Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Grape harvest

Yesterday we havested the grapes. We only had 340 pounds this year, quite a bit smaller yield than last year. But we had only netted three rows of red grapes and before we could get to them the birds had pretty much done in the white grapes. So no grape jelly this year. With the heat and the cold winter, we haven't had blackberries, cherries, plums, or enough peaches to preserve. Fortunately, there is still some jam left from last year.

We net the grapes against birds, mostly. This year only one got caught in the net and died. It was a female downy woodpecker and I was really sad to discover its body in the net. Yesterday morning, however, Tom saw three raccoons in the nets. Two ran away before I got there, but the third, a small one, couldn't get out of the net. It kept running along the trellis until finally Tom could get the net lifted and it lumbered out. They had eaten quite a few grapes from the bottom of the vines, but we think yesterday was their first day. It's good we harvested yesterday, though, because I knew they had found a good thing and would have been back.

That's only the second raccoon I've seen out here. The first one was at night; years ago I heard something in the garage and opened the door in time to see a huge raccoon running away. It had been eating the dog food, no doubt. Nikki, the husky Tom had at that time, was sitting idly by. Perhaps experience had taught her not to mess with raccoons.

Thunder and Rosie used to make a huge racket when they saw a possum and they killed a couple when they were first here. I assume the possums have learned to steer away from our front yard. We think the dogs should have a similar effect on raccoons, but perhaps with all the heat and lack of rain the animals are getting desperate. We actually left a few grapes for the birds.

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