November 24, 2012

Fall Foraging

Beautiful autumn weather seems to be meant for foraging.

Good pecans this year

I've gathered quite a few pecans, and so far they're all good ones.

Shelling pecans for Thanksgiving's sweet potato casserole

We have a number of pecan and hickory trees, and interestingly, they all produce different size nuts. The squirrels love pecans too, so there is competition for these.

Only a few persimmons left on the upper branches

There is competition for persimmons too, because deer and possums love these, probably other critters too. Our persimmon tree is tall, so the fruits look like dots on the branches. I can only collect the ones that fall to the ground. I can see the top of the tree from where I sit at the milking stand. It is visible out the door and above the treetops. I managed to get some last year, but this year, there isn't much left.

We are having a bumper crop of acorns!


These are from white oaks. In some places, the ground is completely covered with them. I collect them to feed to my goats when the winter forage pickings get slim. They aren't especially rich in protein, but they do add roughage, carbohydrates, and fats to their winter diet, and they love them. We could eat them as well, though I haven't tried that yet. (For more information on processing acorns, read Jackie Clay's article, "Harvesting The Wild: Acorns").

I've also managed to collect a few wild rose hips.

Wild rose hips

I showed you my rugosa rose hips in my "Last of the Summer Harvest" post. These are teeny in comparison; all seed and no fruit. I tried making jelly of these, but it turned out pretty badly. That's one of the reasons I planted the rugosas. Plus those hips are easier to collect.

The goats love the wild ones though, both leaves and hips. We used to have tons of wild rose bushes before we got goats. Most of our bushes were cut back when we added fencing. What remains the goats eat. Only a few are out of their reach and these are from those bushes. I gather what hips I can, to dry and feed to them during winter for vitamin C.

Some things, like the acorns especially, may seem a tedious thing to gather. But a pocketful here, and a pocketful there, make for a pleasant way to take a break from other chores, or to spend a few minutes outside when I'm doing indoor projects. It reminds me to be thankful too, for all the little things. Acorns included.

Fall Foraging © November 2012 


Doyu Shonin said...

I am envious of those pecans! ^_^

Florida Farm Girl said...

Want the acorns from my house??? There'd be enough to keep your goats fat and happy all through the winter.

Farmer Barb said...

Being goatless, the wild rose here and the acorns make fine fodder for the deer. All these tips you are giving us are being tucked away. My oaks are huge and will be looked at as a food source for my future herd!

Carolyn said...

We have plenty of acorns and I try to collect them for the goats or just tie them out near one of the oaks for a snack. I wish we had a pig or two to fence in with the oaks when the acorns fall to fatten them up that way. I'm also insanely jealous of your pecan trees! There are a handful of smaller persimmon trees in the goat pen and the fruits get gobbled up by the goats before I can get them, but the ones outside the pen I've been saving, pulping and putting in the freezer for persimmon bread.
You made quite a haul with all that wild & free food!

Leigh said...

Risa, I feel very fortunate for those! Are there not some varieties that will grow in the northwest?

FFG, you too?!?!? ;)

Barb, oh yes, your future goats will love both. And, as Carolyn Renee mentions, pigs love acorns too.

Carolyn, I think about those pigs too! I've got places I can collect acorns with a broom and dust pan! I probably will do just that, come spring and we get our pigs.

The Cranky said...

I can't wait to get back out into the country where I can gather wild foods again!

Renee Nefe said...

I am envious of those pecans too. When I lived in the south we would go an collect them. Yum
Now I get to buy them at the stores so I get them shelled.

Oak trees don't grow very well much so that when my sister in law was visiting my mom she didn't know that acorns were from oak trees.

CaliforniaGrammy said...

So much for which to be thankful growing wild on your land. I found it fascinating about the goats loving the acorns. That's something I've got to let my daughter know about. We have ooodles of acorns from many oaks, both black and golden, growing on our four acres. And she has five goats to feed. Seems we should get together!

benita said...

My maternal grandfather and I used to race the squirrels to the hickory nuts each fall. He and I would spend the better part of a lovely fall day with the little red wagon, a bushel basket and just the two of us wandering over the hillside where the hickory tress were the easiest to reach. Then he and I would spend several evenings cracking our finds... Goodness I miss that. He would tell stories of the past and I would ask lots of questions. Precious time together.

Leigh said...

Jacqueline, there is so much there for the picking. We had muscadines too, our first year, but much was cleared out after we got goats.

Renee, it's interesting where certain trees will grow. Makes for interesting travel, that's for sure.

Janice, offer some to her goats and see what they think! I understand that black oak acorns contain more tannin, but goat's don't seem to care about that as much as humans do. It's a great resource for a little extra to feed the goats.

Benita, precious indeed, what wonderful memories! I think one of our trees is actually a hickory, It has skinnier nuts and shaggier bark. They're still delicious though.

Woolly Bits said...

no pecans, no persimmons, no acorns - but I have to say my rosehip pickings top yours by far:) I wouldn't even contemplate doing anything jamwise with yours. but I didn't know that goats like them! might be a better use for those tiny things... give the rugosas a few years, I am sure they'll provide more after a while...
still, I am with you on collecting stuff - it gives satisfaction, even if you can't eat it yourself.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

around here, there's not a lot of nuts nor apples...I'm fearful for the deer, the ones that survive hunting season.
Happy Thanksgiving, Leigh; hope it was wonderful.

Leigh said...

Bettina, the jelly was terrible! So I'm glad the goats will eat them (with the added satisfaction that they're good for them). I daresay your foraging times are vastly different, considering you're halfway around the world. :)

Sandra, well, to be honest I wouldn't mind having venison for our freezer. We've had deer on our property ever since we moved here. Unfortunately they help themselves to my beets, my sweet potato vines, my buckwheat. Hunting just for the sport of killing something however, does not appeal at all.

DebbieB said...

You brought back a very pleasant memory of my dad, who's been gone 14 years now, using that very same nutcracker to crack the pecans from his little tree while he watched tv. :)

Unknown said...

Oh I LOVE pecans! They're so expensive, you could always sell them. $15.00 a bag at costco :( I read somewhere you can make flour out of ground acorns...

Sue said...

Love seeing all the goodies you can harvest, even when it makes me jealous.

The first year we lived in our house in Florida (many, many years ago), a package got delivered to our house by mistake. None of the neighbors recognized the name on the package, and there was no return address, no note, nothing. It contained 20 pounds of shelled pecans, which I managed to make use of rather than tossing the box. Have to buy them at the store now, so I don't use them as much (and couldn't afford to use them as goat food!)

Leigh said...

Debbie, that would be a wonderful memory indeed. Interesting how things like that, personal time spent, are the memories we treasure.

Nancy, I feel very fortunate for those pecans! I plan to try the acorn meal. Might as well since we have so many. The link I gave in the post has pretty good directions.

Sue, it's hard not to envy what others find readily. That's an amazing story about your pecans. I'm too stingy to feed them to my goats, but they will eat green ones, the bits that the squirrels toss to the ground.

Susan said...

Such good information! We had a bumper crop of acorns last year, but this year it's slim pickings. No pecans :( and no persimmons :(( but there are a ton of wild grapes. Unfortunately, the vines are WAY up in the trees. I have to devise a way to get them down.

Rosalyn said...

I just love, love, love your blog. I have completely neglected my own since early August as I've been so busy since heading back to university and juggling kids, home, school work, cooking, preserving, etc... but when I have a minute to myself I so enjoy reading yours. I will have to look into whether or not red oak acorns are safe for goats, we don't have white oak up here. :) BTW your kitchen is gorgeous!!

Donna OShaughnessy said...

We have no pecans, or walnuts and so I lust after to speak. Mostly love your work ethic Leigh. You make me feel a little less driven than I am :)