Saturday, 14 January 2012

Hunting and gathering

I am not a particularly skilled gardener - if we had to live of what I am able to grow, we'd look like a family of anorexics. That said, we are getting a reasonable tomato crop this year - for the first time ever. Over the last decade, I have learned every possible way to kill tomato plants, cucumbers, eggplants, capsicum, chilli, rocket, carrots, corn and cauliflower. If experience is the sum of your mistakes, then I am very experienced.

The tomatoes need picking every day, and as we had a bevy of teenagers in the backyard recently, I told them to grab a bucket and do the picking.

Boy, took about being on the wrong end of a look of horror! It was if I had asked them to enter the Glade of Axe Murdering Maniacs for an extended overnight stay. Collecting food??! How primitive....and strange. And just downright weird.

I told them that I didn't bloody care - the tomatoes needing gathering, and they were the ones to do it. Three of them got off their bum and started tentatively hunting through the bushes, whilst the fourth hung back and said it wasn't for him.

Within 30 seconds, the 3 who ventured into the tomato jungle were having a good time foraging for food. However, Mr Cool had blown it, and not wanting to look silly, he slunk off instead of joining in.

It struck me that this must have been the first time any of them had actually gathered food from its source. They're city kids. Poor bastards.

By their age, I'd put so many rabbits in the pot, I can't bear to eat them in fancy restaurants these days. My uncle could skin a rabbit in seconds - he was a kid during the Depression, and one way to make money was in rabbiting. He could skin a rabbit faster than the eye could follow. A couple of nicks around the paws and then ziiiip! One naked rabbit.

Although I didn't grow up on a farm, I had access to enough of them during my teens and 20s to have spent a lot of time picking berries from bushes, fruit from trees and vegies from gardens. I still think the best icecream I've ever had was a home made one that we concocted from 5 different varieties of freshly picked berries, cream, sugar and a good dash of Vok. I've also helped with the messy business of turning kangaroos, sheep, pigs and cattle into chops and steaks and bacon and pet food. I can't butcher a carcass for nuts - just as I am useless at filleting fish and cleaning squid and octopus. But I've done it and I can do it. Just not very professionally. About the only thing I am good at is taking the heads off prawns.

As for seafood, I've scuba dived for prawns, peeled abalone off rocks, collected crayfish, waded through dams netting yabbies, speared lots of fish and potted drunkenly for crabs.

And with fowl, I've wielded the axe on chickens, shot at a lot of ducks (and missed) and found the best way to get them is with a trap. All very illegal of course, but my uncle was never one for following the rule book when it came to collecting food. Especially delicious food.

The kids have missed out on all of that. Their idea of foraging is to trek up to McDonalds. I'll have to see if I can do something about that.

2 comments:

Minicapt said...

Kind of outdoorsy:
http://survival.instantestore.net/cat_cave_cooking_videos.cfm

Cheers

prairiecat55kc said...

I ate the first of my radish crop yesterday. Not exactly a veg I'd be able to survive on, but it was quite tasty. Never planted them before. Cabbages & head lettuce are doing nicely, as is the brocolli that I started from seed!