GROW: The Book
This is a cute video but also makes you think about what you would do if a critter were eating your garden!
Generally speaking, I treat many garden pests as a bonus source of food - rabbits, squirrels, groundhogs, snails, deer (in season, of course, Mr. Warden), racoons, possums, certain birds... they snack around the edges… and my garden provides not only veggies, but meat as well! Beyond that, moles and mice may not feed me, but they will a flock of guineas.
@judsoncarroll4 I always wonder if people are concerned about rabies when they eat certain animals, like raccoons (actually, I didn't even know people ate raccoons). Did you know that they can be contagious but not show signs 3 days before it is obvious that something is wrong? We learned this last year when we were dealing with the aftermath of a rabid skunk & a quarantine.
In our area, foxes, skunks, & raccoons are the most common carriers. In Ontario, raccoons & bats are the top carriers.
What do possum & raccoon even taste like?
@Laurie It isn't too hard to tell is an animal is sick, judging behavior, fur, etc, but when you gut it you can check the liver. A clean, healthy liver generally means a healthy animal. Also, make sure there are no internal parasite/worms, infections, etc. Thorough cooking is another safeguard. The taste of raccoon and possum depends A LOT on what they have been eating. If their main source of food comes from neighborhood garbage cans... you'll know it! If they live in the woods, with clean water and food, they can be quite good. Plenty of people swear they will never eat a possum, because they have seen them eating road kill or dead livestock.... but, really their diet is pretty much identical to that of free ranging chickens... opportunistic omnivores. If the weather is cold and that possum has been feeding on frost sweetened persimmons or apples for a few weeks, it will be delicious if handled property in the field and cooked properly. Oven roasted with onions and sweet potatoes is a great option…. the taste is somewhere between pork and rabbit. Raccoons are basically little bears. Their meat is like a cross between beef and pork. Coon cooked low and slow... barbecued.. over hardwood coals is fantastic. In either case, your nose tells you how to prepare them. If the fat has any gamey smell (and it often does), trim as much as you can off, If it smells clean, cook as you please. Some people par boil to remove more fat, usually with some vinegar in the water. Different cultures eat different things - coyote is popular among many native peoples, the Brits once thought fox was a delicacy and I have friends who swear that bobcat meat is the best game meat of all.... I even have a couple of recipes for skunk... but I haven't tried it!
@judsoncarroll4 wow! Such great advice on cooking these “unusual/pest” meats! I would have never thought so much about the details of cooking any meat. (Can you tell I was raised from the grocery store😉)
Years ago my mom moved into an old Arkansas farm house, and in the barn, under the corn crib, she found a chicken wire cage. She asked the old homeowner about it.
He said, and I quote, "When we got hungry for 'possum, we could catch an old mama with her babies, and throw them in there. We fed them good kitchen scraps and took care of them until they were big enough to eat. That way we had 'possum whenever we wanted one, and they tasted good because we had fed them good."
@Mary Linda Bittle - the things to read at TGN, lol - We have a couple of those cages, - but I am way too scared to get rabies.
@judsoncarroll4 - You are another candidate for the Clone-machine, lol - Honest engine, if every neighborhood had 1 of you, hunger could be vastly eliminated. You are such a wealth of Information... Thank you !
@Laurie I’ve eaten barbecue raccoon and it was very delicious
That is the way the older folks did things in the mountains, where I grew up. They usually kept a "possum pit" in the backyard.
@rainbow I'm not one to make grandiose statements... but... that is actually what I am working on. When I got into Permaculture a few years ago, it was like a seed crystal... suddenly all the seemingly disparate things I had been learning about for decades began to organize themselves in my mind. I am working on designs that would literally, in a step by step and very practical/do-able way, provide working models that could end homelessness, poverty, environmental degradation and hunger. The caveat is, "should people choose". This would be a private property model - owner built homes, self sufficient food production, water storage, heat and energy production. Although it would cost less than $10,000 for a family of up to 6 to do so..... and the land use is such that the entire population of the united states to fit into the state of Texas, only using 1/3rd of available acreage (not advocating everyone moving to TX, just giving the landmass as an example of efficient space utilization) …. most people will not take the initiative to do it. Human nature is dictated in part by the Normalcy Bias and general laziness.... most people would rather be poor, hungry and miserable than take small steps to help themselves.... especially if they can blame others. Oh, and my designs are fire-proof, earthquake-proof, hurricane and flood-proof... and all human waste is processed on site - no need for sewers and water treatment plants. Little need for government services at all, really... which basically ensures they will not pass codes and be approved in most places… but still, I think it valuable. The designs are made. Now, I just have to build it all out in a test site, work out the flaws, and show that it can be done.
@judsoncarroll4 Wow! Sounds like a really great project! I think it's possible @Marjory Wildcraft might have an interest in featuring it in one of her summits. Just a thought 🤔
Ah, you guys are brave. I might eat raccoon..I don't know. Beaver tail is supposed to be excellent & I actually have a book on cooking certain wild caught critters. I want to try snake. bear is sounding more interesting. A rodent, not so sure. We have fox squirrels sometimes, but I don't know if I could eat one. We don't have possum.
I knew that the rabies is killed with the right amount of heat, but if it was rabid and I was handling the raw meat and cutting nerves...I just have this fear, you know?
I know that you can tell a sick animal if you look for signs. BUT with rabies, it's incubation time is about 7 days, if I am remembering correctly there is no danger within that time, but it can be contagious before any actual signs at all might show for 3 days after that. This is what gets me the most. They will appear perfectly fine.
As far as a skunk, we found this interesting. They can contract rabies, go through breeding & birthing before they succumb and those many babies are born with rabies. This is why they are so bad in this regard.
Anyway, I am so very off topic...
I found my book. I will share a few recipes in another thread.
@Laurie In my experience, an the consensus of my professional trapper friends, beaver tail is really just a good source of fat. I think folks used to value it because they needed fat in their diet and prized all animal fat. Beaver meat though is excellent. It is a red meat, like beef, but far better. Beaver may actually be the best meat of all. My trapper friends absolutely love nutria, muskrat, armadillo (which yes, can carry bubonic plague but is very a very popular meat in Mexico, Texas and parts of Florida) and even iguana. I look forward to trying all of the above. If I could trap for a living, I would eat like a king! I have eaten snake though - it is very lean, dry and tough if over cooked. But, it is good just quick fried or grilled hot and fast. My favorite meat of all is snapping turtle....and I'm a frog leg fanatic! Squirrel is a staple in my kitchen.
@judsoncarroll4 Armadillo can carry that? I know prairie dogs can carry bubonic plague. The only armadillo that I ever almost met was in OK and already road kill. I was kind of bummed by that. It was my first (and last) sighting ever.
Leopard frogs & snapping turtles are protected here. Can't eat 'em. I always wondered how one could eat frog legs until I saw the size of those! Before that, I only saw (and played with) little frogs.
My daughter, who will try anything, says you sound cool and she wants to try everything you mentioned. I guess I did try to raise the kids to not be fussy and to try new things. Some now have me beat, I guess!
@Laurie I think the chances are really slim that any coon caught would have just been exposed to rabies, and not yet showing signs. Honestly, I feel a lot safer with wild game than say... a chicken from the grocery store. But, if you were really concerned, and no laws prevent it where you live, you could use live traps and pen it up for a week, feeding it a diet of good food and clean water. Our bullfrogs are massive, with as much meat on their hind legs as chicken thighs, and common snapping turtles are both plentiful and a nuisance animal here, so we get to eat most of the bounty of the earth. Of course, we don't have moose or elk like up north, or those little pig-like critters they have in Texas... so, I'm jealous of that... and nowhere near the abundance they have in the bayous of Louisiana... but, we have a lot. Oh, and bear meat is excellent... but only if handled properly. Most people who say they don't like bear have only had one that was killed in weather that was not cold enough and not handled properly in the field. If you kill a bear, do so only in very cold weather, gut and skin it to get that heavy, warm hide off quickly. Quarter it and save the organs you want to eat. Cool the meat as quickly as possible. Again, the smell of the fat will tell you if it has been eating clean and how much fat you can use. It is also best to freeze bear meat for at least a month before eating. Eat the heart, liver, kidneys and tongue right away though. Bear tongue is particularly good if prepared properly - boil and skin it, then roast with onions, herbs and peppers, slice and eat like roast beef. IF the fat is good, you can render it like hog lard. There is a lot of excellent sausage meat on a bear, too.
If bear tongue is similar in texture to a beef tongue, my kids would eat it. I would not. I tried it & couldn't handle the flavor.
I heard a northern hunter/trapper rave about bear fried anything. He said that made the best doughnuts and he loved bear "ham." I have read that bear fat is excellent for rheumatoid arthritis.
My parents have bears go through in spring & fall. Most likely that wouldn't coincide with cold enough (but I don't know)...and I don't know when hunting season is for bears anyway.
I live in the South, it can be 90 degrees F here in late November! So, temp is a huge factor for me - may be a lot easier where you live. Deer season starts here in September. That is an absolute no for me.... but, I hunt for meat, not trophies. The weekend warriors can have their big bucks. I'll wait until later in the season. Even the finest beef won't taste good or have a good texture if you strive it around in the heat for a few hours, showing it off. I really don't know why people get that about fish more readily than game... the smell, I guess. But my motto is gut it, skin it and chill it ASAP!
Armadillos carry leprosy; I've never heard of them carrying the plague.
oh @kbmbillups1 that was ADORABLE!
Thanks @Leslie Carl for bringing to my attention... Yes, @judsoncarroll4 I would love to feature that. Are you building now? Are you documenting it? Why not create a thread in the forums and let us follow you? Sounds so amazing.. we are headed right into a 'big hurt' time and will need solutions like this.
@Marjory Wildcraft Soon - I'm helping with an older relative right now. I plan to chose the site and begin later this year. I'll document it all here. Thanks!
@Laurie and @judsoncarroll4
We have a lot of black bear in our area. Because it is much cooler here than where @judsoncarroll4 is we do not have to worry so much about the heat. But that being said it is always best to dress and chill the meat as quickly as possible. One tip I would recommend for bear is to open the stomach and examine the contents. If it has been eating at a garbage dump the meat will taste like garbage. We have several large salmon runs during the summer and fall and if it has been eating fish, the meat will taste like fish. But we have eaten bear a number of times. Excellent meat. Bear lard is one of the finest pastry lards I have ever used.
@judsoncarroll4 - After me "Recommending you as another candidate for the Clone-machine" (a phrase I reserve for people I think of as exemplary in some specific area), you responded "I'm not one to make grandiose statements... ".
Well, I look for ways to PRAISE, & build people up most of the time. - In our depressed world where people post the most judgmental things on like U-tube, & can't wait to tear each other to pieces, like a pack of rabid wolves, - I choose to believe that instead we should look for ways to BUILD EACH OTHER UP, & so I live to try & do just that. - All this to say that Yes, you are helpful in many ways 🤗
I'm far more comfortable praising others than myself... thank you for your kind words.
@judsoncarroll4 I had meant to say that I couldn't handle the texture. It was quite fatty.
@torey That makes a lot of sense. Lots of meats change flavor depending on what it had eaten.
In Hawaii, we don't have those guys, but we have mice, rats, and mongoose. All eat stuff just like all the bugs! I've developed the attitude and reality that because we all have to eat, if I want some of the garden I have to "share". So I grow a little more than I need and everyone is happy. I do try to keep the garden clean enough to discourage animals. On the other hand we have wild feral pigs. They destroy everything. So I have a garden fence to keep them out! I don't really like sharing. They did enjoy a bunch of lychee last spring though!
@judsoncarroll4 Thanks for the info on cooking and enjoying the critters. I will cook what I have hunted but never tried critters in the yard (other than doves flying by) I am venturing more and more into self-sufficiency and this opens a whole wide range of protein sources. However last year my biggest problem pest was 2 of the neighbor's goats getting into the garden.
I LOVE THIS 💕💕🤣🤣 best thing I’ve seen all day thx for sharing!!!