Acorns - Why The Bumper Crop This YearsteemCreated with Sketch.

in #nature3 years ago

My Grandpa always told me that a bumper crop of acorns meant we were gonna have a hard winter. This will be the year that I will know if that old wives tale holds any water or not. The first winter I spent on this land was in 2012 and we had one hum-dinger of a winter with record breaking below zero temperatures and lots of snow. (I live in KY, so that's unusual for us.) Truth be told, I have no idea of the acorn crop that year.


This year I've seen more acorns than ever before. Granted, I wasn't paying super close attention "each" previous year. But, I do know that last year was a sparse year for them. I have oak trees surrounding my house and can hear them hit my metal roof.

It's funny the ways one finds to amuse themselves when they live alone. I can tell the size of the acorns by the sound. I think, oh, that was a big one because it bounced off the roof. Then there are the small ones. I imagine the ole tuck and roll as they go down the roof line.

This brought me to think about why trees produce more or less fruit over the years. I assumed that weather and pest conditions would be the answer. I was very curious about the abundance of these acorns. So I did a bit of digging and found a theory that most scientists believe to be true.

In a nut shell, haha, they believe that if nut trees produced a bumper crop every year that the animal populations would grow to such an extent that they would devour the entire harvest. As a result, no nuts/seeds would be left to grow into trees. This is where the "mast cycle" comes into play. Mast is described as, the "fruit of forest trees like acorns and other nuts". Definition Source

During harsh years of low nut production, the wildlife decreases in numbers as there isn't enough food to eat. Once this has happened a very bountiful year occurs and the trees produce more nuts than can ever be consumed. This is the trees way of ensuring that some of the nuts will germinate into seedlings and repopulate the forests.

I've recently started to record this cycle. Because I live off-grid, I have to be very aware of weather conditions, temperatures and amount of sunlight hours. As well as, solar charge controllers and inverter readings. I've kept journals of all this for several years now. This allows me to prepare more efficiently. I can pretty much tell you within a few days of when there won't be enough sun to power certain items or when a generator will be necessary. So creating a brief journal of observational data is sorta secondhand to me. It's easy to do and interesting to look back on.

I had fun playing with some acorns and noticed the life cycle of the nut. I put together a little photo collection for you. Enjoy.

Onward in Strength!
Mary Lotus










For many years I lived around the 32nd parallel on Turtle Island near the Great Ocean of the Setting Sun within the bounds of the old Ipai/Kumeyaay nation.

Back then I was sort of normal (sort of). I used to work every day and drive and live in a normal house like most "normal" people. My house and driveway were shaded by many oak trees. In the fall, the acorns would drop by the ton and one evening after work, I drove down my driveway and was caught by the popping noise as I drove over them.

These acorns were the staple of the Ipai. Outside of my house was a large boulder with six morteros (grindingstone holes) ground into it. My house sat upon an area where the indigenous people would camp and gather acorns, grind them, and process them for food. Acorns were their staple and were very sacred to them. And here I was driving my car over them like they meant nothing. After I parked, I wandered back amongst the thousands of acorns littering my driveway. I bent down and examined them, looking at them for the first time in a very different way. I knew there was a way to prepare them, that they needed the tannins leached out of them before they were edible but I had no idea how to do that.

In those days I had a small chiropractic practice in the local community that was close to a couple of the ghettos relegated to the ancestors of the original Turtle Island inhabitants and many of these locals were my patients. I asked one woman who was my age how her people had done the leaching process to make acorns edible and she said, "Ask me about George Washington. I know the same stuff you know. I know almost nothing about my own culture. My grandmother knew how it was done but she's been dead for many years." Happily, that trend is now reversing and the aboriginals of Turtle Island are relearning and passing on their skills and history to their children.

Back to the acorns in my driveway: I picked one up. It had a black spot and a tiny hole in the shell. I grabbed another one. It too had a tiny hole. Only a few of the acorns where pristine. I cracked one of the others open and inside was a tiny, white worm. At first I thought that these acorns were rejects, but then I put myself in the mindset of someone surviving on these. I wondered if maybe the ancient locals might think of this tiny worm in a positive way; perhaps an extra little bit of protein. Two heartbeats later I popped it in my mouth and bit down. It was sweetish, almost like spring water. I cracked open another acorn and ate the little worm. It was delicious. A person could literally collect a handful of these worms and toss them in your mouth like a handful of berries. Nothing objectionable about them at all. Of course in those days I wasn't about to do that!

I have since learned how to process acorn mash. It's a bit bitter, but it's something that one could learn to enjoy, an acquired taste like any food you aren't raised on. That evening when I ate those worms I grew a little in my appreciation of those who had lived in this garden of Eden that my house, garage and car were now parked upon. It was just one step on the path that has brought me to my present state of evolution and I'm grateful that I took the time to wonder and question and act, to pause and "smell the roses," so to speak.

Thank you for this wonderful and inspiring post.

Thanks for the article.

I came across a massive oak tree while working a few weeks ago and tried to collect some acorns to plant.this following spring. Unfortunately the pesky squirrels seemed to have devoured them all. I could not find one intact. Just caps and shells.

I love those moments of clarity. It's like I see something for the first time, having passed by hundreds or even thousands of times before. It's at those moments that I truly feel alive and burst with appreciation. I wish I had a fraction of the knowledge my great-grandparents had. I am happy to see so many returning to more traditional methods. If I only had one wish, it would be to have started this journey many years earlier. Be well my friend.

Thank you. I did start on this journey a very long time ago. It's been a long one, but I wouldn't have done it any other way. Keep on keeping on! It's worth it.

Such gorgeous colors in those acorns! That last photo is especially beautiful! It looks like you have at least two different kinds of oaks.

I wonder if the oaks in the "white oak" group are more likely to have widely fluctuating crops. Their acorns mature in one year, while the "black/red oak" group takes 2 years to mature their acorns. So they would have to set on a huge crop and then keep them holding on the next year. That seems like it would be too long of a commitment to really cycle through lean years and mast years very effectively. Their acorns have a lot more tannin in them, too. So wildlife likes the "white oak" group a lot more -- maybe that extra pressure leads to the process you describe.

I like to eat acorns, especially the larger ones from different oaks in the "white oak" group. Bur oak acorns are really good - and big, and chestnut oaks and chinquapin oaks are almost low enough in tannin to eat straight up, no processing. Enjoy your acorns!

I had no idea there were acorns that could be eaten without preparation. I'm not confident in my identification of the different oaks on my property yet. I know I have several. It's a lot easier for me to tell after the fact, when I'm splitting the wood. The deer really seem to like the majority of the acorns in the pictures. So perhaps they are white oaks. I have ordered a tree identification book for my state. I'm looking forward to reading that.

I was wondering the same thing. It is the same here in Tennessee, lots of acorns, walnuts, and hickory nuts.

I'm in Southern KY, just 15 minutes from TN. So I bet it's the same. It's been a bumper crop for all the native nut trees this year. I also saw another old wives tale indicator of a rough winter coming. The woolly worms are solid black. I just took some pictures and think I'll make a post about them.

Yes, I've seen some of those too. My grandson wasn't playing with one the other day.

I love that you found such beauty in unripe and rotten acorns! My husband and I have been researching how to make flour out of the bumper crop of white oak acorns that we've been blessed with this year, so I've only had eyes for the sound ones. Thanks for giving me a bit of a different look. :)

Sometimes nature just strikes me. I'm glad that everyday common things, aren't so common to me.

My kiddo made some acorn flour. All I know is that she boiled the nuts first before she could process the flour. She's made some baked goods with the flour that were quite good. You can't beat foraged food.

thanks for your post and the lovely collection of acorns! The old folks here in this now call "Germany" were very aware about the interactions occuring within nature/life.... trying to keep notes about some of those occurances in my yearly "gardening-booklet".... and I consider it such a treat to find out more and more of this "undercovered knowledge".... cheers from Germany!

My Oma & Opa were form Germany and they kept very detailed notebooks. They died when I was young and they rest of the family moved on from their "old ways". Very sadly, I remember them burning all the notebooks along with lots of other paperwork when they were cleaning their house out. How I'd love to have those precious notebooks now.

oh, how much I can relate with that! I have - and treasure - at least the handwriten cooking-book of my husbands great-grandmother.... If there is a thing I can get really sad about, then it's the fakt of all the knowlegde lost.... but I guess some of us are on a good way rediscovering at least some of it! do you know which part of Germany your Oma and Opa came from?

From Amorbach, my maiden name was Bachmann. Thankfully her recipe box was saved. One thing I remember (I was nine when they passed) is how Oma would set out a roast on the counter the night before and cook it the next day. She said it made it tender and oh boy, it was! Today, there'd be an agency called for gross misconduct, haha.

I just wanted to thank you for resteeming my post Recycling Yard Waste: One Community Gets With The Program. I got slapped by a whale right after that, puked ambergris all over me. I owe ya one!

ahhh, you're so lucky there!!! Ment to leave you a comment but was running out of time - just as now- have to get supper set on the table for the kids - but will be back later on!!! hope you get a whale-slap on every single post!!!! Cheers for now

You're the best!

Nice post.. Coool Image
Upvoted and Following you to be regular viewer of you posts..

Thank you so much. I like your name, I'll have to stop by and check you out.

Must be similar for my apple tree, just about every other year I get a good crop. Keep up with the observations and documentations! We all appreciate it ( :

I'm like a babe in the woods. I had my eyes closed for so long. I'm loving all these observations. Thankfully, I have one kiddo who thinks as I do and will appreciate my journals. Thanks for stopping by.

@themerrylotus Well done for sticking at it! Love it. Followed..

Off subject, but I have a grand-dog named Monkey and she's pretty fantastic, haha.

I love it! Reconect with nature and its messages ♡ and our ancestrals tales that take sense again. I ll follow u :3 have a nice day!

It seems funny to me that we/I am discovering what has always been known.

May be there are things that we need to be interest in to can see or belive in. Like the same cycles you said, we have thems maybe in a way of think or be in nature? (Im not the best english speaker so its a bit hard to me explain more the idea hehe)

Your English is fine, I understand what you are trying to say.

This is wonderful @themerrylotus! It reminds me of the times I would hunt for acorns as a child, and I am interested in seeing your results. Being a flatlander now, I don't have the benefits of oak trees, but they still bring back the memories. Hope you get a good harvest from foraging as well!

Fun childhood memories are the best. They can get you through anything. You might not have trees, you just traded for something else, that's all. Thanks for stopping by.

I did enjoy reading from your first hand experience about these fascinating natural cycles. Great post. I like it.

Thank you. I've really started paying attention to the land around me.

I'm glad to meet you here. I'm fascinated with off grid living and I'm looking forward to your future posts.

@themerrylotus So much information thanks for sharing.

You are very welcome.

Lovely story and photos. :)

Thanks you. Glad you stopped by.

So interesting about the life cycles and or fruiting cycles - however you want to look at it. I always, like you, thought that water supply and such determined how much fruit we are getting. But it makes complete sense that nature has a population control build in.
The more we learn, the more amazing this world is!!
We used to make crafts with acorns when I was a kid. Sadly, many oak trees here (CA) are dying due to a borer infestation.

I am continually dazed and amazed by nature. So much to learn just by opening our eyes. Oh, so sad to hear about the oaks out west. We have borers here (KY) that are decimating the ash trees.

Trees are in peril from so many sources! Mostly us, and maybe most is somehow caused by us to begin with.