Scotts critter protection plans for 2023

As you probably know I have been having problems with various animals: deer, squirrels, groundhogs, raccoons, crows, birds, bees, etc. This last year I got about 20% of my crop even after doing lots of fencing and trapping etc.

Here is my 2023 idea… to make 3-4 portable electric fences which I can move to the trees that are about to ripen fruits. Here is a sketch:

This picture shows the fence flat but the idea is to build it like this but then set it up completely encircling the trunk for about a 8’ or so diameter meaning the fence is something like 20’ long. The fence posts will be thin ones which are easy to move quickly. The fencing is standard plastic 8’ deer fence. The zapper is a solar-charged zapper so I don’t have to run wires. A battery one could also work. The solar zappers are pretty expensive, like $100 a pop, so my major concern is if I do several the cost will be pretty high. I was planning on making one prototype to start with.

For the birds I was going to make sure there was a wire right on the top of the fence, and also perhaps arc some stiff conducting rods over the top. All they need to do is try to land on it once and they won’t be coming back. The lower wires are for the squirrels, right up to the ground so they won’t try sneaking under it. The middle wire is for the deer and will be baited so they make sure to learn their lesson. The only thing it won’t protect from is the bees so I will still need to trap them.

I have never used an electric fence before so am not very familiar with it. I do know that a grounding rod is needed and that the wire needs to be attached to insulators (but not sure how much of that I need since the fence and poles are all non-conducting, no metal).

Comments, suggestions, criticisms please! I have tried about every other method so no need to mention to get an outside dog, fence whole property, etc etc, I have mulled over all the standard methods and need to try some new stuff. All crazy new ideas welcome!

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@scottfsmith

We use metal on all our fences and sometimes the deer still smash into them or smash the wire down. 6 foot Steel t posts can be modified for electric https://sandbaggy.com/products/t-post?variant=31254318514281&currency=USD&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=google+shopping&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIgvWxu4P3-wIVDzutBh3V0w-YEAQYASABEgIF8PD_BwE
Clip these on the posts when i need to use electric which is only around the garden area https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/american-farmworks-yellow-snap-on-5-in-extender-t-post-insulators . Then this is great wire https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/red-brand-galvanized-electric-fence-wire-14-gauge-2640-ft?cm_vc=-10005 . Your fence is mobile but imagine if you built it one section at a time effectively doing something similar. It’s cheaper to use these type of posts but they are less effective https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/steel-electric-fence-post-48-in?cm_vc=-10005. One thought is you put up a perimeter of steel tposts very far apart and run electric all the way around the outside improving it in coming years. Lets say you put your tposts 10 feet apart you could calculate cost. An acre is 43560 square feet / 10 = 4356 posts so it adds up quick. In your position i would go through alibaba. Your not likely fencing an acre so that is just what i made up as an example. https://m.alibaba.com/premium/t_post.html?src=sem_ggl&field=UG&from=sem_ggl&cmpgn=10787995094&adgrp=106495406379&fditm=&tgt=kwd-2053120596&locintrst=&locphyscl=1017651&mtchtyp=p&ntwrk=g&device=m&dvcmdl=&creative=455021168149&plcmnt=&plcmntcat=&aceid=&position=&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI4IK1h4f3-wIVh6XICh0zow4OEAAYASAAEgK8u_D_BwE

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This is the best idea ive seen as far as fencing. I have too many acres and too many plots to do this myself. The two fence idea that he calls Predator Pinball.

I met an old timer a few years ago that has the same situation as i do and he sprays chewing tobacco tea and has zero deer problems. I havent gotten around to trying it yet. His orchards and gardens are immaculate. He lives in the country like i do.

I have failed with human hair, milorganite, irish spring… and sometimes fail with my 6 foot fencing. Dogs have helped but i just have so much area to cover that they miss some at the wee hours of the morning.

I have 8 foot fencing on my private rare berry collection field… but dont want it everywhere…as it looks like a prison.

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I have difficulty dealing with weeds with just one layer of fence. That space in between looks like a blackberry and thistle haven. It would have to be only a couple of months and then detangling it from the weeds would be a big hassle.

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Standard root stocks with the limbs out of deer range. Then add squirrel baffles. Over power the birds with shear quantity. One foot rings of fence for buck rubs. This is the approach I have taken. With some exception, has worked well for me.

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@krismoriah

The heirloom blackberries my grandfather grew make an inpenetrable fence for free deer will not attempt to cross.

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@Robert

That is what i do in the outer orchard the standard pear trees are tall. The mulberry trees are target fruit to keep the birds busy.

Invest in a quality electric fence tester! Grabbing the fence to determine if it has a current is not advised. :grinning:

One the other hand, it is amazing how animals seem to always know if the fence has a current or not without touching. Supposedly sensing the current thru the moisture on their noses. If they sense a current the animals will shy away. If they do not sense a current, they will often do whatever they wish. Like just walk thru the fence. You will be surprised at how often you think the fence is hot when in reality it is not. Shortages do occur.

I grew up on a dairy farm (some fifty years ago) and we always had electric fences. Once my older brother and me was fooling around. I had rubber boots on. He did not. I touched the fence with a wet stick without getting shocked at all. He touched my ear with a finger and got the hell shocked out of him. Haha, revenge for the beatings he gave to me over the years.

Don’t underestimate the need for a great grounding rod. Better to have three. Tractor supply is where I got mine. Something like about 8 feet.

Also, I like having both a solar powered and an AC powered fence charger. Seems like my solar powered is less dependable than the AC. It is important to purchase the correct wattage for the length of fence.

Ask questions. Plenty to learn.

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Thanks for the links @clarkinks. I have some like those 6’ steel posts but they are heavy so will make it harder to carry around. I was thinking of using some flexible 1/2" fiberglass posts which are super light, like these… also pretty cheap. The deer push them around but not permanently and with a wire on them I think they will be a good deterrent. I did look into getting electric fence around the whole yard for the deer at least but in suburbia I don’t think it would go over too well … I sent out a couple probes to check and did not get good feedback. I am thinking that if I use full height deer fence on these as an added security measure plus allowing me to put an 8’ high wire to give the birds some zapping as well.

Re: weeds, I mulch under my trees. I still get some weeds in there but it is not too bad. I have maybe 20 trees fenced now, any small tree is fenced year-round now as otherwise it would be chewed and rubbed to bits.

@Robert like I said I have mulled over all the standard options. I have too many things they can jump from and to for the baffle idea to work. I am working on getting the trees higher, but deer can get fruit as high as 8’ and it is very hard to get a peach tree with all the peaches more than 8’ off the ground. I had several trees where the lowest fruit was maybe 6’ high that got stripped. Maybe one of these years I can baffle a few of the taller more isolated stands. It still won’t keep the crows away though, and they will strip me clean if I don’t go after them. Crows are skittish and I am hoping the fence all around the trees spook them a bit. I did better crow control this year by hanging a bunch of fake dead crows in the trees and moving them around. Plus yelling them away every time I heard them out there. Real chickens.

Thanks @tennessean advice much appreciated! I did notice the testers when shopping for the other parts. I don’t get the grounding aspect too well so will need to read up on that. the grounding posts can double as posts to hold the fence in place so I could easily put in several of them. I am a bit reluctant to get an AC one as running the wires is a pain, but it might be worth a go. There are also some DC battery ones that might be worth considering.

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@scottfsmith

Forgot about neighbors and mail men. Even in my area i raise eyebrows sometimes when i drop ship bees through the mail or a semi shows up. Hopefully you can use some of the information.

I see “homesteaders” often recommending Premier 1 fencing for livestock. But yikes, I didn’t realize how expensive it is… Electric Netting Kits - Premier1Supplies

Anyway, the 5’ tall one at 100’ long could make two circles of ~17’ and ~14’ diameter so perhaps around a “few” trees. Following the notion that deer can jump high, or far, but not both at the same time.

Not sure how effective this would be against those other critters mentioned though…

Keep in mind you are in a residential area. No matter how hard you try a kid is bound to wind up touching your fence. On top of that, if there is room the deer will jump it and the smaller critters will go through it. I was tempted by electric myself, but in the end electric fence is just better for cattle.

Someone else on here created a movable net structure that they could move from tree to tree as they were ripening. Have not tried it myself, but appears like it could work.

One final thought. If you have an HOA they may not be down with electric fence.

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Your prescription sounds right to me. Plus rabbit protection for the bottom. And achieve canopy above browse with semi-vigorous stock. Just takes a little longer.

For an electric fence to work the animal touching the hot wire must be grounded. A bird landing on a hot wire but not touching the ground or a ground wire won’t get shocked.

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Lot’s of info on Solar Electric Fencing in this thread: Solar Electric Fence Charger - General Fruit Growing - Growing Fruit You don’t need a system this extensive, but it will give you some good info on how the systems work.

I think in the video he means that for ‘training’ So whatever predators and critters get pinballed they never ever want near it again… I dont think its meant for long term. Probably if it were me i would put it around things i know that would get hit hard …maybe even throw some fruit in the middle to entince… then scar them for life psychologically.

I am thinking what i would like in my situation is some kind of solar powered motion light with some wolf noises or something that i could place in certain locations. Not sure if such thing exists but i would buy some. Like a strobing light and something frightening as far as noise.

We picked up some fiberglass posts, and I will never repeat that. UV damages them, then they shed fiberglass shreds into your hands. If you go that route, wear gloves!

Btw, the ones I got were supposedly UV resistant as well.

Deer are scared of motion. If those little automatic electric lawn mowers were cheaper it might work. Take the blade off. Program the path. Tape a stuffed dog on top and let it run all night. It will return to it’s charging station and return the next night on it’s own. You could even use a dog house for the charging station.

Just joking, but who knows it might work.

Here is a legitimate idea. Make some good size light weight panel frames. Put net over them. Tie panels together in a sort of an accordian of panels. Then just take your panels and create a box where and when you need it around a tree. Support if needed. When done the panels fold and stack thinly on top of each other taking little space.

Have any of you tried those flashing lights that are meant to scare of deer? I know that having a bunch of lights flashing would be annoying, unless it’s far enough from the house. Just wondering if anyone had tried it.