2002.12.18 Pickled possum pelt

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

POSSUM FUR. It’s the hair of the future and it’s coming your way courtesy of the possum harvesters of New Zealand.

When New Zealanders talk about the possum, they aren’t seeing the opossum that we know here. They’re talking about a smaller, distant cousin known as the brush-tailed possum.

This invader was introduced to the country from Australia in 1837. The population has  grown and grown until it’s said to be eating its way through New Zealand, gobbling up everything from saplings to bird eggs.

One source estimates that possums consume 21,000 tons of plant material every night. They’re destroying forests. They’re destroying the habitat of many native species. And consequently, they’re being turned into pelts—either raw, air-dried, pickled or crust.

The possum problem is causing quite a dilemma for wildlife campaigners. Do they speak out against the slaughter of the possum or do they support the protection of the native forests?

For some, the compromise position is that there are better ways to handle the problem than by trapping or dropping poison from helicopters. Possum contraception is suggested, however that gets accomplished.

NOT EVERYONE wants the dreaded “Australian possum” eradicated. Some people are making a good living off the pests.

Enter Eco-Fur from the New Zealand Nature Company, a firm that has “just begun processing this abundant resource.” Some people might have trouble combining “ecology” with “fur,” but that’s an indication of the severity of the problem.

A good size brush-tailed pelt measures at least 20 inches by nine inches. Firsts and seconds get used for garments, such as coats. Thirds and fourths go for smaller items, such as cuff trims and toys.

A quality pelt shows little damage, but it can be a rough life in the wilds. Fighting, mating, accidents, sickness—there are plenty of ways to ruin a good coat.

Colors are described as ranging from redneck and rusty to greys and dark browns. Some are grey with a reddish underfur. Some have yellowish flanks and creamy pink bellies.

Possum fur is soft, lightweight and seven percent warmer than wool. It’s right up there with polar bear fur for warmth. It’s described as a luxurious fur that nearly everyone can afford. What can you do with a good possum pelt? Read on.

A NEW Zealand gift company uses the slogan: “Possum–more than just roadkill.” The company offers Davy Crockett hats (the symbol of rugged individualism) with an extremely full bushy tail.

Bedspreads, blankets, blended socks and sweaters, bush hats, gloves, scarves and hot water bottle covers. That last item might need some marketing help, and it’s offered: “Life doesn't get more luxurious than snuggling up with a super soft possum fur lined hot water bottle. The sturdy dome closure makes inserting your hotty easy. Sometimes it is easy to have the best.”

For your cat, there are possum fur balls filled with catnip and rice. For the kids, there’s an Eric the Possum hand puppet and a Tartan Teddy Bear. For your friends in the Orient, where it’s said to be prized as an aphrodisiac, there’s possum meat.

The possum fur people say they’re constantly exploring new uses, and to prove their point, there’s also the possum fur G-string. “Soft and cuddly like mink, they make a wonderful novelty gift that will be talked about forever more. Made with Eco-Fur from the brushtail possum.” Black or natural red.

We haven’t talked money yet. The G-string (one size fits all) can be purchased for 6.39 dinars in Iraq, 97,565 afghanis in Afghanistan, 100,646 kwatcha in Zambia or 316,110.58 dong in Vietnam.

That’s $20.54 in U.S. dollars, or they’ll call it even for .06 ounces of gold. Don’t delay. The Christmas shopping season is scurrying past, just like a possum in the night.

    – Dec. 18, 2002 
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016