GREENSBURG – Saturday’s sixth annual Wenning Shrimp Harvest was a mix of ample mud, fun in the sun, and soggy crustaceans being prepared for the dinner table.
And if the laughter and smiles of the many mire-covered kids in attendance were any indication, the guests at the farm of Roger Wenning most certainly wouldn’t have had it any other way.
The sixth iteration of the Wennings’ shrimp harvest saw approximately 10,000 prawn drained from their man-made pond home before being readied for the recipe book. The half-acre body of water created to house the delectable Dendrobrianchiata began the draining process early Saturday morning. The loss of their freshwater home forced the shrimp into a pipe where they were collected from a basin, placed in a freshwater pool in order to remove excess mud, and finally brought to an end in chilled water.
Attendees were then able to purchase one-pound bags of the shrimp for $10 each. Recipe sheets were also given out to those who came with the intention of preparing the prawn for a future feast.
Nick Wenning told the Daily News the project began six years ago when he visited a shrimp distributor in Kentucky. Since then, Wenning has purchased 10,000 of the creatures each year and raised them in a pond on the family farm. The undertaking has been a passion project, of sorts, for Wenning, who checks the crustaceans twice each day from the moment they’re brought to the farm until the morning the pond is drained. Wenning said the shrimp will die in water that falls below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and they must be regularly fed. Additionally, the water requires adjustments in its Oxygen and Ph levels during the summer.
“It’s definitely not as simple as ‘throw ‘em in and go,’” Nick Wenning said. “You have to monitor them constantly.”
The success and failure of the shrimp sale appears to hinge on the mood of Mother Nature as much as it does consistent observation, as Wenning noted an entire harvest was lost one year. Conversely, the largest harvest thus far produced approximately 400 pounds of prawn.
Said shrimp contain no iodine due to being raised in freshwater, Wenning said. They are also lower in cholesterol than varieties of shrimp purchased from the supermarket. Wenning and friends told the Daily News the shrimp have a “dense, meaty texture” that brings a different taste than their store-bought counterparts. They added the shrimp may be prepared in numerous ways and unused shrimp may be stored in a freezer for a long period of time.
Going into the business of shrimp production was an endeavor Nick has had to learn “on the job,” for the most part.
“I didn’t know anything about it,” Wenning reflected Saturday. “I talked with other growers and decided it was something I wanted to try.”
Wenning said the project has yet to turn a profit in the six years since it began, but financial gains were clearly the furthest thing from the minds of the day’s primary participants: children.
Kids ran and played in the newly-drained mud pit, grabbing for shrimp amid an inky mess crawling with crustaceans and more than a few full-grown frogs.
Even the youngest in attendance seemed to have a great time. Roger Wenning held grandson Travis, one of Nick’s sons, Saturday afternoon, after Roger had spent much of the morning helping collect many of the shrimp as they were washed into a basin from the drained pond.
Roger looked around his farm at the playing children and smiled.
“It’s always fun,” he said. “We have a blast.”
Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056.