Foraging for walnuts: Pt. 2
Foraging for walnuts, I’m reminded of a squirrel foraging for acorns. Afterwards we’ll squirrel away the nuts, hers for winter, ours rationed to last a year. Grey squirrels must have had some great food stores in the city’s parks when we stayed in Toronto for a couple of weeks in the mid-80s. And there were plenty of the lively rodents in England’s London too.
That was the 1980s and since then we’ve stayed put in pest-rich, squirrel-free New Zealand. Grey squirrel, master of the art of foraging, clever hider of nuts, something of a pest itself – eating and bullying the smaller red squirrel out of house and home. We didn’t need to go in search of them. Used to people feeding them, I had one climb up my leg.
It’s good to remind myself that animals and hunter-gatherers search far and wide for the food they need; that foraging is infinitely more than a latter-day human pastime; that so many of us have lost that connection with where our food really comes from.
As I said in my last post (Foraging for walnuts: Pt. 1) , you wouldn’t class me as a forager or hunter, but I do know where my food comes from. That said, you can be too eager to make a point.
Years ago I read a newspaper article about some half life-size concrete cows that became internationally well-known sculptural additions to the Buckinghamshire town of Milton Keynes. The writer was at pains to point out that the artist was making a cynical statement about modern cities and towns, places where children wouldn’t know what a real cow looked like or where their milk came from. According to Wikipedia that was quite a common misconception:
… commentators have interpreted it as an example of conceptual art: the artist poking fun … that [the new city] would consist entirely of concrete pavements where once there were fields, and where its deprived children would need models to know how real cows once looked.
The online encyclopedia, under the sub-heading ‘Context’, then asserts:
The reality of course was different: Milton Keynes Development Corporation was building ‘a city in the forest’, with substantially more open green space than found in traditional cities. Furthermore, there are real cows within 2 miles (3 km) of the site, and the cows are currently located in a real field.
If you’re at all interested in that sort of thing, then I think you’ll find the saga of the Concrete Cows a fascinating one, and the Wikipedia entry (Concrete Cows), as good a place as any to get started.
Not that you need real cows, goats, sheep these days to produce the milk you can buy in your supermarket. Ones that come to mind are soy, oat and almond. And a fleeting search adds cashew, and walnut milk. Milk’s no longer the exclusive preserve of mammals with their mammary glands. They had a barista on the radio the other day attesting to the flavour and popularity of coffee with oat milk added.
June’s goats, farmed along organic lines, and their milk consumed raw, unpastuerized, is where we are at and likely to stay. As I have my coffee black and June doesn’t drink the stuff, oat milk coffee, walnut milk coffee or any other milk coffee is out of the question. And the 7 kg of walnuts we gathered from underneath two trees in a public park will be squirreled away, nuts cracked open to meet the need for walnuts in June’s baking.
That’s all on modern-day homesteading at Little Owl Gully for this week. All that talk of coffee cake and coffee drinks has got my coffee cravings going – must be time for a strong black plunger coffee. And must be time to write about it. So next Monday’s post: Coffee.
Thanks for your company. Bye for now.