This week, it took no time at all to uncover a story that needed to be told in Acadia Parish.
That story belongs to Monica Miller. You may not have heard of her but chances are your life has been impacted by her family.
The Millers, according to Monica, were one of the first crawfish farmers in southwest Louisiana.
Crawfish, the staple that can bring all Cajuns together. As you would imagine, the farming of the insect-like crustaceans has fairly humble beginnings.
“In the process of farming and doing rice,” says Miller. “he noticed these little critters crawling around and decided to set a trap.”
Monica’s father, whose parents were German immigrants, returned to Roberts Cove after serving time in the Navy.
“Having to learn to use everything and not waste anything, they decided to see if the crawfish was something they could use to eat.”
The boom of crawfish farming got going in the 1960s, and while the family may not have acres of ponds anymore, crawfishing is certainly still part of the family trade.
“My dad was like, ‘you need a trap,’ and they didn’t know how to make the traps so my dad had to make them,” says Monica. “That’s how my dad started doing the traps and selling them.”
After their father passed away, the space where he built his traps sat empty.
“He was the one who got me started and it was hard to get back into it and one day a friend said you’ve got to move on,” says Hillary, Monica’s brother. “Fifteen years later, and I’m still fooling with it.”
Now Monica and Hillary both assemble traps, slicing the wire, bolting on the tops, and getting the entrance just right to bring the crawfish in.
All of the work is done by hand. Even on the days when Monica may not feel like working.
“I feel like my dad is on my should telling me I have to do it, I have to carry on the family legacy,” she says.
And chances are you’ve seen the tops of their traps driving along any of the roads around Acadia Parish. And as the crawfish industry continues to grow, the legacies of these early farmers and crawfish pioneers will grow along with it.
“The crawfish industry has grown so much from the time my dad passed away,” says Hillary. “If he was to see it today he wouldn’t believe.”