The 2014 edition of the Old Farmer's Almanac says it's going to be a long, cold winter with above-average precipitation. The squirrels in Texas apparently agree -- the resourceful little creatures began their winter preparations in the height of the heat last month in Dallas.
Common tree squirrels do not hibernate and often leave their dreys (the tree nests where they huddle comfortably with family members to keep warm) to search for food. Resident squirrels commonly bury food and nuts in the ground near their favorite trees, and they have been busy, alternately playing and burying winter stores, since late August. Now that it's nearing the end of September, and we have had a small taste of fall weather, they seem to be working a bit harder to stock up for the season.
They still occupy their time running along the telephone lines, perching atop fences, and playing tag around the bases of large trees. But one can also watch them, mouths full of nuts, searching for a convenient spot to dig and hide their treasure.
Maybe they know that Old Man Winter is just around the corner and they'd better be prepared!
You, too, can prepare for winter, and have great food ready to eat during the colder months if you stock up now on fresh produce from your local farmers market. Learn to can, pickle, freeze and preserve fresh food. Make jams and jellies from the fresh fruits now available, and pickle any number of vegetables, from cucumbers to peppers. Even meats can be preserved.
Follow this column over the coming weeks as we explore some old fashioned ways to eat well during the winter.