Could a critter strip a fruit tree BARE???

joellenh(6b Jenks)July 6, 2010

Yes my garden woes are never ending.

I had this tree that I have been waiting for the fruits to ripen. I don't even remember what I planted..maybe a plum? I went out to check the fruits this morning and they were GONE. Every last one. There were at least 40. No fruit on the ground, and several of the branches were snapped off and damaged. My backyard is fenced with 5' round rail and chain link, and I've never seen anything larger than a squirrel in it.

Could it be raccoons?

This is a picture of my tree last week, before it was accosted.

I am especially down-hearted about this, because it's coming at the same time as my tomato issues (probable blight), and right after the total loss of ALL of my peaches.

I was waiting until today while the kids are in preschool to pick and freeze peaches. My tree was loaded with small but tasty fruits.

Every year, a nice lady calls me and asks if she can have some peaches and offers to pay (the peach is in my front yard right by the road). I always tell her, "Help yourself, they're free". Well, yesterday she picked EVERY.LAST.PEACH.

Sigh. I have no one to blame but myself, because I could have told her "Only take some", or whatever. Next year she's not getting any peaches.

Disappointed in people and four-legged critters and discouraged with growing things,


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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Yes, a critter could. It isn't terribly common at our house, but it has happened a couple of times since we moved here in 1999.

Possible culprits? Raccoons, deer, coyotes, squirrels.

With broken small branches, coons are the best guess.

Squirrels pick fruit and take it with them. In my yard, they're only a minor pest because there are many native fruit trees. If you don't have a lot of native fruit trees around for the squirrels, they might be a major pest for you.

Since you're in northeastern OK, you may be in one of the few counties in our state that has groundhogs. I hope you don't. Groundhogs do climb.

There is no reason to be unduly discouraged. Look at this experience as a very important lesson you needed to learn, and sooner rather than later.

The lesson?

When you grow food, "they" will come. Who's "they"? Everybody and everything. Birds. Insects. Squirrels. Foxes. Rabbits. Deer. Coyotes. Feral hogs. Possums. People. Cows. Horses. Dogs. Donkeys. Cats. (I have a cat who bites the green tops off carrots and decimated my carrot planting this year.) Goats. (!!!!!) Snakes. (to eat the field mice and voles attracted to your crops) Turtles. etc., etc., etc.

LESSON #1: Everyone and everything shows up for free food.

LESSON #2: As a gardener, it is your job to protect your edible crops from those pests. Period. It doesn't matter how much you plant or how carefully you tend it, because if you don't protect your crops from those who would steal them, then you won't have a crop.

You can use exclusion (fencing, electric fences, bird netting, deer netting, etc.), you can use repellents (hot pepper, other unpleasant deer repellents), you can use guardian animals (like a Great Pyreness or something similar) to guard your a bonus, they tend to run off animals lurking around your fruit trees and gardens IF the animals pen or pasture is beside the garden. You can use predator urine (human, or purchased urine from various animals) or dog/cat/people hair scattered around.

You can use a Scarecrow sprinkler.

You can use electric wire fencing you only turn on at night or when you're away during the day.

Sometimes, you have to use all the above and more.

Sometimes you have trap and relocate whatever animals are eating your food. Sometimes you have to shoot them (if you're not in an incorporated area where firing guns is prohibited).

Really good fencing works, but it won't exclude all pests because some of them can go over, under, or through fences. In some places, fruit cages work. (Picture something like a covered chicken run with fencing over the top, but it is taller than the trees and uses wire fencing with SMALL openings to exclude as many pests as possible.)

I'm not saying all this to be discouraging but rather to help you avoid future disappointments. The sooner you do what you can to protect your crops as well as possible, the less future disappointments you'll have.

Look at it this way. All living creatures eat. They experience hunger. If they see food, they don't care who planted it, they are going to eat it. That is life in the real world. So, you can go through the frustration of losing your crops to them every year, or you can work consistently towards developing systems like fences and fruit cages and deer netting and what have you that will protect your crops.

LESSON #3: NO FORM OF CROP PROTECTION WORKS ALL THE TIME. Will you be 100% successful? No. Never. Guess why? Because the critters who eat your food can spend 24 hours a day figuring out how to get your crops since it can mean survival for them. You, on the other hand, have a life beyond your gardening life and cannot spend 24/7 trying to keep them out.

LESSON #4: Other humans can plant and harvest their own fruit if they want some. You are not the world's orchardist and you don't "owe" fruit to anyone.

As for the humans, plant future fruit trees as far from the road as possible. Fence them. Put a lock on the gate. The next time a neighbor asks to have fruit from the tree still out by the road (the one you have planted by the road currently), tell them you have specific plans to freeze or can all the fruit, and then suggest you'll be happy to sell your excess fruit to them for the going ORGANIC rate....which, in my area, for organically-grown peaches is $4.49/lb.

It gives me great joy and pleasure to share fruit, veggies, herbs and flowers with others when I CHOOSE to do so, but otherwise I expect everyone else, animal and human, to keep their paws, bills, beaks, teeth, etc. off my fruit and veggies. That doesn't happen though, unless I have the fences and other mechanisms in place to protect what I grow.

LESSON #5: If you don't protect your crops, expect to lose 50% to 75% of your crops to critters of all kinds. Sometimes you'll lose 100%. Drought years are by far the worst because all the wild things are starving.

So, Jo, my advice is that "you gotta do what you gotta do" and that means learning to protect your crops. Otherwise, you'll suffer endless frustration, year in and year out.

In my opinion, this is what separates the men from the boys, the real gardeners from the wannabees, the women from the girls. If you want to not only grow stuff, but to HARVEST and EAT it, you've got to protect it.

It aggravates my DH greatly when I inform him we need to put a new fence in place to protect something or increase the height of an existing one or whatever, but he's lived here long enough to know that there is no other option unless we're just raising critter chow for them and not for us.

Life is cruel sometimes, and this is one way in which gardening is cruel....edible crops do get eaten by every living being around and not just by whoever planted them and expected to harvest them. You have to outsmart the 'eaters' who are beating you to your food crops.

If you lived next door to Willy Wonka's house, and his trees alongside the road were covered in candy bars and fabulous confections of all kinds, wouldn't everyone walking by help themselves to something wonderful from Willy Wonka's trees? Sure they would. That's why Willy Wonka hides his candy trees in the pasture behind the house.

Cheer up. It could be worse. At least we're not suffering through the Dust Bowl years or the 7-year-drought of the 1950s when you couldn't raise enough of anything for anyone or anything to steal.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 3:14PM
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Jo - sorry to agree on this one, but Dawn is right (again). Produce you work hard to plant, cultivate, and get to growing is always attractive to others (animals and humans) - personally I don't get as aggravated at the animals as the people - it's instinctive with animals. In case you haven't looked already - there may be human footprints around the tree in the backyard too - she probably didn't understand you only meant the tree by the road...sure. We had a truck garden for one summer - people always wanted "to buy" some of our luscious vegetables - and we desperately needed more income. I made the mistake of giving some stuff away to those who "were hungry, but don't have any money right now - I swear I'll pay you later" and some who had health issues and all their money went there, etc, etc. They come back and back and back, always expecting more "freebies" and with another hardluck story and even bringing their friends "to meet the angel of mercy who helped feed their family". When I would see these people at Walmart with a cart of junk food and things I couldn't afford, or coming out of a restaurant we would never be able to go to - I decided to start being a lot more selective with whom I shared with. It's amazing when you tell someone "no money? no problem - we can just trade services - you can hoe or pull weeds or shell peas, etc for a like amount of veggies" - they suddenly have to go. It's a tough world out there and life is not always fair - sorry to tell you that. You can always put out a live-trap for the animals - too bad you can't do that with humans - although I do borrow my DSIL's game cam at times.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 4:09PM
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I'm sorry to hear someone took all of your plums, too! You didn't tell me that earlier! I'm now picturing Jo sitting on the front porch in her gardening clogs, floppy sun-hat, covered in dirt, with a shot-gun in one hand and a trowel in the other. "You keep your paws off my peaches or I'm putting you in my compost bin!!!!!!!"

Seriously though, that lady should be CUT. OFF. I was so excited that your peaches were so wonderful when I tried one (I only got the one I ate in the car - my parents ate the rest you sent home with me!), and now I am sad that this lady stole all of the rest of them AND you won't have any plums for me to eat!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 4:21PM
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joellenh(6b Jenks)

Dawn, your wisdom is, I am sure, a huge reason this forum is so great.

My best guess is coons too. We don't have deer here, at least not according to the vet and none that I have seen. I know coyotes got a swan in a pond less than a block from me, but I haven't seen one, and I *think* our fence would keep them out. The branches weren't little twigs, so I don't think a squirrel could break them. It just shocked me that something took it *ALL*. I mean, how much can a raccoon eat?

Last month we had mulberries for the critters, then peaches and blackberries. I guess last night something decided to come for a snack and take what was left.

I do plan on expanding my "garden fence" next year to include my mini-orchard, so my trees and garden will be double-fenced (backyard fence, garden fence).

If Willy Wonka lived next to me, he'd be in deep trouble.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 4:21PM
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joellenh(6b Jenks)

And now I am just mad. I broke down and sprayed Daconil on the tomatoes this AM, and spent 2+ hours starting to re-stain the kids' playset, and it's RAINING. EEK!!!

(When it rains it pours).

However, I have two healthy great kids, a wonderful husband, some fresh tomatoes, and a glass of chardonnay screaming "Drink me Jo"!!!

So I guess I will choose to be happy and make better plans moving forward.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 4:33PM
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joellenh(6b Jenks)

PS Kelley I'm not even sure they were plums. I could have sworn I planted an apricot there. I was looking forward to tasting it to see what the heck it was!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 4:35PM
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joellen, I feel your pain. A couple years ago a planted a peach tree in my back yard. This year was going to be my first harvest. The tree had at least 30-40 nice sized peaches just calling my name. Unfortunately, they were calling someone else's name too. Earlier this week, I noticed every single fruit was gone from my tree. Not sure if it was an animal or a person, but I was heartbroken. Well, there's always next year.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 6:54PM
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Most of my neighbors are wonderful, but I guess there always has to be an exception. We have one home owner that has a bit of a different life style than the rest of us, but he is OK, just parties a lot. But then there are the four rented mobiles that all belong to one person. I think there must be a form they fill out that says they have a hard time keeping a job, they have a large disfunctional immediate family, relatives that may need to move it, and at least 3 or 4 dogs that they promise to let run loose.

I have tomatoes in containers out in the area of my yard that is not fenced. When I was watering them yesterday, I heard a man's voice say something about "them tomatoes". I was sure to pick all of the blusing ones this morning. No, I'm not paranoid. LOL

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 7:35PM
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joellenh(6b Jenks)

LOL Soonergranmom, I would have done the same. Frankly, I probably would have brought my tomatoes inside, in case they pee in them (JUST KIDDING)!!!

I only have one neighboring house and they are wonderful. To the west and north are vacant properties a developer is trying to sell. To the East is the road, and across the street, more developed land pending sale.

To the South, we have our wonderful neighbors and their daughter Kelleyp125...who is EVIL to the bone, but would never steal my plums. ;)

I like them so much, that when I fenced last year, I paid a LOT extra for a gate between our properties so we could pop back and forth.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 8:51PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Jo, Guess how I got so 'smart' about critters? By fighting them for the harvest every year. I learned painful lessons the hard way and am hoping to help you learn it more quickly than I did!

COONS: How much can they eat? Twice as much as you have. I've had a coon, or maybe a family of coons, wipe out approximately 400 ears of corn in one night some years. (In other years, they come back night after night and take some each night.) A relative of a friend of ours here lost a half-acre corn planting to coons a couple of years ago and didn't get a single ear from it, even though he trapped and shot 18 coons on 18 consecutive nights. By the 19th night, there were no coons left to trap, but there also was no corn left either.

DEER: Trust me, you have deer there. Deer are found in every county in the state of Oklahoma. You might not have widespread deer, but you have deer. I see deer almost daily here, so I likely have more here than y'all have there. Last week we had a visit from twin spotted fawns. They were precious, and they were headed right for my fruit trees when I saw them.

Kelly, I agree, that lady should be cut off. If she loves peaches so much, she can plant and maintain her own tree. Too many people are lazy and want for someone else to do the work. Remember the children's Little Golden Book about "The Little Red Hen". Well, y'all, we are the little red hens.

Jo, That's the problem with Daconil in a very rainy have to respray more often than you'd like if you're having heavy and frequent rainfall.

The leaves in the photo you posted are identical to peach foliage or maybe apricot foliage. Plum foliage looks different. The fruit, though, look more like plums, although I think Red Haven or Redskin or some sort of red-skinned peach could look like that when almost fully ripe.

Oz, Sorry to hear about your 'stolen' harvest. Between you and Jo, I'm starting to think it is two-legged thieves. Critters usually leave tracks, signs, etc. and especially partially-eaten fruit. Humans would take all the fruit and not likely leave any peach pits or half-eaten fruit behind.

Carol, On the Urban Gardening forum (does that still exist?) there always have been constant complaints of stolen fruit and veggies....even entire plantings. That would drive me nuts! I am so grateful for our neighbors! Our neighbors are the best of the best....just the most wonderful people, every single one of them! I think we are truly blessed.

Jo, With that much empty land around you, you may have more wildlife roaming at night than you think. Also, people driving around randomly looking for fruit trees to raid would be more likely to choose trees in a somewhat secluded area like yours.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 10:37PM
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Last year we had our entire first grape harvest stolen. Apparently the thief also decided to break into our modular, use the facilities and proceeded to steal hundreds of pounds of food stuff which we had been saving. Later we found out that an escaped convict was in the area. Anyway, we purchased our Anatolian Shepherd, to accompany our Pyrenees. Bravo, about to turn one year old, probably weighs about 140 lb now. He does a good job of guarding the homestead. Though, I have to get it through his head that small chickens are not chew toys.

When I was a kid, we had 23 kinds of fruit on one acre, in a suburban setting in NJ. We actually had station wagon loads of people "jump us." Discharging "assault teams" on our fruit trees. They'd break limbs to reach fruit and within minutes, they'd be out of there! It was aggravating to say the least. When our economy finally arrives where our leaders have so diligently been pointing it, I'm afraid to think of what may happen over food "out in the open."


    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 5:54AM
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joellenh(6b Jenks)

My first thought was people too. Because there was nothing on the ground. But my husband said someone would have to be really stupid to jump a 5' high fence in order to steal a few plums/nectarines. Guess what? People are stupid. And greedy.

I GUESS a racoon could have climbed our fence. I've just never, ever seen one, and I do let the dogs out at night for a potty break.

But sadly, they are a pomeranian and a papillon, and a raccoon would probably try to eat them too.

My next dog will be a big one.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 8:56AM
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Jo - Yes, we have deer and coyotes. Not as many as we used to have, because of the neighborhoods, but we still have them. Dad has seen a few deer within the last few months.

Also... with our lovely gate (which is FANTASTIC - can you imagine how much of a pain it would be to deliver food back and forth without it? The only improvement on this system we could make would be to install a zip tube like bank drive-thrus use!), is it possible that a two-footed creature broke into your back yard and stripped your tree? I'm inclined to think there is a connection between moochy lady (tell me who it is - I'll shake the info out of her!!!) taking ALL of your peaches and ALL of your plums/peaches/apricots/pluots disappearing without a trace. I don't like to think of someone helping themself to your backyard, because our backyard is also right there! Hopefully that isn't the case, but maybe the lady just got greedy and thought that since you said it was okay, she could take whatever the heck she wanted.

I thought about your playset when it started pouring rain yesterday! I thought to myself, "ooooooh, Jo just poured herself another glass of wine... Yikes."

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 9:53AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

George, I agree with you that if the economy worsens much more, it may be open season on food crops being grown in sight of the public. How sad is that?

Jo, I have one dog who kills coons when he encounters them, but my other dogs turn and run and hide. Coons are vicious fighters and can kill a dog or cat if they choose. My dogs are big, weighing between 45 and 150 lbs. or so, but one reason they've lived so long is they avoid fighting with raccoons, skunks and coyotes.

As far as people climbing or jumping a fence to steal fruit or veggies....oh, yes they will. People will steal anything. A little over a month ago, one of our ranching neighbors had a gate stolen from his fence. I'm talking about a working gate in use in a pasture....not some extra gate that was lying around behind the barn or something.

In some parts of the country, people who have evergreen trees on their property spray them in October with a pink substance that temporarily dyes the trees a color about the same as Pepto Bismo. Why? Because people come onto their property and cut down/steal their trees to use as Christmas trees.

It is a sad fact of life that some people will steal your fruits, veggies, herbs and flowers. And don't even get me started on people who drive out into the country in the late fall and early winter and help themselves to pecans from trees growing on someone's property! Just because the tree is 'out in the country' doesn't mean it does not belong to somebody.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 10:22AM
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When I saw the headline of this string, I immediately said yeah, HECK yeah. I thought back to about 2000 or maybe 2001 when I had all my little (4 to 5 foot) peach trees stripped, first of the leaves and then of all the bark, by grasshoppers. They just died, DEAD, all of them. I was just sick. That was a very VERY HOT string of years around then. My neighbor had given them to me a couple of years before, in the fall as seedlings when they came up under their peach trees. I put them in the garden in a row and really cared for them, and moved them to their permanent places the next spring. That is one of my baddest memories of gardening...
The situation with your plum tree is of course different. My guess is that it was coons. They have this ability of knowing when something is RIPE, and attack then.....
Best of luck to all

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 7:07PM
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Now we know how God felt about Eve.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 12:21AM
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docjoc - Don't go there.

Jo - I would have a talk with the neighbor.

Last year my DIL was at a family reunion in Tennessee and someone asked a man about his garden. Seems his parents were both deceased and he had moved into the old home place and had planted a huge garden just as they always had done.

His answer was that he hadn't had one bite out of it yet. He said everytime he looked at something and thought he could pick it the next day, he would find that it was gone. One of his nieces overheard enough of the conversation to know that he was saying he wasn't getting anything from his garden this year. She chimed in and said, "Why you have had a beautiful garden this year, my family has eaten dozens of things from there." Seems Grandma had always let her pick what she wanted, so she had just continued. The urge to kill, huh?

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 2:20AM
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Jo, all I can say is that there is a reason everyone carries shotguns (deer rifles, turkey guns, assault weapons) down here in SE Oklahoma! ;)

Seriously though, I understand. We have a pear tree in our pasture that puts out lovely pears. We watch them grow and then when they're just about ready to pick--they're gone! Every last pear. It's not neighbors, cause we don't have any and no one can see our stuff from anywhere and we don't have friends. (We have a few, but they're not around here.) It's critters.

So pick stuff the day BEFORE you say you'll pick it. First you say "I'm going to pick my peaches on Friday." Then Wednesday evening, when your neighbor's are planning Thursday night's raid, you pick. Let it sit on the counter for a day and they'll be close enough. :)


    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 7:12AM
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joellenh(6b Jenks)

I could not believe my eyes when I glanced out the window this morning as dawn was breaking, and saw THIS:

Now, he is my prime suspect, but an internet search says "skunks don't climb trees".

My questions now are:

Is this the fruit thief?

and what do I do with him? Dave wants to trap him but I feel quite certain that would be incredibly stupid.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 7:40AM
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No, he's probably not the fruit thief. Raccoon is the most likely culprit, followed by humans; at least in my opinion. If he isn't doing too much digging or getting into poultry or garbage you might just leave him be.

I have successfully trapped skunks in a live trap (and been able to brag about not getting sprayed). The trick is to move in on them very slowly, with an old blanket. Hold the blanket out in front of you. Whenever the skunk raises his tail or starts to turn toward you, stop and wait for him to settle down. Eventually you will be able to lay that blanket over the trap. He won't spray while covered, not unless he's sure that he's about to die. The reason being, that skunks don't care to spray at an undefined target, and that blanket is not defined enough for him. With the blanket over the trap you can move the trap (gently) with little likelihood of the skunk spraying. What you do with the skunk is up to you.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 8:36AM
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joellenh(6b Jenks)

If he's not the thief I'd just as soon leave him. Let him eat some bugs for me. He's kind of cute, and isn't hurting anything.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 8:45AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Skunks are scavengers who'll eat whatever they can find, so it is unlikely this skunk is your fruit thief. Skunks will roam around your place and hunt for fruit on the ground, low-hanging veggies if they can get into the garden, or goodies from the compost pile. They reportedly can climb trees, but I've never seen it happen. They also dig in the soil for insects and often do similar damage to that done by the nine-banded armadillo.

Since you have small children and small dogs, I agree with your dad that the skunk needs to be trapped. Since skunks carry rabies, you can't afford to risk having one pop up out of nowhere and bite a child or a dog out in the yard.

Trapping is a touchy thing. The best way I know of is to slide the live trap inside a cheap trash can that is lying on its side. Bait the trap. Once you have a skunk in the trap, approach the trash can from an angle where the skunk cannot see you and slide the lid firmly onto the trash can. Carry the trash can to wherever you are going to 'release' the skunk, preferably as far from the house as is possible. We go at least 100 to 150 feet. How you release it is your choice. Most people here shoot them and then remove the dead skunk from the trap. If you release it alive anywhere near your property, it likely will return.

If you don't want to 'waste' a trash can on a skunk, you can just cover the trap with a tarp, but it isn't as 'airtight' as a trash can. My husband shoots them while they are still in the trash can (after that, you have a 'permanent' skunk trap trash can because you'll never want to use it as a trash can again). You also can shoot them without trapping them unless you're inside the city limits of a municipality that doesn't allow guns to be fired. On the bright side, if you're inside the city limits, you can call your city's Animal Control officer for advice. Some cities loan out traps and freely dispense advice. Others tell you that you're on your own. You also can hire professionals like The Skunk Whisperer to trap and remove pest animals.

Before attempting to remove a trapped skunk that is still in the trap, assemble a skunk kit and have it outside in case anyone gets skunked. Your skunk kit should include a bottle of Lemon Joy, a bottle (one large or a couple of small ones) of hydrogen peroxide and a box of baking soda. The recipe for the mix is roughly one quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 to 1/2 cup of baking soda, and a teaspoon or two of dishwashing detergent. If you or a pet gets skunked, you combine those ingredients in a bowl or bucket that is a part of your skunk kit and wash with them. What is important is that it is the INTERACTION between the baking soda and hydrogen peroxide that helps remove the skunky smell, so you can't mix them in advance. You mix them and use them immediately. The Lemon Joy (you only need a little of it) helps the hydrogen peroxide/baking soda mix stick to your skin and hair, or the dog's skin and hair, long enough for it to work its magic. You apply the mixure, let it sit on the skin and hair for a few minutes (longer on a really hairy dog, not as long on a person) and then rise it off with water from the water hose. Sometimes it takes several applications to make a real difference. As part of your skunk kit, have a couple of old towels, an old washcloth and a complete change of clothes handy OUTSIDE where you can get them, but not where a skunky smell can reach them. (I keep mine in a 5-gallon bucket with a tight lid.) After you've deskunked the person or dog, DO NOT bring the towels or clothing inside to wash. You can hang them as far from the house as possible to air out for a week or two before you bring them in to wash, or you can throw them away. If you bring them inside while they're still smelly, they'll stink up the house.

It is always better to be prepared in advance when trying to trap a skunk, because if you go inside the house carrying a skunky smell on your body or clothing, then your house will smell like skunk for weeks, and you'll be scrubbing walls, floors, cleaning curtains, etc. until you just want to cry.

We're in our 12th year here and we've only had one big skunk adult (not skunked), three children (two were skunked, the third was alternately laughing and screaming and then running for the house when the skunky aroma reached her eyes and started making them burn), and two dogs, one of which was skunked while the other one just stood there and watched like "I can't believe y'all are this stupid". How many skunks does it take to ruin a walk around the neighborhood with the dogs and the kids? In our case it was five skunks....mama and four babies. Like everything else garden-related, I've learned all this skunk stuff because I had to.

Good luck with the skunk, Jo, and remember that any skunk seen in daylight hours (except under extenuating circumstances like skunks fleeing a wildfire or torrential rainfall) is likely to be rabid and should never be approached. And, teach your kids skunks are not 'cute' and can hurt them. (I will admit that a mama skunk followed by a line of four small babies walking single file is pretty cute...but only from a distance.)


    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 8:56AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I said your dad, and I assume Dave is your spouse. Sorry.

I was typing my 'skunk book' while you and George were posting. We shoot any skunk we see in our yard rather than risk having a dog or cat or human bitten. It is, of course, your choice. We don't automatically shoot every skunk, as I'm pretty sure they visit us nightly. (They often leave behind their signature aroma.) We shoot the ones that persist in hanging around the yard where the animals and people hang out.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 9:00AM
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Just please don't release the skunk in our house. We've already had THAT particular excitement. I don't want it to happen again :)

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 10:04AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


How in the world did it get inside the house? Enquiring minds want to know, and I figure it's got to be a good story.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 11:34AM
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I am betting raccoon. That kind of fence would be perfect for climbing.

The tree is not an apricot. Their leaves are heart shaped. I would guess a nectarine.

I would not want a skunk anywhere near the house. They have been know to nest under foundations.........the smell is not pleasant. I know!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 11:59AM
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My husband moved to Grove a few months before I did, and I was just kind of going back and forth. During the hottest part of that summer, a skunk was under the house, and tore his way into the vent pipes that carry the air conditioned air. It was that heavy foil type stuff so he could make a hole in it. He did. He couldn't get back out and died there. My DH worked for the Boy Schouts and his office was at home, so he not only lived here, he worked here. He opened all the windows and I think turned on 6 ceiling fans until someone could come get the skunk out. He said it was horrible.

Needless to say, after we bought the house, I was quick to put a door on the crawl space and make sure that another animal could not get under the house. Then we had the heating and air folks come and replace all that vent system with something durable.

That summer, a neighbor who is now deceased, trapped 28 skunks. He trapped them, threw a blanket over the trap and with the trap on his trailer, backed it into the water. He said none of them could swim, especially with that cage on their back.

I know there are still a few around because I occasionally smell them. About a half mile from my house, I watched one come out of a culvert pipe and cross the road in daylight. Those scare me.

My tolerance level is low for skunks, possums, amardillos, Japanese Beetles, and Squash bugs. (And especially humans who steal) LOL

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 12:46PM
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joellenh(6b Jenks)

Kelley had a skunk crawl through her ductwork under the kitchen island.

(this was before she moved back home with her parents).

The house smelled like absolute hell, and Dave and I were like "Man, the P's house smells like SKUNK", but we didn't want to say anything and hurt their feelings.

Fortunately for everyone, a week or so later the P family discovered the skunk and had it trapped and re-located!


    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 12:58PM
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I wasn't going to go into detail about drowning skunks. But that's what we usually did. Now, my Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepherd think it's sport to catch and kill them. Don't know how they do it, but they kill them without getting sprayed.

Carol, if you ask, I can give you a good recipe for Skunk in Pipian Verde.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 2:05PM
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Just thought you might get a kick out of this picture, which I have on file.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 2:18PM
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joellenh(6b Jenks)

George, that HAS to be the cutest picture I have ever seen! Thank you!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 4:32PM
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Thanks George, but I will pass on that recipe.

The picture is cute tho.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 11:46PM
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Remember when de-scenting skunks was all the rage? Had a friend with a pet skunk...cute when they're little but never heard of one yet that didn't bite the hand that fed it at some point.

We smell the occasionally, and the dog's been skunked at least once, but here we've no real problem with them. They actually seem to have more of a problem with them in town than out here. Back in Missouri I had one take residence under my house. After she had her babies raised I waited until they left for the night and then closed up the hole. You don't want to close up the hole with anyone inside!


    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 8:19AM
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