On mudbugs

I am of course a “if you want it so badly, you get to do the work yourself” kind of parent:  2 lb lobster dives into the boiling pot

My husband was away last week (he had a teaching gig) and my daughter and I reveled in the culinary freedom that his absence gave us.  He’s a picky eater, see; fortunately for my garden, he likes vegetables, but all fish and all cheese are just plain not eaten by the guy.  While the seafood thing isn’t such a hardship for us, we do have a home dairy and…I do make a lot of cheese.  His loss.

So, we had a fish and cheese vacation ourselves.  The kid loves lobster so I figured it was time to teach her how to cook, pull apart and eat one…and those red shells make a fine stock for some of the week’s fishy dishes.  We did the usual biology quiz too (crusacea, exoskeleton, decapods, 10 legs, etc.) and I reminded her again about our yard crayfish, the land lobster.

Timing it, watching its color change

You see, crayfish (crawdads, etc.) don’t just live in streams.  Some species find the clay soil of our land quite hospitable, land that is hundreds of feet from any standing or running body of water.  These are the digging crayfish.  They reside in burrows, never actually needing a stream or a pond.

  Child’s size 12 boot for scale

This of course got her wheels turning.  “Can we bait a hook and catch them?  Can we dig them up?  Can I put some food out and catch them with my butterfly net?”  I said they didn’t come out during the day, but she was welcome to feed them, so we found the two known burrows and left some fish skin at the mouths of the holes.  It was gone the next day.  She now has visions of feeding them so they’ll breed  more and we can then harvest them.

I suppose this isn’t so far-fetched.  It’s her daily experience that our land feeds us, with our help (fruit, veg, eggs, poultry, milk…and foraged items like bolete and morel mushrooms, rose hips, elderflowers and berries, sassafras, sumac and maple syrup) so why not add mudbugs to the list?

11 responses to “On mudbugs

  1. Wow, I had no idea that there were land dwelling crawdads. I’ll have to do some research to see if they live around here. I’ve caught my share of crawdads and they are some good eating. I wish you guys luck in getting them to breed.

  2. Oh that’s so interesting! What a great thing that your daughter has that understanding that your land feeds your family. I’ve got a 13yo “mini culinary master” myself, and I’ve always worked to instill that into her. Looks like we have something in common. Oh, and she would love lobster, I’m sure! 🙂

  3. I hope that was Maine lobster! I love that your daughter is thinking that way… good job

  4. I have seen those mud-holes down near our creek and wondered what they were. Maybe they’re crawfish!

  5. I thought you were pulling our legs about the crawfish! I admit I googled it, and I am pleased to say that I have learned my new thing for the day before lunch. Thanks!

  6. What a wonderful, classic education your kiddo is getting! It’s something she can use all her life. Plus this is the stuff memories are made of.

  7. I too am amazed to learn of these terrestrial crawdads. I thought it was along the lines of the camp-o-ree snipe hunt. Wonders never cease! Maybe we’ve got these tunneling under Bide-A-Wee along with the pocket gophers. Salut- Brett

  8. I love the idea of crawdad ranching. It’s really all you need to do to go full post-apocalyptic on us. One question, though- what happens if they develop a taste for human flesh?

  9. Hey all: the burrowing crawdads usually leave tall mud “chimneys” at the mouths of their burrows, a lot taller than the thing in my picture above (it’s in the goat field so it gets trampled) so if you see something like it, and usually see a few holes, then blammo that might be what they are.

    Fritz, I doubt she will take it that far but I love that that’s how her wheels turn (because frankly that’s how MINE turn, often).

    Kristi! Hi, and welcome. I would say your 13 year old would love lobster especially if she likes shrimp and the like; it’s lots more subtle. And good for you with leading by example.

    Thanks, Ali! And she’s hankering for more, constantly bugging me…we’ll see.

    Joshua, go see. Especially if there are the mud chimneys that’s probably what they are.

    Bev, hah. Yep, I try hard not to pull all you all’s legs, often. They’re not terribly numerous, but they’re around. Just gotta look.

    Ilene, she is thinking about ways to catch them with her fishing pole. We’ll see how it goes, especially since it’s still so warm outside.

    Dang, Brett, you can keep your pocket gophers (our German shepherd did all of ours in by literally lying by their hole all day until the idiots came out. He was one smart dog.) but you might be in luck if you find, in your bottomlands, land that is kind of damp and clay-ey. That’s prime mudbug territory.

    Peter, of course if the worst does happen, there should be plenty of human flesh to sample. Anyway, yeah, I am often envious of your access to fruitti di mare, and don’t you have a creek nearby? In other words you can outdo me I am sure.

  10. Never knew there were land dwelling craw dads either!

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