Bucks, Birds, Borers, Bees

The harvest time brings its own set of problems: for every fruit, its own pest. My orchard produces apples, blueberries, peaches, and raspberries. These in turn attract bucks, birds, borers, and bees.

There’s a deer family on the property. We’ve been noticing a pair of fawns for several weeks, often with their mother keeping a careful eye on their frolics. The buck, who undoubtedly has important business to attend to, is never seen with them but is often seen en route to his own projects. Now that the apples are beginning to fall from the old apple trees that came with the property, the doe is frequently seen alone under the trees. Perhaps she feels that green apples are hard on young stomachs or maybe she wanted them all for herself. Yesterday the town trimmer came down the road to cut back brush and, deciding that one of my old apple trees was overshadowing the road, gave it a severe trimming that shook the tree until it rained apples. I picked up 450 but there were still many left. Late in the day, the doe was there with both fawns. There was enough for all and to spare. But the apple trees I have planted myself are still ripening and have to be fenced to keep the buck from rubbing his antlers on them or reaching up to sample some on low branches.

The peach pest is the borer. It requires a painting or spraying with a foul liquid once a year. Sometimes I forget and the branches and peaches extrude a clear gum where the borers have been at work.

Blueberries are the favorite fruit of catbirds. I put caging up over the blueberry bushes but didn’t get it tight to the ground the first year. The catbirds quickly found the chink in the armor and got in anyway. This year I’ve been more careful and gotten most of the berries for myself. When I go into the cage to pick, the catbirds come and complain about being left out.

As for the raspberries, it’s bees that are the bother. Bumble bees come and pollinate the raspberries in their slow, careful way and that’s fine. But the ripening berries attract a tribe of tiny bees that come and eat out the center of each berry, leaving only a tattered fringe. They seem to get bored after a week or two and leave me the rest but I can also put some soapy water in a jar and knock them into it. That slows them up a lot.

Bucks, birds, borers, bees; I often envy Beowulf who had only monsters and dragons to worry about.

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