I do not know how many black walnut trees I have in and around my yard, at least a half dozen maybe a couple of more. Too many this time of year. I know having one is too many. Worse, this appears to be a banner year for walnuts.
“Deez nuts”, big ole bull testicle sized fruit lurking in the grass, just waiting to cause an ankle turn or if there is a breeze, just waiting to drop from the heavens like a World War Two Dam Buster bomb. Thump, thump, thump. “Lawd hep you if you are under one of them.”
I’m watching one of my squirrels trying to carry one. He is funny, he can’t get the walnut through the chain link fence. Okay, he’s figured it out and is up and over. They can only carry them one at a time but they are carrying them with a frenzy. Every squirrel frequenting my bird feeders could work from now until all the cows come home and I’d still be tripping over walnuts.
Black walnuts have already shredded two hot houses forcing me to cut polymer sheeting to protect my bride’s tender plants. Judging from the nuts still hanging from the trees, I’ll probably be cutting more. Gazing heavenward I wondered if I was beating a dead mule or whether I should head inside for the old football helmet to protect my head.
Walnuts are not pretty trees. Walnut trees produce wonderful milled lumber, pretty on the inside, not on the outside. Sounds like the description of a blind date I once had. “Well old son, she don’t sweat much and she’s got a great personality.”
When my bride and I renovated our farmhouse, we used black walnut and pecan that came from the property after a run in with a tornado. Still…I periodically check the counter tops to make sure there are not black walnuts being produced.
The trees themselves are the last to put on their leaves in the spring and the first to shed in the fall. They don’t shed single leaves but rather they shed entire “fans” of leaves. Thin, twiggy shoots that clog gutters and defy leaf rakes and blowers and stain the green metal roof black. No beautiful leaf colors unless you like brown. Left to me I would cut them all down…but of course, it isn’t left to me.
I am in the process of picking up the bull nuts…I mean walnuts. Big green pods…maybe Jolly Green Giant nuts are a better descriptor? Big green pods turning black, the size of a cue ball. You look at them and think, “Boy that’s a big nut with plenty of seed.”
Big nut? No, that is the outer covering, the husk. The husk is pungently acrid, turns your hands brownish black, and when striped away reveals a small, brown, hard, and corrugated nut. The actual nut is about the size of a human…no, not a good descriptor.
I should alert you; the easiest labor is picking them up. Getting the husk off to reveal the nut is messy. You will discover the nut itself is so hard it will withstand a hundred megaton nuclear strike. All nuclear bunkers should be armored with black walnuts. Okay, just a bit of an embellishment but when someone uses the descriptor that someone “is a hard nut to crack” they were talking about black walnuts. They are nothing like their thin skinned cousin, the English walnut.
An anvil and a five-pound sledge? Crush them with a vice? Bagging them in a croaker sack and running over them with a car? Dropping them from the International Space Station? So much work for so little reward. Impossible to get the nut out whole.
Oh, but black walnut cookies are so tasty you say…and black walnut pie, or black walnut pound cake. Sorry, I will take peanut butter cookies, pecan pie, and plain pound cake…or go to the grocery store and buy English walnuts for the banana-nut bread.
I guess good things take an effort. I remember black walnuts spread out in my grandmother’s old crib drying, the green husks turning black and shriveling like scrotums in cold weather…shriveling, not turning black…unless you are Black of course.
I remember my grandfather’s anvil and ball and peen hammer in use before Thanksgiving and Christmas…I just do not remember the desserts created from them. My grandmother was not known for her desserts it would seem. Pounds and pounds of nuts to get a handful of meat. A lot of hard work invested for low reward.
I am not even close to getting them all off the ground and have already filled one garden trailer and begun my second load. I wonder if I can give them away for Christmas gifts. Here Bro, here is your croaker sack filled with black walnuts…”What, you expected me to crack them. I love you but I love no one that much.” “Wait…you can sell them for fifteen smackaroos per pound shelled? Still not worth it. I’ll give them away whole.”
Well, it is breezy and a bit wet so for my own well being I will not venture out today to the black walnuts. It already sounds like boulders are being thrown on to our metal roof. Tomorrow could be a long day. Bull Nuts!!!!
Don Miller’s author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR1DzBqVKFYXlRQRirpJrr5VAdCV9O8YZto-krRTOrnbHNm1h9UWk85RPH8
Featured image of the squirrel on a chain link fence is from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/199002877267587450/?nic_v2=1a3SbW1kc