Thursday, October 14, 2010

Black Walnut picking time

October in Missouri means it's time to start picking black walnuts! There is nothing quite like the distinctive aroma of walnuts that only gets stronger as the load gets bigger and permates the air at the hulling station. Though seldom a real moneymaker, picking walnuts is a way to get outdoors, spend time with my daughter, and enjoy the cool fall air. Better yet, this annual tradition from the farm transfers easily to the city. There are more landowners to deal with, but some will even pay me to pick up the walnuts.

I bought a "nut wizard" this year to make the job go faster and keep my hands cleaner. I have to say, it works slick as snot!!! For the most part the nuts slip right in the basket. I have nuts pop in that surprise me because I didn't even see them, it works so good. When the basket is full, the nuts will drop right out in a bucket with the supplied wire do-dad. Three to four basket fulls fills a bucket. When I have two buckets full, it is then dumped in my trailer.

The basket appears to be stainless with a quality solid wood handle. The only issues I've had are in tall grass (about eight inches or higher) and the ones with hulls flattened by cars into a disk shape. It will still pick up the hulled nuts, so I kick the disks till the hull falls off. Tall grass is still a hand pick job though. I'm rating this a 9.8 out of 10 on my initial review.

My daughter's favorite part is removing the wire do-dad from the buckets and moving walnuts back and forth between the two buckets. Thankfully, she is a great sport, loves tagging along with dad, stays in sight, and even picks up a couple walnuts now and then.

I'm also attempting a mobile buyer operation. The big downside of selling at the hullers is the wait time is often an hour or two. I don't mind as I bring a book with me to read. However, I imagine there are lots of people who have better things to do with the time, especially if they have a small volume to sell.


I am quite excited the the Springfield city council voted last week to allow chickens inside city limits. I have been researching plans for coops and will be posting pictures of the build when it happens.

I am looking for a design that will allow the chickens access to grass, but allow them to roost in a more secure area to keep away from the neighborhood cats, snakes, and raccoons. I'll also plan to start with pullets to minimize predator worries and wait until next year to start from day olds or eggs. I can't wait to see the look on my daughters face to be around little balls of fluff!

not in vain time used

My wife and I have been struggling for the last several weeks on a decision. Through unexpected events and also errors on my part, it has become no longer feasible to rehab the house where my garden is located and we will attempt to sell it as is. The unfortunate consequence is that I will loose my garden space for a time.

The good news is we have also decided it is in the best interest of the family to move to a location more conducive to critters, gardens, raising children, and peace of mind. Our goal is to locate this slice of heaven by fall of 2011. In the meantime, I will continue to devour any literature I can get, do my market research, attend trade shows (18th National Small Farm Trade Show & Conference is less than a month away!!!), and get any hands on experience I can. Ron Macher and Joel Salatin have been particularly inspirational and I can not recommend their literature highly enough for those aspiring to a sustainable and profitable agricultural enterprise.

It is difficult for me to take this action, however, I realize it is the most expedient path towards getting a chance to pursue my true vision. Bear with me as I enter a pupate stage of ideas and planning to emerge as the butterfly of inspiration!