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More Tales of Summer 2022 - Possums in trees

Lemon tree popular with possums.

At our farm in Pigeon Bay, Banks Peninsula, our neighbours seem to be complaining a lot about possums this summer. 

They are active in the dark hours so you don’t necessarily see them, unless you are on a possum shoot or out late enjoying the night sky. However, you can tell the next morning, they have visited.

Possums climb up lemon trees to strip peel.

 Possums smash and grab lemons. 

Crushed plants, broken branches of rose bushes, nibble greens in the vegetable plot, and at Inveralloch they strip the peel of lemons on the tree or knock them to the ground to eat.

With the extended Auckland lockdown, we were unable to travel south to the farm until mid-December. I could not believe the sight of ALL our roses, eaten to their bare branches, no new shoots, absolutely no blooms, just mangled, damaged bushes.

I talked with my neighbours to check if it was just us and was told that this was a common story. Someone had put out poison and the next day found 100 corpses and another told the tale of shooting 30 possums one night and a few days later getting another 30. They are everywhere.

Possums attack young rose shoots.

We have set traps in the past that entice the possum by hanging a piece of fruit inside the trap. Once caught, you need to shoot them. This is not my specialty and there are no longer have guns on the property. Over summer however, there are lots of friendly farming neighbours around who we can call over to do the honors of dealing with the trapped possum.

This summer we opted for poison, laid in a container near the lemon trees. This was emptied each night and on some mornings, we found the container had been pushed across the lawn in a possum feeding frenzy. The good news is that it worked (for a while) and our lemons stopped being stripped (for a while). But the poison will run out in our absence.

Before I left to return to Auckland, I diligently picked 10kg of lemons, packed in my luggage for our students to use. I was not going to leave this bounty for the next possum attack.

Celia Hay 1/2/22

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Celia Hay

Celia is a qualified chef and holds the WSET (London) Diploma of Wine. She has a Bachelor of Arts in History, Master of Education (Distinction) and MBA Master of Business Administration from the University of Canterbury.

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The School

Founded by Celia Hay, the New Zealand School of Food and Wine opened its first campus in Christchurch in 1995.

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