Wild Harvest Season

An almost glugging sound comes from the hills and pastures lately. The wild turkeys are enjoying wild harvest season.

Some walk around in the pastures reaping grass seed for hours. Grass seed is very small and it takes thousands of seeds to fill up a turkey. Our oats and wheat were once small until ancient farmers selected for bigger and bigger seeds.

Here and there clumps of trees drop another wild harvest. The persimmons are ripe.

persimmons are a sweet wild harvest
I have one goat who comes in not for the oats, but for the persimmons. The tree in the front yard obligingly drops several a day now and the goats love them. The goats must compete with the grey foxes, the opossums, the raccoons, the deer and other wild creatures who also love persimmons.

Wild lore says that persimmons aren’t ripe until after frost. That seems true most years, but not this year. The persimmons are ripe and falling even though there has been no frost, not even a light one this fall.

Lots of animals love persimmons, raccoons among them. Growing fruit requires protecting it from these crafty and determined fruit eaters.

Not persimmons. Even a raccoon won’t eat a green persimmon. It puckers the mouth filling it with a sharp taste that persists for hours. Ripe persimmons are soft, sweet as candy delights.

Up on the hills the squirrels, turkeys and deer are enjoying another wild harvest: acorns. This is a great year for them. The ground is covered with the various kinds.

acorns valuable wild harvest
These are chinkapin oak acorns, I think. Different kinds of oaks have acorns that look very different both in shape of the nut and the shape and size of the cap. The one in the center has a tiny hole in it where a weevil larva burrowed its way out after eating the nut.

White oak acorns are the preferred ones as they have the least tannic acid giving them a milder taste. The acorn consumers don’t stop there and eat any of them they find.

Lean times are coming. Winter will drop the leaves to the ground and stop the grass from growing. Here in the Ozarks food will be scarce for three to four months. Even the animals that don’t hibernate want a thick layer of fat to help keep them warm and to draw nutrition from.

The goats agree. They charge out of the pasture gate each morning and head to favorite spots. The first is a group of persimmon trees across the creek.

N is for Nubians who love acorns
From “For Love of Goats” this entry for N is Nubians, of course, who love the wild harvest of acorns.

Next is the hillside nearby for the acorns. This leads to another hill with a great wild harvest spot just over the crest.

Late in the afternoon the goats come down along a wet weather creek to the line of persimmon trees there. And they are getting fat from gorging on the wild harvest.

Essays about events happening in the different seasons are in “Exploring the Ozark Hills.”