For 2019, our peach harvest will be much less - under 500 peaches. Plus the "Old Lady" tree is on her last legs - only two main branches left, so I'm going to cut her down and replant a new one after the harvest. However, she will still give us some GREAT peaches ... whereas the ones on the other tree are much smaller. We had a very cool Spring, so presumably that makes the peaches come in later, so while I was picking them in mid-August in 2018, at that time in 2019, there were still a few weeks to go before peak peach ripeness.
HOWEVER, the morning of August 25th, I noticed a pile of peaches on the ground ... and these were the good ones from the "Old Lady" tree.
Based on last year, I was pretty sure what it was - raccoons!
So it was time to borrow the motion activated sprinkler from my neighbor and setup critter-cam! ;-)
We'll call that round #0 won by the Raccoons as they caught me by surprise! ;-)
The motion-activated sprinkler doesn't fire (I'll have to increase the sensitivity) but even with the lawn sprinklers going, they are all over the peach tree ... but fortunately hardly at all on the "Old Lady" tree. A beautiful red fox shows up at 05:24AM ... but gets a bit too close to the sprinkler ... and gets spooked away. He comes back for a longer visit at 6:07AM and nibbles for several minutes on peaches on the ground - I'm OK with that. And then at 6:16AM, a squirrel climbs out on the upper right branch for a nibble. I normally see lots of rabbits, but they are keeping a lower profile with raccoons and foxes around.
It was real interesting to watch the raccoons - not just live on the HD webcam but to go quietly down to the kitchen and observe from the window. They seem to sense something when I first get there, but then just go back to eating. I can actually use my "telephoto headlamp" to add a bit of light to them. I was hoping the webcam would pick up the glowing eyes, but I could not quite get the same exact line of sight and the optics on reflected light from the eyes is very sensitive to that. Besides shining the light through the kitchen window (which they didn't seem bothered by), I just observed - never went outside . I counted at least six raccoons ... and they look a LOT bigger in real life than on the webcam!
A couple of raccoons did climb up in the "good" tree ... but the auto-fire sprinkler hit 'em several times (I aimed it into the branches) and this seemed to eventually discourage them from going up there ... especially since it was a LOT easier to just go to the pile of peaches on the grass! Again, I never "shushed" them and they just all ambled off on their own ... and never came back, so they "filled up" for the night.
There were only a few dropped peaches from the tree, so the "Easy Picking's Plan" may be the ticket to dramatically reduce the raccoon decimation of my peach trees. I'm debating wrapping the tree trunks in sheet metal to further discourage climbing. However, they may climbs the branch supporting 2x4's ... plus possible they might jump from the neighboring pine trees which I've seen squirrels do. Double LOL if this works because normally I throw the peach remnants in the trash (the trash bags bloat up from the rot) so this would be the ultimate in recycling! ;-)
They first raccoon visit was at 2208M - at least 5 of them. My wife was watching with me ... but once they got up in the left (good) tree and started shaking down peaches, she insisted I scare 'em away (taking her FOOD - that's a $100 in peaches!) ... so I went out there and barked at 'em ... and they slowly ambled off.
Needless to say, they came back a 1/2 hours later. This time there was one raccoon who climbed the right tree and knocked down several peaches - the other three saw 'em fall and said "HEY, this is easy - I don't even have to climb the tree!" and started munching on 'em under the tree ... but NOT coming forward to the "bait pile" which is better lit up for pictures. However, I was able to get a few pictures with my camera of 'em in the semi-shadows.
By then, my wife had the pots & pans out ... I asked are you SURE you want me to do this after 10:00 at night ... since all the neighbors are going to hear it. Hell hath no fury like a Woman scorned ... or in this case, my wife when her FOOD is threatened! ;-)
So the raccoons (and the neighbors) got to hear banging metal. Again, the raccoons ambled (don't run!) to the pine tree to the right ... so with pot in hand for possible defense (!), I quickly grabbed the handful of peaches under the tree and tossed 'em into the "bail pile" ... all the while, hearing the raccoons moving around in the nearby pine tree. While it's the first time they have heard pots & pans, I bet they come back again soon ...
Their 3rd visit started at 0018 and fortunately this time they mostly ate from the "bait pile" ... which gave me the opportunity to get some nice pictures & video with my Canon Camera. After 10 minutes, they ambled off on their own. I figured they were full for the night and would not return. Which I think was correct ... BUT ...
The raccoons are BAACCCKKKK at 0142. But the behavior is different - they are all over the trees - fortunately mostly the right one. It's hard to get a count as they are in the shadows (but the branches are rustling quite a bit), and I'm pretty sure I can count at least six and probably seven. They stick around for 25 minutes!
Then at 0258, the raccoon party has the grand finale. I can actually count TEN of them (watch around 0307) including a "BIG BOY." They stick around for almost 40 minutes. That was it for the night as presumably they are now hungover from the party - no fox unfortunately.
I inspect the damage in the morning - not as many peaches on the ground as you might think, but with that many raccoons, they did a better job of eating all the dropped peaches. Trees are looking thinner ... so I may have to pick 'em early.
I'm employing further defensive counter measures by wrapping the right tree in sheet metal.
The raccoons first showed up just before 9:00PM (earliest ever) and when my wife saw them, she went out there banging pots & pans again. After they slowly ambled off, I said they'll be back ... and they were just a few minutes later. Another visit was made at 2:38AM. All short (~5 minute) visits and looks like it was the family of 5 (or maybe 6) showed up again ... at least not TEN! ;-) BTW, here's the real-time footage of the raccoons visiting for round #7.
So bad news they showed up ... but not surprising since HEY, can you blame them - peaches are yummy! But good news is only one raccoon went up the right tree ... while the remainder stayed on the ground. Even better is nobody went up the left tree. So while I think maybe (?) the chili powder helped, wrapping the left tree in metal was probably the deterrent, so may have to get another piece of metal for the right tree ...