Fall is coming on. You can feel it in the cooler nights, despite having some mid-80 degree temps for the past few days. You sense in the shorter days with dark coming on by 7 or 7:30 PM and it’s 6:30 AM before the sky lights up in the east. We see squirrels gathering acorns and it seems we have more squirrels this year compared to past years. When we pulled in the driveway after 4 PM Mass on Saturday, four squirrels, two of them black, were feverishly gathering acorns under the big oak tree in the front yard. Walnuts are falling from the trees along my jogging path in the marsh area. Sumac in the hinterlands are turning red. Some soybean fields are losing their dark green color and the yellows are moving in. The corn silk on the ends of the ears have turned from whitish-yellow to a dark brown. We see several flocks of geese overhead in their familiar V shape pattern. Spotted some butterflies and a wooly bear caterpillar.
All these signs of Fall makes me harken back to my days on the farm in the late 1040s and 1950s on Oak Grove Ridge in Crawford County outside of Seneca. Phillip, a year older than me, and Bob, a year younger than me would be looking forward to squirrel hunting. Dad had his own timetable. Something about the squirrel meat not being any good until we’ve had a good hard frost.
We only had one rifle for the three of us, a single-shot Stevens, I believe, so we had to take turns hunting. Sometimes two of us would go together. Dad taught us how to skin a squirrel. Squirrel meat was very good, very tender, a true delicacy.
In early October Dad would take us coon hunting down in the depths of Kettle Hollow. My dog Browser would go along. Raccoons came around the farm buildings at night. They were after anything we had, that tasted good to a raccoon, like young chickens, lambs, and piglets. These farm critters were all good meals for the “masked bandits”, as we called them. More about coon hunting in the next blog.