Before we took off for Utah, I took an early morning to clear our tiny cherry tree of its ripe, tart little fruits. Mac joined me as a rustled about the branches. He intercepted the occasional head rub and then continued about his climbing.
I had originally intended to sell the harvest as part of our pop-up produce stand at Lake Dabinawa, but when the whole tree yielded only a few pounds of cherries, I decided to freeze them for our own pies and jams.
Peeking through the orchard before we left revealed that the larger of the cherry trees was loaded with pump green cherries. I was beyond excited to return to a beautifully ripened tree full of fruit. The entire trip, I imagined all the delicious things we’d be making with our mountains for fresh cherries.
Then, we came home.
Our first evening back on the farm, we jumped into the side-by-side and rolled about the farm to inspect the work we had to catch up on. The lawn needed mowed. Many trees needed a fresh trim. A few limbs had fallen in the passing rain storms. The garden desperately needed weeded. And, the orchard…was empty.
The apple trees are still loaded with giant clusters of mini green apples. They’re nowhere near ready to pluck. And the pear trees have a few small pear fruits peeking through their leaves. But the cherry trees – the gorgeous, almost-ready-to-eat cherry trees – are completely empty.
We had noticed the crows, squirrels, raccoons and more that frequent the farm – but never once had we considered that they’d clear an entire tree of fruit in under a week. Even the ground below the tree is virtually empty.
Doing some searching – it seems like raccoons are a very likely culprit. Aaron trapped one in our wood line while trying to catch a runaway guinea. They also got into our chicken feeder while we were away. I’m so sad they stripped the tree and we’ll miss out on such an awesome harvest this year.
Now, we have to figure out how to protect the other fruits on the way. For real, the projects never end!