We planted the walnut tree in 2000, complete with ceremony, best clothes and a blessing bestowed by my Dad. It commemorates the day we took over ownership of the farm, a special day for all of us. We thought for a long time about what tree to plant, and decided on walnut because of it’s longevity, productiveness and the fact that my Dad loved walnuts.
We’ve had good and bad crops from the tree over the years. A squirrel visited us one year and scooped the crop just before we were ready to pick, and we’ve had a few years where the crop was just small. About half the time though, the crop has been pretty good for a small tree, and this was one of the good years – 146 nuts. We probably missed a few on the ground, but it was still a pretty good haul. The tree is still a teenager after all.
Knowing when to pick them has been an art slowly acquired – too soon and the green covering is impossible to get off, too late and the nuts are lost in the grass and potentially to the dratted squirrel. We timed it perfectly this year, albeit in the pouring rain (we picked the nuts the same day we picked apples for juicing).
Our read alouds in the evenings during the Christmas holidays will be punctuated by the cracking of nuts as the basket and crackers get passed around, the shrapnel being tossed into the fire. I’m looking forward to it.