Time to Redefine our Lives in Oregon

Archive for the ‘Black Walnut Tree’ Category

Autumn in Oregon

Autumn, in Oregon, is my favorite time of year!!  There is a crispness to the air….but it is not cold; …. the stiff tan and white grasses from the dryness of the summer green up from the beginnings of the return of moisture….but usually does not need to be mowed; …… the wasps and hornets of late summer are less abundant….and start to die off; ….. and the sunrises are truly amazing!!!

September sunrise

September sunrise

As all of us on the west coast know, the long, dry summer of 2015 was one for the record books.  Fire ravaged so much of the terrain in the western states…the damage was enormous.  If you will allow me one quick moment on my soapbox….. I believe that if the Federal and State governments in our great nation would allow more logging and replanting of our forested lands (with extra protections of old growth trees) in turn cleaning up of dead, fire promoting, trees and brush….it makes sense that many of these uncontrolled, massive fires would become more controllable as fire breaks from logging would then exist thus promoting natural breaks from fire advancement, as well as, providing many more jobs in our struggling logging communities!!!  Okay…..back to topic!!

(photo. KGO News)

(photo. KGO News)

On a more personal scale….the damage we see in our forest from lack of water this summer speaks loudly….with that being said, according to our personal weather station, the rainfall we’ve experienced on our land, to this point in the year, is 53.40″.  More than a drop in the bucket!!  However, the rain stopped the first week of June….that’s what hurt us.  The Douglas Firs and other coniferous trees around us have dropped a massive amount of needles….

Fallas 2015

…and look really thinned out.

September 2015 IMG_0687

Also, there are quite a few trees that have died….

September 2015

…..or are showing signs of great stress through dying branches.

September 2015

Our black walnut trees are also feeling the stress of summer.  Take a look at the abundance of walnuts from early fall 2014 ……

Black Walnut Tree 2014

…..now take a look at this year’s crop…..

IMG_0683 IMG_0682 September 2015

….NOTHING!  Either the squirrels are taking what little nuts the trees have produced, or they have left for greener pastures.  I think it’s the latter, as Penni hasn’t performed her beloved, “squirrel run,” for several weeks now.  No wonder she’s been looking a little……

SEPTEMBER 2015

…..lately…haha!  Back to the trees…. One grove of trees that have survived quite well through the summer, and actually show new growth are these little cuties…

SEPTEMBER 2015

….our young Giant Sequoia trees.  We watered them from our well…I guess they are pretty important little trees!!

So, Welcome Fall…..the southern migration of Canadian Geese (here they come California,) ….

September 2015

…. and the beautiful skies full of God’s handiwork!!

September 2015

Thank you for visiting our little Oregon forest today.  Please have a beautiful, first Sunday of fall.

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

P.S….need a puppy fix????  Go to http://explore.org/live-cams/player/great-dane-service-puppies-indoor-puppy-room and watch live as, Service Dog Project, bring in and trains the next generation of mobility / balance Great Dane service dogs.

Breaking Bad – Black Walnuts

I’ve been meaning to update, Harvesting Walunts, for a while now.  To say that removing the nut from the shell has been a lesson in frustration would be an understatement.  OMGoodness!!  Breaking into that black walnut shell is like trying to break into Fort Knox.  For whatever reason….the nutty gem within is highly, highly protected…I mean beyond what seems reasonable….seriously!!

If you think I’m joking, take a look at this……..

Jimminy Crickets….unless you have teeth like a squirrel, or jaw strength like a Great Dane (more about that below)…I’m not entirely sure we were meant to actually eat these nuts.  I mean think about it…if you were reliant on the calories and nutrition that black walnuts can provide, by the time you broke open enough for a handful size serving, you would have expended more calories than the walnut provides.  There’s got to be a better way than my finite mind can fathom.

The results of about 45 minutes of effort resulted in this…..

Black Walnuts 2014

The 2nd clue that this was not going to be an easy process. See all those dents in the wood…those are walnut shell impressions from banging it with a hammer!!

Black Walnuts 2014

The black walnut’s chamber of secrets!!  It’s a matter of digging out small pieces of nut.

Black Walnuts 2014

My question is, “Why is the meat of these walnuts so protected?”  Look at the damage to the wooden board that trying to break into this shell has caused.  Is it worth the effort to gather those small pieces of nut?

Black Walnuts 2014

The comparison of nut to shell.  This is the result of shelling four black walnuts.  The nut is sweet, and very…nutty.  Quite good, actually, but I think next year…I’ll probably just leave all of them for the squirrels.  Obviously, they are more equipped to eat these nuts than I am!!

Now, if I can just invent a tool that breaks the shell as efficiently as this girl…maybe I’ll harvest more this coming fall….

In all likelihood, I think I’m sticking with the good old English Walnut…look at the difference three nuts yield, besides that, there’s no danger of being impaled by flying walnut shells!!

English Walnuts

English Walnuts

Black Walnuts

Quite the difference!!  I don’t think I’ll be harvesting many black walnuts in the near future.

Thanks for visiting the farm today.  I hope you have a wonderful Sunday!!!

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

 

 

 

Harvesting Walnuts

I cannot believe how many walnuts have fallen this year. In one certain area you cant’ walk without a squish….and an uncertain wiggle due to the hard nut that follows the squish. As I stated in my last post, we decided to try and harvest some actual nuts this year. The process is messy, and takes a bit of time to get the nut out of its casing…I hope the results are worth it…either way, it has been a fun project so far.

Walnuts 2014

My friend, Jill, told me how she used to harvest walnuts as a kid…I decided to try it…

Walnuts 2014

…with just a couple twists of the foot, the husks came right off! Collecting the husks in one container, and the nuts in the other….

Walnuts 2014

…I wished the contents could have been reversed in quantity. But, we had a good amount for the first time harvesting. If this turns out well, harvesting next year will definitely start as soon as the walnuts start falling. There are just so many this year, it would probably take a year to finish the job…at that point, I don’t think we’d want to eat them.

This is what walnut husks will do to your hands.  BTW, this was the second layer of gloves I was wearing.

This is what walnut husks will do to your hands. BTW, this was the second layer of gloves I was wearing.

Next step was to add water….

Walnuts 2014

…at this point they had soaked for about 30 seconds…

Walnuts 2014

…I agitated them around a bit…

Walnuts 2014

…then poured out the wat….I don’t think you can really call that water anymore!!

Walnuts 2014

That’s a pretty good amount for one afternoon!! Like most things, room to breathe, and in this case, dry out, is necessary to prevent mold. The hubby built the drying screen table, which I think is pretty awesome! With a little patience, like 2 or 3 weeks, it will be time to crack open the shells…kind of like an early Christmas!

Walnuts 2014

Not to worry…there are plenty of walnuts left on the ground for our resident squirrels. They should be plenty well-rounded this year.

Also, to my surprise, as we winterized the garden we found a few gems….

Late Fall Beauties 2014

Carrott 2014

…this was one big, beautiful carrot!! I roasted it last night with brussel sprouts, and butternut squash…paired with some toasty garlic bread, it was a so good!

Thank you for visiting the farm today, and thank you even more to those who have served our country. You are all so awesome!!

Your friend in Oregon,
Tami

Walnuts, Walnuts, Everywhere…

My life has been shrouded in the realm of walnuts. My earliest memories include my grandpa sitting after dinner cracking walnuts. Once I had the hand strength to squeeze the metal nut cracker hard enough to break the shell, I would sit next to Gramps, cracking walnuts along with him. After that, I lived most of my adult life in a home with a giant black walnut tree which stood 50 ft. tall, and had a span of branch width of at least that many feet if not 60. It was huge, and provided shelter for squirrels, raccoons, and opossum. I loved that big old tree. I still have walnuts in my life.

Black Walnut Tree 2014

These trees are dropping round, squishy things with a hard pit that threaten to twist your ankle upon a misstep.

Black Walnut Tree 2014

There are five of them, all abundantly dropping as quickly as the leaves are falling.

Black Walnut Tree 2014

They do resemble ornaments hanging in the breeze. I wonder how white twinkling lights would look strewn about the branches?

Black Wlanut Trees

After the last big rain, the trees are more devoid…..

Walnut Trees 2014
Walnut Trees 2014

…but now, the ground is covered. They do make quite the mess.

Dropped Walnuts 2014

After talking with a friend about collecting and drying walnuts, my curiosity was ignited. I Googled the process and found some good information. This year, we are going to try our hand at collecting, de-husking, drying, and harvesting the nut from the very hard, thick shell. Black walnuts differ greatly in shell construction than the English variety that are usually sold in grocery stores.

Black Walnut 2014

The shells are harder to crack, and instead of a two chamber contraption, it has four.

One older shell, and a new one that I cracked today showing the wet nut.

One older shell, and a new one that I cracked today showing the wet nut.

I have read that the meat of the black walnut, once dried, has a wonderfully nutty flavor. It is apparently, well worth the effort, and will keep well in the freezer for two years. I hope this works out, and will help cut the costs of enjoying these healthy, meaty nuts.

Thanks for enjoying the farm with me today!

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami

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