Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Nuts, Bugs, and Other Wildlife

It's fall in the country. And in the fall, a dyer's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of...nuts.

No, not that kind.

This kind.

What with a few windy days, the butternuts and black walnuts have been falling en masse, and I'm happy that coincided with my vacation week at the farm. We've got two wheelbarrow-fuls of butternuts picked up, and I spent one morning picking up four large pots of black walnuts and hulling them. The hulls are spread out on screens to dry, and the nuts are dumped in a pile for the squirrels, since I don't consider the flavor worth the effort of cracking them.

A fifth pot got picked up and hulled today (part of what fell since the last haul), and resulted in three skeins of yarn in a colour like dark chocolate.

Hanging out in the field where I was cracking walnuts, I found a little brown frog, and Mom found a few praying mantises. Don't usually see them, but they seem to like her new hosta patch.

Harvest time here also means the apples are ripening - domestic and semi-wild. There are some random trees on the lane with fruit that taste like russet apples, some with big yellow fruit behind the house that may be the remnants of an old orchard, and little, glossy crimson crabapples that make a nice jelly.

And the squash! Pro tip, dudes. Plant your squash in the compost pile. There was an accidental one coming up there this spring, so Mom left went wild and was super-healthy, took over a chunk of the field, and produced 33 squash.

Beside the harvest, there's been lots of wildlife excitement. It's tick season, so we've been checking the dog and cats daily. Record so far is Abby, who brought home three at a time. She was also behind a little fracas this morning. She brought a mouse home (which was still alive), and let herself into the house. She wanted to play with it before eating it, I guess, but the dog thought maybe it was for him, scared Abby, and the mouse ran away and hid. The dog tried to get at it (we're not sure whether a wet spot there was dog drool, or the mouse wetting himself in fear), but it escaped and is presumably at large in the house. Maybe he'll join the ones I heard in the walls last night!

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