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PostPosted: Oct 23rd, '16, 02:30 
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I am planning out my system and hoping someone else has tried one of the two possible native crayfish (Crawdad is the term many in Montana use) in my region. As of this year Two species of crays are in the area, the Virile Crayfish and the Signal Crayfish. Technically Neither of these species are native to the regioin but they are both naturalizing. Many streams and rivers here have no native crays at all. The signal crayfish wins the grow out size comp by about an inch but the Virile cray is more common.

I would love to pick someones brain to help me start up. However if no one is doing this I will be posting about my own experiences to maybe help others in the future.


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PostPosted: Oct 23rd, '16, 23:20 
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I'd love to hear of your experience with them as I have not tried them or heard of anyone else trying them but it all depends on what you're going for. Are they for producing the nutrients needed for growing your plants? Or are you raising them alongside fish? I feel like I just commented on another of your posts so I should know the answer to that.

I totally did. Okay, WITH bluegill. I got it now. Are you planning on raising them for food for yourself? I have not heard of eating Virile or Signal crayfish but that doesn't mean you can't. Usually that just means it's not as good as something else. Just tossing in my thoughts. I'd love to see your results! If you're planning on raising them in the same tanks as bluegill you may want to consider separate tanks or separating them somehow as they will eat each other but crayfish are very hostile and territorial and try and grab anything and everything with their claws.

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PostPosted: Oct 24th, '16, 00:34 
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I have cooked both species up on many occasions. My grandmother is from the south where they are eaten often. I learned from her. She had a bunch of cray traps and we used them often in the warm months. Both virile and signals are super tasty provided you purge wild caught. They are a bit harder to get the meat out than the southern crays. The signal is especially good because their claws are often large enough to get a little meat out too. Signals also grow larger. They are one of the largest native crays. Only two others larger i know of. One in the pacific northwest and one in the deep south.

I am thinking of the crays and fish more as bonus protein on occasion as opposed to a steady source hence the other meat animals. Mostly they will feed the plants. If i really want a big cray harvest i will trap wild ones.

On the fence about how to raise them. It will probably depend on what tanks i can source on the cheap. But i will probably house them in the sump.


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PostPosted: Oct 24th, '16, 03:08 
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Okay, now you got me hungry for some crawfish.

I love the idea of crawfish (especially native ones) included into the system. That being said, if you put them in the sump they are apparently master escapists so be sure whatever you put them in they cannot get out. Also, be sure to provide some hides for them for when they molt. Hope it all works out for you!

On a side note, what kind of pigeons are you planning on raising? I've had a heck of a time tracking down any utility breeds.

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PostPosted: Oct 24th, '16, 08:19 
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Pigeon wise the breeds are limited in my area. Mostly racing homers and fancy breeds. I am thinking of starting with homers. I don't want to drop $500 just for eight Kings that i havent seen before but it may come down to it. I am thinking i might interbreed homers and kings to maybe up the squab size and get some hybrid vigor going. Then again homers are cheaper to feed despite smaller squab size so might be worth it to eat two smaller squabs as opposed to one at 12 ounce.

My favorite cray dish is crayfish etouffee. Hands down. Larger crays grilled are amazing too.

I am well aware of their propensity for fleeing. This is one reason i am going for local species. There are enough invasives here. I will not be adding to that problem. I plan to build a cage to sit over the sump to keep them in. Plus cage over the outlets and inlets to keep them from the other tanks.


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PostPosted: Oct 25th, '16, 19:58 
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Yeah, breeds seem to be limited all over. I've looked on several pigeon sites but they get all pissed off and upset when you mention eating them. Closest I've found for kings is a pair for $150 from Strombergs but like you said, I don't want to spend that kind of money on something I haven't seen. Especially since it involves shipping the birds. It seems like everyone and their mother only seem to raise homers or fancy breeds so I may settle as well.

I can't remember if I've ever had etoufee but I typically just eat them boiled up in Cajun spices. The hotter the better.

And it sounds like you know what you're doing so I wish you luck and hope to see your progress!

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PostPosted: Oct 26th, '16, 01:06 
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It is sad that the Livestock conservancy orgs here wont do a thing for utility pigeons. They were a big part of many americans survival during the great depression. I think a lot of it has to do with PETA and probably also the massive pest control industry here.

As far as knowing what i am doing... ha. Hardly. I know about native fish and crays because my family has always been big on wild foods for cheap supplemental food. AP is completely new to me. Hence my deep dive into this forum. I have had gardens for years but they have always been community garden plots. I finally have my own property to do what i wish with. That is huge for me. So time to raise food and continue to gather wild foods. Montana may seem a hard place to find them but it isnt. There are still vast tracts of wild lands here. Despite the long wnters there is an abundance of plants and animals to eat in any season.


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PostPosted: Oct 29th, '16, 13:01 
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squabnrabbit wrote:
It is sad that the Livestock conservancy orgs here wont do a thing for utility pigeons. They were a big part of many americans survival during the great depression. I think a lot of it has to do with PETA and probably also the massive pest control industry here.

As far as knowing what i am doing... ha. Hardly. I know about native fish and crays because my family has always been big on wild foods for cheap supplemental food. AP is completely new to me. Hence my deep dive into this forum. I have had gardens for years but they have always been community garden plots. I finally have my own property to do what i wish with. That is huge for me. So time to raise food and continue to gather wild foods. Montana may seem a hard place to find them but it isnt. There are still vast tracts of wild lands here. Despite the long wnters there is an abundance of plants and animals to eat in any season.


So I basically just said the same thing on another site and it turns out you're on backyardchickens as well, lol. Just opened up this site and saw your name and was like, wait a second. So yeah, I'm CertifiedChaser on that site.

But yeah, I'm all for wild foods. Used to love going out and picking mulberries (still do but for some reason they didn't grow this year). I can't wait to get my own tract of heaven and start really diving into gardening and larger scale aquaponics myself. I have mad respect for anyone trying their hands at not necessarily survival but sustainable living in the cold winters of Montana. Like you say, plenty of plants and animals to enjoy!

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PostPosted: Nov 1st, '16, 06:56 
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In Montana as a kid we harvested about half to three quarters of our winter food supply from the wild. Hucklyberries, snowberries, elderberries, raspberries, thimbleberries, chokecherries. What we couldn't use quick was either frozen or mixed with meat and veg and dried to make Pemican the ultimate trail food. We also would get buckets of morel and other mushrooms. Pine spruce and fir nuts and sap, and first shoots in early spring. Prickly pear tunas and pads are everywhere and so tasty if you are able to get them without getting stuck. Bring a torch if you are collecting them...
Some of my favorite native plants are Camas root and Bitterroot. Amazing if you prepare them right awful if you don't. And Cattails! Such an amazing food source. You can eat everything on a Cattail, it just depends on the season which part of the plant you should take.
We would smoke fish and hunted for elk, deer and antelope.
Now that I am back I will have to go find our family spots again.


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PostPosted: Nov 7th, '16, 04:45 
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squabnrabbit wrote:
In Montana as a kid we harvested about half to three quarters of our winter food supply from the wild. Hucklyberries, snowberries, elderberries, raspberries, thimbleberries, chokecherries. What we couldn't use quick was either frozen or mixed with meat and veg and dried to make Pemican the ultimate trail food. We also would get buckets of morel and other mushrooms. Pine spruce and fir nuts and sap, and first shoots in early spring. Prickly pear tunas and pads are everywhere and so tasty if you are able to get them without getting stuck. Bring a torch if you are collecting them...
Some of my favorite native plants are Camas root and Bitterroot. Amazing if you prepare them right awful if you don't. And Cattails! Such an amazing food source. You can eat everything on a Cattail, it just depends on the season which part of the plant you should take.
We would smoke fish and hunted for elk, deer and antelope.
Now that I am back I will have to go find our family spots again.


That sounds like my dream childhood and how I hope to raise my family though I'm not sure how much longer Mother Nature can provide for us before we destroy it all or make it illegal to do those things. I've had the unfortunate pleasure of experiencing prickly pears not knowing they had spines on them. Those things get everywhere. Do you stick em then roast the spines off?

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PostPosted: Nov 7th, '16, 06:29 
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GoldyGlocks wrote:
That sounds like my dream childhood and how I hope to raise my family though I'm not sure how much longer Mother Nature can provide for us before we destroy it all or make it illegal to do those things. I've had the unfortunate pleasure of experiencing prickly pears not knowing they had spines on them. Those things get everywhere. Do you stick em then roast the spines off?


When harvesting Prickly pear tunas or pads we had leather gloves and a hand held propane torch. Burn the spines off the pads if you are taking the pads for food, otherwise just harvest the tunas with leather gloves. There are still tiny spines on the tunas that you don't want to touch, but a quick boil in water will melt them off.

The locally available Prickly Pear species in my area doesn't have pads that are really worth taking and eating as they are pretty small and the flavor is not much similar to the cultured varieties down south. We mostly just harvested for the tuna.


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