It was two weeks ago that we weighed the turkeys and put them on acorn supplements to fatten them up for the big day. Only a few days after that, our acorn diet plan hit a snag.
We have a bazillion oak trees, and each oak tree produces a bazillion acorns. That means our acorn total comes to a bazillion squared, which is a lot. When we harvested our first few supplements in a matter of minutes, I was sanguine in my certainty that our plentiful supply would last us through Thanksgiving.
Then I learned something about squirrels, and now I understand why there are so many, and they always look so fat and glossy. They are acorn-gathering machines.
One day, you go out there and there are acorns all over the place. The next day, you go out there and it’s all caps. You scrounge around a bit and find a few uneaten nuts only to discover that they’re rotten, which is why the squirrels didn’t bother with them.
So, in one fell swoop you discover that A) you don’t have any acorns and B) squirrels are smarter than you.
It’s humiliating. But we’ve been humiliated by so many things since we started this enterprise that we’ve learned to take it in stride.
I guess that explains the scene that played out yesterday morning at PB Boulangerie.
PB Boulangerie is a new bakery and bistro in Wellfleet, about 40 miles up the Cape from us. It’s gotten a very good reputation in the months it’s been open, and we’ve been looking for an excuse to get up there and try it. We had errands that took us in that direction yesterday, and that was all the excuse we needed.
‘PB,’ I assume, stands for Pure Butter. That is what all the products at PB Boulangerie are made of. That, a little sugar, some white flour, and maybe some raisins or raspberries. All those products, needless to say, are irresistibly delicious. It’s a good thing PB Boulangerie is 40 miles away.
They have a lovely little garden with tables and chairs, and that is where Kevin and I sat, drinking our coffee and eating our breakfast goodies. And we weren’t the only ones. Despite its being a chilly morning, the garden was filled with every croissant-lover from Yarmouth to Provincetown.
There’s an oak tree in the middle of the garden. A very, very large oak tree. And, apparently, Wellfleet doesn’t have any squirrels, because there were as many nuts as caps. Kevin was the first to understand the implications.
“Honey,” he said, looking at me conspiratorially. “Look over there.” He pointed to the ground around the tree.
“You like that boat planter?” I asked, thinking that was what he was pointing to. I can be slow sometimes.
“No, not that …” he gestured with his head to the very base of the tree. “Those.”
Finally, the light dawned. Acorns! They were absolutely everywhere.
Kevin went to the car to see if we had a couple of bags in the trunk (there are advantages to never cleaning out your car), and I went in to – yes – ask permission. I didn’t imagine they were saving the acorns for anything, but I didn’t feel right about taking them without asking.
Permission was readily granted, and Kevin and I spent the next ten minutes on our hands and knees, putting acorns in bags, while every croissant-lover from Yarmouth to Orleans watched.
We collected enough acorns for fourteen days’ rations, and took them home, along with what was left of our raspberry brioche.
When we mixed the acorns in with the turkey feed, we also checked the turkeys’ weight. When last we put them on the scale, Drumstick was 17 pounds, Beta and Gamma were 14.5, and Edith was 10, and I’m happy to report they’ve all grown.
Drumstick now comes in at an even 20, Beta is 18.5, Gamma is 18, and Edith is 12.5.
The turkey you put in your oven is about 70% of the turkey walking around in the pen, so If Drumstick puts on another four pounds between now and slaughter, he should come out to about 16 pounds dressed. A good-sized bird, certainly, but next year we’ll start a little earlier in the hopes of growing them a bit bigger.
Meantime, we’re planning to take our revenge on the squirrels: we’re going to shoot them. Our friend Andre says they’re delicious – better than rabbit! – and since we’re having trouble with pheasant we figure they’ll be our fall-back position next hunting day.
I can’t let a rodent have the last laugh.