may have heard this corny little joke. I remember my Dad telling
it to me as a barefoot country kid in NE Texas. It goes like this:
"Did you ever see a cat fish?" Why, of course Dad, I have seen a
catfish! I saw a big catfish my Uncle Frank Fed caught down on Cypress
Bayou. Dad's reply was, "Then since you have seen a cat fish, how
did he hold his pole?" Well, he got me on that one!
Country humor in deed, it was. But it keenly brings to mind my problem
and perhaps yours, right here today; right out in our front yard,
and back yard, too. That pesky, obnoxious little creep called a
crawfish. Perhaps known by some of us as a craw-dad, mud-bug or
cray-fish. By whatever name you call that pest, those critters cause
me a problem and are a genuine nuisance. They really like the tight
clay-base soil found around Conroe and Montgomery County. You never
see them in sandy loamy soil.
While the ground is wet, which is what they like, they will push
up those awful muddy little mounds all over the yard. If you stumble
over or step on one while it is wet and muddy, you will then have
your shoes to clean. Later on, during a dry spell, those little
mounds are sticking up everywhere. They become sun baked like a
West Texas mud brick, making a hard glob of dirt to stumble over.
You may even sprain your ankle or break a leg if you are not careful.
Or while doing yard work, you then hit those crusty mounds with
the lawn mower and it splatters dirt and dust everywhere. Not to
mention damage to your mower engine or blade and having to resharpen
it frequently. Also, I have noticed more and more people wearing
the little white nose and mouth air filters while mowing. And wisely
so! A good idea!
I know! I know! All you folk that hire a professional yard service
to meticulously maintain your lavishly manicured lawns just don't
have to experience all these problems. You may never know just what
you miss. Think of the exercise, the stimulation, therapy and sheer
pleasure of working the soil. Oh! The joys of it all!
Rest assured your yard boy knows all the problems caused by these
subterranean, backward crawling, crustaceans that resemble a miniature
lobster. They are forever what are known to me as "a thorn in the
flesh." I could easily live without.
We experience plenty these things every year, but this year crawfish
seem to be much more prolific than previous years. Perhaps because
we have had some long rainy, wet spells that make a very favorable
environment for them to multiply.
I know there are a lot of people around that just love to eat crawfish
and would drive many miles to get a mess of them. Some of my relatives
in Louisiana are among those. For years and years I think they survived
off crawfish pie, black eyed peas and fried corn pone. Now days
we find this highly prized delicacy alive and squirming in super
market tubs everywhere. There is a big demand for them. Crawfish
festivals too, are a big event all over. Those are very popular
and great fundraisers for many local economies.
Seldom have I ever eaten ANY crawfish, especially the whole, unaltered
variety. I just can't develop the first requirement, a solid, unsqueamish
stomach. I will eat the crawfish tails separated and prepared like
shrimp tails, boiled or usually battered and deep-fried. Even then,
I do prefer that they are cultivated and farm raised, not from my
back yard or some roadside ditch. I do believe that most crawfish
we see these days are farm raised and "civilized."
My calico cat and other cats in our neighborhood seem to be, at
least, a partial solution to the crawfish problem. I am happy about
the service they perform.
morning as I walk out my driveway to pick up the morning newspaper,
I can see several little crawfish heads along the edge of the driveway.
During the night, cats have caught and eaten all but the crawfish
heads. Being the most crusted shell part they won’t eat, it is left
on the driveway.
I would love to witness a cat grabbing the crawfish from the hole
and eating it. But I never have seen that happen. Cats "fish" late
at night while sitting quietly near the crawfish hole waiting for
that mudbug to surface. When it does, they quickly grab it and have
fresh fish for a midnight snack.
Some folk say
mothballs will help in getting rid of crawfish. They say just drop
one in the open hole and that should knock him out. But I'm not
so sure. I've tried it several times and I really can't miss a one
of those “suckers” out there. Maybe two or three others come back
and resurface for every one you kill. But I surely hope not. “What
I see a crawfish “skull” on our driveway, I just say praise God
there is one less dirt mound (crawfish hill) in my yard I will not
have to continually deal with.
Best of all
though, they are helping feed the cats. That is, the cats that are
energetic and ambitious enough to get off their “duff” and fish
for a meal.
I think I'll
keep my calico cat. She is really a good angler and I may get two
or three more just like her.
Now tell me,
have you ever seen a cat fish?
© N. Ray Maxie
March 3, 2008 Column
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