Ramble On

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Nuts and Berries

You know animals don’t worry
They’re living on nuts and berries…

Back in August, during the bike race, Mary and I took a short walk over at the Stanley recreation park. Like much of Page County, there are a lot of black walnut trees there – we even have a few around the Cabin. The trees appear to be the residuals from old nut orchards. Here is a picture of one of the trees, including a flock of geese overhead, and a handful of nuts I gathered off of the ground.

Last year, there was one of those historical pieces in the paper, talking about the old days, when the walnut harvest came around. The older kids were responsible for gathering the nuts. A brown dye was made from the sticky husks that cover the shell, and of course, the nuts were used for food. The story went on to reminisce about how all the kids would come to school with hands stained from the resin.
Flash forward to the present. Last week as I was driving into town on Ida Road, a nut fell off a tree and hit the car on the hood. I now have a nice ding, like you might also get from a hail storm, to show for my weekend activities.
Now we’re getting into fall, and the other nut trees are also dropping their fruit. We have a couple of different kinds of hickories scattered around the yard at Hawksbill Cabin – the nuts are everywhere, and you often can spot squirrels high up in the branches working them over for the fruit.
We also have a grove of white oaks in the front.
Their acorns are the big feed for all the wildlife, including blue jays – up in the trees, and on the ground – squirrels, and deer. There’s also a newcomer in the group, a bunny, but it stays in the backyard, where there is one very fertile oak, which the bunny apparently has to itself.

Speaking of the deer, our local herd has grown. There is an older doe with a fawn, and three or four other young deer, including yearlings from last year. The fawn has just grown out of its spots. I’ve also spotted a four-point buck wandering around with them. As I write this Friday night, four of them are grazing in the yard just below me. The buck is absent right now but was here earlier today.
The hickories and dogwoods are the first leaf changers in our yard. The dogwoods have their show on right now, while the walnuts have already lost many of their golden leaves. I’ve noticed there are a lot of dogwood berries this year – more than in our previous years here. There is also a large flock of robins, maybe as many as fifty birds, working these trees over. They’re not as noisy as the blue jays are, but they make a racket when they come to feed.

…They say they don’t need money
They’re living on nuts and berries
-Talking Heads, Animals

6 comments:

Howard said...

Looks like we're in for a banner year for black walnuts! Extra caution is needed while walking around our yard to avoid what looks like "Nature's driving range."

I picked up a solid 10 or 15 lbs this morning.

Jim said...

I need a tip on this. Do you just pick them up, clean the husk, and shell them?

Also, you should see the ding one of these put on my car Sunday. Randomly fell on me at a stop sign!

Howard said...

Personally, we pick them up green, store them in a cool, dry place until they dry out and turn dark brown to almost black. At this point, they are easier to de-husk and work with. From there you can shell and eat/use raw or even roast them up. Far too many just laying around on the ground to let go to waste. I bet one could really leave a nice ding in a car hood! We always fear being thumped on the head by one while out wandering the woods!

Brian McGowan said...

Jim:

Have you ever made "acorn flour" (and I am being serious for a change)? It's kind of a drawn out process, but supposed to make nice "pancakes" and such.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFEGOqj5xbs

or

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRcrMDJW118

The local Miwok Indians supposedly lived off of acorn bread and such.

Jim said...

I'll mention both projects to Mary, our household's resident skeptic when it comes to my big idears.

Anonymous said...

banner year for acorns too. Come on over and gather em up from our deck. Which by the way, if you sit on the deck for a while, the squirrels will start throwing the shells at you. No kidding. Nancy