Friday, 3 October 2014


That crackle and crunch underfoot is beech mast.
The big beech is aiming missiles at me from a great height,
and when her aim is true, I feel it.

Once in every five to ten years, they say, can we expect such bounty.
Last year was a good one too, so either they are wrong,
or nature is changing her rhythm.
A hot, dry summer helps.

I have need of a pig.
Could you lend me a pig?
Free of charge to both of us?
I have no acorns but plenty of beechnuts.
But do remember to ring the pig’s nose, I don’t want it rooting up my garden.

There was a time, a long-ago time,
when they gave you a voucher for a litre of oil,
in exchange for six kilos of beechnuts.

Diligence can do it,
they said.
All it takes is three days of back breaking work in the forest.
If you have little ones,
and maybe sing a happy song,
collecting six kilos of beechnuts
is child’s play.

Collect more and keep them to enhance your diet.
You want bread?
Cracked and ground into flour,
beechnuts are very tasty, make excellent bread.
But remember,
oxalic acid is harmful,
so roast these pretty little delicacies first
to avoid bad pain in the gut.
And warn the little ones.

A pig, on the other hand,
enjoys a forest meal, no ill-effects at all.
No need for roasting.


  1. I didn't know that rooting was the reason for putting a ring in a pig's nose.


  2. I love your photo - the textures are lovely. Ah for the days of yore and pannage!

  3. Such a lovely request for beechnuts!

    None here, but we do have acorns. The Native Indians collected them in a massive quantities and then ground them in "metates", which were worn bowls in boulders of stone using a stone rolling pin. To get rid of the tannin (stuff that hurts the guts) was a long process that eventually looked like corn meal. That was the big part of their diet.

    I hope you have convinced someone to round up a bunch of kids to go collecting! Love this post!

  4. So THAT's the "beech mast" that's referred to in novels about the English countryside! Hunh! Sharp-looking little things.
    And how does the ring keep the pig from rooting up a garden? Is the pig's nose sensitive to the ring twisting, or something? I know nothing of pigs, except the two-legged ones.

  5. ring a pig's nose? how you like a ring in your nose? not so much, huh? what about the pig? pig's having feelings to you know!

  6. I don't think I've ever seen a beech nut.

  7. One learns something new every day! I just learned about beech nuts! Always heard of them, but never saw a one. Pity about the pig...

  8. We don't have beech nuts so this is all new and interesting to me.

  9. Interesting that you've had a bounty of beechnuts this year. We've had a bounty of acorns. That's supposed to happen every other year, but it hasn't proved to be true. So who knows what nature is up to, eh?

  10. And on this side of the world in the season just gone we had a dearth of acorns. A truly miserable spattering of them.
    Loved see beech nuts. I have read about them for years, and never seen them. Thank you. Education and delight.

  11. No beechnuts here either, but like Susan Kane, we have more than our share of acorns this year (and more than our share of squirrels to go with them). Is there something about the weather that's producing a lot of nuts this year?

  12. No beechnuts here, either. But I do like the tale you tell with your poem.

  13. prachtige foto met heerlijke beschrijving.

  14. No beechnuts here, but plenty of acorns. I have never seen a pig with a ring in its nose. OUCH - There are some pig farms in the area, but the pigs roam free on a part of the farm, only coming indoors for birthing and in the winter. There are a few summer scatter barns about for shelter, but for the most part they are out in the fresh air until ready for market. My friend and I went halves on buying a pig and went to the farm and picked one out - The farmer delivered it to the butcher and the next time I saw it, it was all wrapped up in packages waiting for my freezer. YUMMY. Very nice poem.

  15. I'll love to "pig out" on beech nuts again ... reminds when I was put into a home for under nourished kids in 1963 ... somewhere in the Harz mountains ... and we went for walks ... and ate beech nuts in the woods ... sooo ... I'll gladly be your guinea pig ... smiles ... Love, cat.

  16. I don't believe I've ever seen a beechnut. However: when I was in high school, there was a chewing gum called Beechnut. It came in a bright green wrapper, and Dick Clark, the teen idol dj who hosted American Bandstand, had a contest that involved collecting Beechnut gum wrappers. I have no idea now what the prize was, or if there was one, but I do remember a shoebox filled with wrappers. I think it took me longer than three diligent days to collect them all.

    That mention of oxalic acid stopped me cold. That's the active ingredient in the product I use to get rust off stainless steel when I'm working on boats. Or at home, for that matter. The trusty product called "Barkeeper's Friend" that's so good for stainless steel sinks has 10% oxalic acid. You can use it to bleach water-stained wood, too.

    Maybe I'll stick to walnuts and pecans...

  17. I never knew the why of a pig's nose ring and I didn't know raw beechnuts were poisonous, either. Frankly, I have never seen wild beechnuts. You are a wealth of information today. :)

  18. Such a lovely poem Friko....sent me on a snuffling forage of mind wandering.....Firstly transported to Edward Lear's nonsense rhyme 'The owl and the pussy cat who went to sea in a pea green boat who begged the dear piggy-wig who stood in the wood to sell for one shilling his they could be married ..and he did !!
    Also remember meeting big porkers snouting in the mast of Ashdown Forest Sussex (commoners' rights) a little afraid to pass them at eleven years old!

  19. I was not familiar with beechnuts at all before I read this interesting post. I learned a lot from you today. I don't have a pig to offer you. Sorry.

  20. You see - and share - so much, where others might see little of interest. I fear you have grown wise!

    ALOHA from Honolulu
    =^..^= . <3 . >< } } (°>

  21. What a nice visit to the past. I remember seeing the beechnut trees in Ireland last week and they were fll of nuts.

  22. Leave it to you to educate me as to why a pig's nose is ringed. Thanks for that.

  23. I haven’t seen beechnuts in person but lots of acorns or ginkgo nuts only. Beechnuts are not round but pointed. I understand falling beechnuts are like missiles on you. I like to see deer eating nuts and acorns in Nara Park.


  24. The only beechnuts I've ever been aware of is chewing gum. I never stopped to consider that there was an actual nut.

  25. And that's why pigs are bad for you ;) I've never seen a beechnut before, nut now I'm curious! I wonder if there are any out East? I have some friends there who could send me some if that were the case. Then again, I have several pounds of macadamia nuts that we picked on our honeymoon a year and a half ago that I've yet to do anything at all with. I was cracking the outer shells, getting ready to roast them in their inner shells, but OWW, my hands! I gotta find someone without joint problems to tackle that issue lol

  26. Yummy! Beechnut stuffed pork roast!

  27. Sorry , I don't have a pig to lend you , though I did recently meet a pet pig who had rather blotted his copybook by eating a big chunk of his owner's parquet floor overnight . Perhaps he'd really had a hankering for beech nuts ?

  28. Both picture and words are beautiful.

  29. ha. but eventually maybe we can roast the pig...and savor his inner beechnut flavor...not sure i know the taste of beech nut actually....

  30. People used to collect them here, roast them and ground them to brew a kind of "coffee" from the powder. I've never tasted that, but I know what they taste like raw, and quite like them.

  31. Poor pig. I'll bet he's tasty after a beech nut diet, around here it's chestnuts. They have nasty hulls and tasty flesh.. Some people call them hose chestnuts. Squirrels open them and drop the husks on me. Payback for those squirrel-proof feeders?

  32. Well my daughter and her family have three pigs so the answer could well be to make up a beech nut food parcel and send it to south wales.

  33. I never knew you could roast and eat these nuts! A lovely sign of autumn.

  34. Hi Friko - some fascinating history here along with a lovely visual tale of beechnut lore - now the wind and rain have brought the Autumn to our door - scrunching through the fallen leaves and nuts - lots of conkers we've got, and I did see beech nuts in Malvern this week. Wonderful descriptive telling ... I can smell the earth and damp leaves ... cheers Hilary

  35. Just dropped by to see how things were, and happy to note that you're humming along as usual. Hope Millie is recovering and that your gardener is becoming a little happier. Deborah

  36. I had never seen beechnuts before but had a real missiles here all summer.

  37. It's ages ago that I haven't seen a beechnut, and have completely forgotten how they taste ! I remember as a child we had lots around where my grandparents lived. I suggest you get a mini pig, one which you can walk like a dog too, lol !

  38. It's been a bumper year for beech mast here, too, but sadly no pigs or squirrels to eat them. What a waste!

  39. I never knew you could actually eat beech nuts. But now I have learned they can be roasted. Interesting. ANd now you mention it, perhaps I do remember reading that in hard times people do just this. I wonder what the bread tastes like....


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