When I moved to the Sonoran Desert, I learned about mesquite pods. I knew about the mesquite wood used for barbequing, but not the seed pods of the tree. They’re used as food by both people and animals. The mature pods, not just the seeds, are ground into flour, which is quite delicious. A five-gallon bucket will produce about a pound of flour.
Many animals eat the pods: doves, quail, ravens, bighorn sheep, rabbits, ground squirrels, rats, mice and coyotes. In fact, if you find canine droppings on your property and you wonder if it was left by an irresponsible neighbor, look for the pods. If pods are present, it was left by a coyote, not a dog.
However, mesquite pods are not good for all animals. Horses find their sweet taste irresistible but eating too many of them can lead to colic. The beans impact the stomach or intestines, which can lead to surgery or the death of the horse.
When the pods ripen, the trees fling them about, carpeting the ground.
Unfortunately, some pods land in the areas designated for horses, like this round pen. My horses eagerly head for the round pen in the hopes of finding pods. My task before they arrive is to remove the pods not only within the pen but also within reach of those long necks and agile lips.
Is it fair for me to enjoy something I deprive my horses of? Yup. I enjoy their company and want them with me for as long as possible. Mesquite pods, be gone!
Book Note: The Sonoran Desert is a wild and beautiful place. I have written several books set in this extraordinary place. Please visit my Sonoran Desert Books tab for more information.