. This isn’t very practical.
Getting a dog isn’t an option. We want the neighbors’ dogs to stay home and need no invitation living here.
At present I am considering an electric fence. This would mean clearing a pathway for the wires. The orchard area has Common Milkweed six to seven feet tall growing among the trees, a sudden drop to the pasture fence on the outside of the trees, the tractor shed and lumber complicating this option.
The raccoons are determined. We are determined. The raccoon wars will be decided by who can out maneuver whom.