Friday, June 19, 2009

New Zealand Nights

Today I was interviewed by Bryan Crump on New Zealand Nights, what a nice man! It’s wonderful to suddenly have a connection to the other side of the world!

I didn’t even realise that Helix aspersa had reached New Zealand from Europe where it originated. Among other things, we discussed whether they got to NZ as gourmet food and managed to get out and settle down, as I think happened in the UK, or whether they hitched lifts unnoticed on imported plants and vegetables. Any ideas? If Bryan is right, about hitchhiking snails, why have other pests not spread so readily? Perhaps snails, particularly Helix aspersa are extra good travellers.

It would be great to get cooperation of ideas on these subjects between NZ and UK, and hopefully linking all over the world. If the snails can do it so can we! I don’t know how to get a forum going, help would be great, but some links might do it, please get in touch through the Comments, become a Follower, add your news and ideas please.

There’s a sister site called Gaia with a link on the right, not about snails but much much wider issues, and I think much more important. Do have a look and get in touch please. I did a FreeMind Mind Map of this too, which is good because you can then read it in the order that suits you, like Gaia, the whole thing is interwoven without beginning or end, it’s not a list really. But as yet, I haven’t managed to get that onto the web.

Any handy computer people or web designers that can help? Please?

Any publishers interested? I'm writing a science fiction novel too.
For recipes and more on preparing snails, go to the bottom of the page to Older Posts.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

15.6.9 I meant to cook snails tonight!
I had decided to eat the runts and small but mature snails. I gently felt the lip of each one in the vivarium, any that were soft are still growing, so I left them. There were several which looked quite small, but had a hard lips, indicating maturity. I wouldn’t want to breed from those, so I could either release them to the garden or eat them. Since there are still plenty around the house I decided to eat them and put them in a dry purging bucket to aestivate, which they did. Following my own instructions I washed them before plunging them in boiling water. As I washed them in a colander under the kitchen cold tap, they started emerging from their shells! It’s been very warm weather, so I suppose they were only waiting for a drop a water to get going. You can still kill them like that, but I don’t like the idea and would rather they were dormant, believing they suffer less. So I cleaned the aestivating bucket and put them back in. (we ate pizza instead!) They’re washed now, so in another few days I will kill them in boiling water without further ado. I think 3 days from today will be OK.
Next time I'm going to wash the snails thoroughly before putting them to aestivate, then only clean them up dry by hand, before killing them. When they’ve been killed I throw away that water anyway and then pick them from their shells. After that, I wash them very thoroughly, particularly to remove slime from the foot. I think this might be partly at least the mucus operculum, which when dry is a bit like sellophane. I actually cook them in good stock, with weeds in. and then bake them in the oven with butter sauce. There are others ways to cook them of course. There are a few recipes on this Blog, more ideas from you, dear Reader, will be posted too.

8.6.9 Today I received an email, via this blogsite, from New Zealand. I am asked to do a live interview for Radio New Zealand. This will be live on Friday 19th June, 8.30 NZ time.
Immediately I searched the web to find out if Helix aspersa are found there. They are, as an introduced species, presumably brought there for food. It’s interesting that a food species had colonised a large part of the world, whereas those humans have no interest in stay where they started (evolved). It’s seems ironic that a creature increases it’s range and numbers by being a popular food! I’m not sure if they are a pest in New Zealand, I expect I shall find out!
I also found another interesting website, from the US Departmentof Agriculture. It’s about raising snails commercially for food. It’s also got good information on their biology. It suggests at least 2 inches depth of damp soil, with plenty of organic matter is necessary for egg laying.
Winter hibernation: they can bury themselves up to a foot deep.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mouse attack

25.5.9 Mouse attack!
There are two little breeding setups in the greenhouse. I hope they like the extra warmth there. The mice obviously do. The snails are in washing up bowls, covered with old onion bag netting. Morning after morning I was finding holes in the netting, and all the sunflower seeds gone. I put two live mouse traps near the bowls. I caught a healthy looking woodmouse three days running. Each day, wondering if the same mouse was returning, I took it further away. Then there were less, but still the odd one had been there, bitten through the netting and eating the seeds without being caught in the traps.


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