Archive for January, 2018

Porcupine Meatballs

Growing up in a family where our hunter/gatherer father brought home a wide variety of local wild foods, we never knew just what would be on the dinner table. Would it be plain old green beans, steamed cattail stamens,  or wild asparagus? Beef, venison, duck, or partridge?  Once or twice a year, we shared a wild  dinner with another family where everything except the salt and pepper was obtained from the wild. At one of those dinners, Mom said we were having “real” porcupine meatballs, and we ate without question, as she was a wonderful cook. I really don’t remember if those meatballs tasted good or bad, and I’ve asked the others, but their memories are a sketchy as mine.  I thought about the REAL porcupine meatballs the other day when a REAL porcupine took up residence under our front porch. Every night he slept there and every day he would head to the top of the pine trees near the garage. Maybe it was vice versa, because except for one sighting, all we saw were tracks back and forth in the snow.  Porcupines do not have any natural predators around here, and although they won’t bite you, they can be destructive creatures, chewing on wood and killing trees, and we all know what happens when they are disturbed. I tried to warn Mr. Porky by stomping on the porch every day  and yelling “Go away!” while standing underneath the pine trees. When he didn’t leave, I knew his days were numbered. We are all for sharing our world with various woodland creatures, but you can’t have an irritated porcupine living on your doorstep. At least I can’t. One day, HE and Barney the Brave Chihuahua ran an errand, leaving the garage door open for a few minutes.  I’m sure you can guess what happened next: Mr. Porky took advantage of the open door, headed inside, and hid behind the woodpile. When they got home, I heard wild barking from the garage and ran out to find HIM between Porky and Barney, holding Porky back with one hand on an axe handle and holding Barney back with the other. This is not our seven-pound Chihuahua’s first argument with a porcupine, either. I’ll admit to shedding a few tears while pulling quills out of Barney’s nostrils, and HE managed to pull his own quills without any tears. Porky  is now in porcupine heaven. I would have rather had him live out his days killing pine trees in the Bowstring State Forest, but it was not meant to be. Porky’s life was not in vain, however. My sister wanted the quills for the baskets she weaves, so I put the frozen corpse in a cardboard box and carried it into her garage.  Just like our mother, she is good at both crafting and cooking, and is married to a hunter/gatherer. I doubt if she will make REAL porcupine meatballs, but just in case you are invited over for dinner, you might want to tell her you are a vegetarian. 



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