austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Wintertime's nice with its ice and snow

So we learned a couple weeks ago that raw peanuts aren't actually that great for squirrels. Raw peanuts have a trypsin inhibitor that means malnutrition for squirrels on a steady raw-peanut diet, and if that weren't enough, there's a fungal toxin that can produce liver damage. Seeds of the kind that're easy to get at the garden store produce mineral deficiencies. This probably isn't such a problem during the summer, when our feeders are just one option of many; but, this winter particularly, with the ground hidden by upwards of twenty feet of snow, they're certainly depending very much on what we put out.

Some of what we can do is easy enough: we're getting a variety of seeds and not just putting peanuts out, on the hypothesis that while any one food may be problematic, at least if they get a variety then they're not going to get any one deficiency too severely. bunny_hugger has also started saving our eggshells to put out, where the squirrels can nibble upon them and get calcium. At least they would if the squirrels started actually nibbling them; we haven't seen much evidence that they're getting the hint. Maybe they're not worried about their calcium intake, the mad fools.

The other thing is that we can make raw peanuts healthier for squirrels by roasting them: cooking them for about a half-hour at 300 degrees Fahrenheit destroys the trypsin inhibitor and doesn't do the fungal infection any favors. So that's become a new routine of every one to two weeks getting the frying pans and making several pans worth of roasted peanuts, to be stored in plastic bags and dispensed to the squirrel feeder as needed. This is a bit of work, mostly for the need to stir the peanuts; however, it does mean that the house smells of roasted peanuts all evening, so this is quite the win-win scenario.

Trivia: On the 11th of May, 1861, the Confederate Congress resolved by a vote of 5 to 3 to hold its next session in Richmond, Virginia, rather than Montgomery, Alabama. Jefferson Davis returned the resolution with the observation that the entire government should move, or at least be in the same location. Source: The Confederate Nation, 1861 - 1865, Emory M Thomas.

Currently Reading: The Other Fifties: Interrogating Midcentury American Icons, Editor Joel Foreman.

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