Gettin Squirrelly

I noticed something different this fall. We are surrounded by Black Walnut trees on our little section of prairie, and it gave me pause to think I had not stumbled on a walnut yet this year.

… a person not able to make good squirrel gravy is likely to be friendless, unmarried and generally looked down upon …

This kind of thing slips up on you quiet like. Since we’ve been here, the Black Walnut trees have always had lots and lots of nuts. So much so, it was a real pain walking around, and trying hard not to break your ankle because you were stepping on all these hard little balls.

And talk about squirrel pollution. They were thick, lazy and a bit belligerent with all the food lying around. I think they used the water trough for the horses as much or more than the horses did. And quite often, in the winter, one or two of the idiots would find a way to drown themselves because they suck at thinking about cause and effect, and not having opposable thumbs, but mostly sucked at thinking. I had to set up a wire mesh going down into the water for the idiots to drink safely. Of course, the horses thought this was great fun, picking it up and waving it around, then dropping it someplace other than where it is supposed to be and then, more floating, fuzzy popsicles.

When talking squirrel, my darling wife’s lip curls, just a bit. She had a negative tree rat experience, back when she was a young pup and forever after, is not enthusiastic about the subject. She loves venison, pheasant, wild turkey and all, but it’s been a tough sell on the little beasties that chitter at us and drive the dog nuts. I on the other hand, belonged to a big game hunters club, back in the glorious ’80s and have eaten everything from alligator to zebra. Can’t recommend walrus, but loved grizzly bear and mountain lion. Yes, the big kitties are seriously good eats. Cry if you want to, but quite often, in the areas they inhabit, you have been eyeballed as possible stinky food, while you blithely think Walt Disney thoughts while wandering around and staring at your phone. Anything that wants a piece of me gets put on the menu, at least once.

So, I suddenly noticed that this year, no nuts. Wow. I checked the whole surrounding area and no walnuts. I have been reading about cycles in life, lately. In the arboreal North woods, things like the snowshoe hare and lynx,  and how they are codependent on each other. The hare will boom with lots of browse to eat and the lynx will boom the next year. In heavy snow or lack of browse, the hare has to move into less covered areas and gets lots of invites for dinner. The population falls and then crashes. The lynx take about another 2 years and their numbers crash. The whole thing shakes out to a 4 to 6 year cycle, from boom to bust and back again. Caribou, whose numbers are down right now, are thought to have a 40 year cycle. And, hold your ears if you can’t bear the thought of it, none of this has anything to do with the snake oil of “Climate Change.” I know, heresy, but all of this has been going down, way way before some goofs tried to corner the market on stupid. The sun is what makes the whole deal work. When the sun is crankin, it’s all sweetness and Coppertone SPF 30. When the sun goes to sleep, we get summers that have frost every month. You may have heard the old timey saying “1800 and froze to death.” If not, you were not paying attention to history class. Expect that to be heard again if the sun keeps on its expected cycle. 20 whatever and froze to death. Everything old, is new again.

It takes 8.4 minutes for sunlight to get here from the sun. The silliness of man made global warming can be explained such as this. Bad evil humans have borked up the environment and despite the best efforts of the EPA and Green Peace and maybe even PETA and the Girl Scouts, the polar bears have got that one little tear in their eye and think sad thoughts. They are floating around because the ocean has expanded and there is no place decent to have a seal sandwich. The earth is sweltering, the ice is all gone, even in those twice the ice for half the price kiosks. It’s awful and hot.

But what if suddenly the Sun says “You mean rotten people are so mean and rotten, I am just going to say good night Irene and call it a day. Hasta la vista dudes” and he turns out the lights. In 8.4 minutes the whole world goes dark. In 8.43787 minutes, it gets cold, very very cold. Our evil man made global warming gave us the .3787 of a second of respite and now we are hosed for good and for real. The sun makes or breaks us. We are just along for the ride. Can we screw things up? Sure, we are humans. Have we screwed up the weather? Nope not yet, just messed with the data and are continuing to do so for fun and profit.

Whew, got that off my chest. Where was I? Squirrels, yeah squirrels. Got to thinking that maybe squirrel should be on the menu. Do them a favor and eat them, before they starve. I am sure they don’t see it quite like that, but as I said before, they don’t do cause and effect. It’d be a mercy and good to eat.

Squirrel-door-bellSo having convinced the Mrs, provisionally, I went to huntin’ the varmints. I put a corn feeder in our back yard. Squirrels eat just about any seed or nut and I like my varmints corn fed. I could see this feeder from my kitchen chair and I thought of it like a visual door bell. It would just show me who was coming for dinner. Not sporting at all, but I am hunting for meat and if they are eating my corn, they are now a pest and in the soup pot for them.

I popped one and it had been a while since I skinned anything so small. Got it done, took bit longer than I thought it should, but it was kitchen ready. I walked up to the house and since my hands were squirrelly, I yelled for the Mrs to come open the door for me. I stood there a bit and called out again and heard her come rushing down the steps, and next thing you know she arrived to open the door with nothing on but a smile. I smiled to myself thinking this squirrel hunting is a whole lot more fun than I first thought.

As the wife, now fully clothed (she said she had been upstairs changing when I yelled for her) put the squirrel in the buttermilk, I perused the internets, looking at squirrel skinning videos. Yup, I did it backwards, still worked, but wanted another go at it. Would you look at that, a tree rat at the door bell, ‘scuse me while I get my boom stick. Boom. Another try at skinning and this time, lickety split in a quarter of the time and no hair on the carcass. I did not get a repeat on the door answering but I thought maybe it was a one a day type thing like vitamins. I could try again tomorrow.

We bathed our dinner guests in buttermilk and seasonings overnight. I could tell the Mrs was keeping a Cooking-squirrelfirm upper lip. The next morning, she dredged them in flour and other good stuff and popped them in my Mom’s old electric frying pan. These were adult squirrels and needed a long slow braise to make them tender. We gave them about 2 and half hours and they looked and smelled delicious.

Plated-squirrelShe plated up, and had made some olive relish to add a special something to the meal. Like squirrel wasn’t special enough on its own. Took my first bite and oh boy, that was good. Waited for the Mrs to toss a lip over hers and she finally declared it good. Whew! I ate and ate until I could not eat anymore. Still had a bit left and that’s going to be thrown in eggs for breakfast. Yeah baby!

So, to reflect on what we learned so far; squirrels are good eatin, old memories should not rule your life, the sun makes happy, people will try to sell snake oil and lie to you when you call them on it, trying something new is good and sometimes when you ask to be let in, you get more than you thought you would. Big smile at the memory. Get out there and hunt some varmints. They’s good and good for you.