What good is an apple tree if you don’t pick the fruit?

It all started with the apple tree.

I know, everything did start with an apple tree — well, not literally because we don’t know whether it was an apple or some other type of fruit that Eve ate in the Garden of Eden.

But I digress. This story starts with an apple tree.

An apple tree planted many years ago by one of our long-gone neighbors.

An apple tree that, despite our present neighbor’s inattention — no watering, no spraying, nothing — inexplicably has produced a bumper crop this year.


Don't they look tempting?

Don’t they look tempting?

Now because of my neighbor’s lack of desire to eat these apples, the fruit drops onto our side of the fence.

Where it becomes a smorgasbord for varmint suffering through yet another season of drought.

Apples on the ground, some with worm holes

Apples on the ground, some with worm holes

The other day as I was glancing out the back window, something lumbered diagonally across the yard.

Something kind of black. Or grey. With beady eyes and a tail.

I wasn’t fast enough to get a picture of him, but here’s kind of what he looked like:

Thanks to Thinkstock for this image

Thanks to Thinkstock for this image

A raccoon.

Not the cute little bandit-type with a mask and a grin, either.

Darling Doggie Dallas insisted on checking it out.

Fearing that “Ricky” might be rabid, I waited until he was mostly out of sight before turning Triple-D loose.

The Sheltie raced around the yard, nose to earth, finally chasing “Ricky” underneath the storage shed.

My first inclination was to grab my gun and blow that critter to smithereens. Don’t judge — I spent many years in Texas and have no problem shooting an interloper.

My second, more rational, idea was to call an expert.

I learned that, as long as the apples are around, “Ricky” will be, too. That unless I want to buy a tin of moistened cat food and lace it with poison (chancing that my dog or the neighbor’s cats or some poor unsuspecting squirrel or bird will get hold of it), there’s little else to do but wait him out.

Oh, sure, an “expert” can bring a trap, catch “Ricky,” and turn him loose somewhere else, but “Ricky” might very well be “Rachel” and have a bucket-load of babies. After all, they don’t wear signs denoting gender and frankly, they all look the same to me.

But back to the apple tree.

My neighbor doesn’t seem to want the fruit. Nor do we.

So I see one obvious solution to this problem.

Chop down the apple tree.

Sadly, I’m not as proficient with an axe as I am with a gun!

20 thoughts on “What good is an apple tree if you don’t pick the fruit?

  1. Ok, I might have a better suggestion than guns, axes and poison. Keep in mind if you shoot the coon you are going to have to dispose of the body. Why not, see if a girl scout troop or a church youth group might be willing to pick the apples. Call the girl scout main office and see if there is a troop within a few miles from you. Maybe they will pick them to cook with or for a little cash and good Karma. Next tell your neighbor you happen to know of someone willing to take care of picking the apples from the tree and spare you both the awful, horrible, disease, damage raccoons, bless their heart, can cause. If money is involved offer to split it the cost (hey, poison, vet bills, amnio, traps, body disposal, axes cost money). Of-course, it is their tree, but the problem is on your side of the fence, and they clearly don’t care so I would do the leg work and split the cost. Plus, its hell to be on bad terms with neighbors. A simpler way to do it is to place an ad on craigslist and pay offer $50.00 to clear the tree . I use Craigslist all the time and my few problems have been minor. And my final suggestion is a Coon Dog companion for Dallas.

    • LOL at your final suggestion! I can see them now, Coon Dog chasing the varmint and Dallas herding BOTH of them into a corner!!
      Seriously, this sounds reasonable to me. I know raccoons can be mean if cornered — they’ve got teeth and claws, for Pete’s sake! What I didn’t know was that a Girl Scout troop might be willing to pick the apples and haul them off as a good deeds sort of thing. And you’re so right about being on bad terms with neighbors. We have to live in somewhat close proximity, and the least we can do is try to get along!
      I’ve never used Craigslist. This sounds like a perfect time to give it a go — thanks for the information!

  2. The first commenter had some good suggestions. (Better than my passive-aggressive solution to lob the rotten fruit over the fence into their yard!) In addition to Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts might help (their motto is ‘do a good turn daily’) or maybe even a church or a charity that feeds the hungry.

    In Arizona, rotting citrus fruit attracts roof rats. Once someone in the neighborhood lets a tree go, the rat families move in and nobody is happy. Talk about peer pressure to keep your yard up! My parents ended up cutting down a lemon tree and manage to get the grandkids to pick grapefruit and tangerines. It’s not child labor if they’re having fun, is it? 🙂

    • Roof rats? Yuck, I never heard of such critters! Yes, it would be nice to apply a little friendly nudge to get them to take this tree down, especially since the apples just fall to the ground and rot. Where they attract raccoons and even possums!

      Child labor? No way! If the kids enjoy it, I’d call it “enrichment.” Or training in responsibility.

      We used to have a small peach tree, but it only produced tiny, hard fruit and eventually succumbed to the axe!

  3. Well, I’m at a total loss of a suggestion, because if I was the owner of that apple tree, I would eat them as fast as the dropped off. I’m a HUGE apple lover. In fact, it’s my favorite fruit. And if I couldn’t eat all the apples, I would start baking them into my favorite pie – APPLE!

    Loved your first commenters suggestion about calling the Girl Scouts!!! I truly hate to see food wasted, so perhaps they could distribute them to homeless shelters or food banks.

    And in all honesty, your neighbor should be taking care of this.

    Have a faaaaaaabulous weekend, Debbie!


    • I love apples, too, Ron, but I’m not fond of wormy apples and that’s what my neighbor has. Probably the result of not spraying or tending what could be a delightful specimen!
      I suppose it’s like anything else — you’ve got to take care of things or they become an eyesore. It’s so sad to see all those wormy apples just lying on the ground. Sure, the squirrels carry them off, but there are FAR more apples than squirrels, it seems.
      Thanks for stopping by and right back at ya for a glorious weekend!

  4. My husband is from LA his family had a lemon tree outside. He went to pick some lemons one day and his mother freaked out and his sister said… those lemons are from outside we don’t eat them…

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  6. From your description (beady eyes, pointed nose, no mask) I’m thinking you encountered a big possum instead of a raccoon. The color can be identical, and possums look remarkably like the photo you posted. They lumber, too, and they LOVE fruit. They’ll climb trees to get persimmons and pears, so why not apples?

    If it were my situation, I’d be gathering up those apples as fast as I could and pressing them for cider if they’re not good for pie and such because of blemishes and critters. Do I know how to press apples? Well, no. Could I find a press? Probably, because there are wine-makers around.

    Another solution is to do what folks around here do: put a sign out front that says “Apples! Thisaway! Bags provided”. Then, put a few plastic grocery bags in a box and voila! problem solved!

    • A possum?? Well, maybe. I thought his tail looked more fluffy than whip-like, so I pegged him as a raccoon. Whatever he is, he doesn’t belong in my back yard!
      Good info here, Linda. Thank you! I like the idea of collecting the apples, putting them in bags, and advertising them. Whether any money changes hands at this point is moot. The advantage to that suggestion is that ridding our yards of unwanted apples would send the varmints away, too!

  7. I like the Craigslist idea. Definitely a good one. I feel bad for the apples. They didn’t mean any harm by growing there and they’re so good to eat. I can see making apple pies, apple jam, baked apples, and finally, apple cider. It’s a treasure trove of autumn goodness. I’d be terrified to have a gun in the house, btw. Anyway, good luck!

    • Of course it’s illegal to fire a gun within city limits, so that wouldn’t be a very practical “solution”! I feel kind of bad for the apples, too. If he’d only spent a little time spraying and tending this tree, he’d have apples to share with ALL the neighbors (and what good PR that would be, considering as how most of us have to pay good money for store-bought or farmer’s market specimens). Thanks for stopping in.

  8. I would LOVE to have home grown apples! But I can see where the crop could get overwhelming. Sadly, I have no advice for keeping the hungry varmint at bay. Racoons aren’t easily scared off, I know. I had one in my garage once and getting him to leave was quite an event. Good luck with this one.

    • Thanks, Terri. I’ve been slowing picking up the fallen apples and disposing of them. Sadly, they’re full of worm holes and not fit for human consumption. I’m pretty sure they’d have turned out better if the tree had been sprayed and cared for. What a waste!

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