Monday, September 17, 2007


It doesn't rain all summer in California. Things get dry, the rivers dry up, ponds disappear, fires burn out of control. Fields here on The Ranch are irrigated, kept green for cattle and horse grazing. The method here is to open big pipes on the ground and just flood the pastures as needed. Note, across the road, the 'golden' fields are a result of no watering.
Tonight I called Jerry as I headed home from work. He answered with ,'You'll never guess what I'm doing right now'. Well, I knew he was planning to be out messing with the irrigation, up to his ankles in mud and water. So my guess was right. But in addition to digging little ditches to direct water, he claimed to be gathering dinner also.... 'what????' He started carrying on about crawdads all over the field...., 'crawdads???' 'yeah, you know crayfish.' 'WHAT are you talking about?' He starts into this description of little things, you know, look like small lobsters..... 'OK OK, I know what they are, what are they doing in the field?' He explains, 'crawling all over, lots of 'em.' There are some things I know about; geese flying south, June bugs hitting the screens in June, 17 year cicadas, even caribou migration. The 'lots of crawdads in the field' just didn't make sense.

The front pasture tonight, lush and green from a good water soaking. As soon as I get home I grab my camera and ask to be shown the crawdads crawling all over the place. Looks pretty innocent from here.

We walk out and they are everywhere. Big Red Crawdads. Jerry wouldn't put his hand any closer, the little boogers are rather aggressive. How did they get there? Where did they come from? The river is dry and a quarter mile out back. The ditches are dry. The little pond in front dried out early spring. The water flowing from the pipes is well water. The fields have been irrigated all summer, we never saw field crawdads before! Never... until tonight.

This is my size 7 boot. Kind of a large crawfish, don't you think? I crunched a couple of them, accidentally. eewwww

True to his earlier comment on the phone, Jerry had been gathering dinner for tonight. Here is a close up of the living main course on our picnic table. I am dying with laughter this entire time, these little beast are mean and in attack mode. Jerry had been out gathering them with B-B-Q tongs. I cannot believe the field is over run with these, they are also on the driveway and in the yards. As it got later there seemed to be more and more and more..... why have I never heard of crawdad migrations? Does this happen yearly? Where do they come from? Are they resurrected from the mud?

This picture is rather disturbing I know. A large tub full of angry red crayfish. There were several gallons of them, at least 50, I am sure. By now I am excited, I love lobster but have never feasted on Crayfish or Crawdads, whatever they are.
We plan our dinner. Pull a steak out of the freezer, pop a couple of baked potatoes in the microwave, steam fresh broccoli, melt butter, and select a dozen or so of the largest critters. I hope they are edible and really crawfish. I start to worry, I have never heard of land dwelling crayfish!

Fire up the grill, throw on the steaks, boil a pot of water and dump in the unlucky chosen ones.

Boil for 5 minutes. We didn't make that up. We actually called an expert. We called Jerry's brother up in Washington State. He lives on the coast; fishes, and lobsters and digs clams. He said must boil 5 minutes. He and Jerry also decide that if they look like crayfish, must be crayfish, therefore must be OK to eat.

More red but no longer angry.

Our 'gor-maayyy' supper. Lets call it steak and 'baby lobsters'. Those two were just posing for the photo-shoot. We actually only ate the tail meat. OH. MY. GOODNESS.
SUPERB! Dipped in melted butter, most delicate and delicious. mmm mmmm mmmmm
This was a meal to remember.

After eating our fill, we took the tub back out to the pasture and released the captives. That is not a sewer or anything gross, it is the irrigation pipe that water bubbles up through and that is just some mud, nothing gross.
I sure hope we don't get sick or anything. This place just has one tiny bathroom.


Jenn said...

Mmmmmm...I LOVE me some crawfish! I like 'em boiled with some cajun spices, a half a lemon and some little corn on the cobs. YUM!

It's kind of like having a garden...just go out back and pick your dinner! I'll bet they've all been hibernating under the ground and its the right time of year to come out so the irrigation brought them out. I hope the horses didn't have to battle with angry red crawfish for the grass!

Anonymous said...

R U gonna let us know, when u find out, where they actually came from? U R gonna look into aren't u? ALso try, Cajun sausage, rice, crawdads and cajun spices...Jumbolaya yum!

Anonymous said...

Some feast, Yummy. Now I like your kind of garden, go out in your own yard, pick up all the crawdads one would like to have for one's meal.
Yes, please let us know where did they all come from. Have they been around other years?