September 29, 2016

Nature Called...

Brynwood Needleworks - Hickory Nuts

Nature called...but not in the usual way this term is used. I awoke yesterday to the sun rising over the horizon east of the farm. The skies were clear and it was going to be a beautiful day. Bella and Tag were anxious to get out and have their breakfast, and I took a shower and got dressed. We had plans to meet my aunt and uncle by 9.

My uncle is going to be painting the rooms in our farmhouse (he's a retired painter), so the three of us went to pick up the paint I chose while Sherwin Williams is having their 30% off sale. I was purchasing 15 gallons of Repose Gray and 5 gallons of Ibis White, so I didn't want to miss the discount! We made a few other stops and headed back to the farm to unload the truck, and then we headed our separate ways for the rest of the day.

I took the dogs outside and decided it was much too perfect a day to spend inside. I changed clothes, grabbed a large bucket and went to collect hickory nuts, while the dogs snuffled in the grass and explored our property. There was a nice breeze and the land is beginning to smell like fall. I savored every minute.

Brynwood Needleworks - Hickory Nuts

When my bucket was nearly full, we went back to the house, parked in the sun coming through the open windows in the kitchen, and proceeded to open up the green and brown cases hiding those precious hickory nuts inside.

Bella was more interested in this process than Tag, so she spent most of the time watching me remove the outer husks. I'd open them in a few moves, toss them into a waiting shopping bag on my left and with the other hand, place the moist nuts into a bowl on my right.

Brynwood Needleworks - Hickory Nuts

As I went through these motions, I let my mind wander. The clean, nutty/almost citrusy/earthy fragrance of the outer husks wafted up as the autumn sun warmed my shoulders.

I thought how much Mom would have enjoyed watching me as I worked. Sis told me that she remembered shelling hickory nuts with her grandmother when she was a young girl, and how she loved the taste of them.

I thought about the pioneer women who would have performed this same act as they harvested the bounty the land provided for them. As I collected the nuts from our trees, I noticed that we also have small, sweet, wild grapes growing in the same hedgerow. (I'll remember those for next year!)

Brynwood Needleworks - Hickory Nuts

Sis told me that after the still moist nuts are removed from the outer husks, they used to lay them out on trays to dry. This allows the shells to harden. No need to bake them. Just let them harden so the shells can be stored to crack later.

My bucket yielded nearly seven pints of whole nuts. Friends have shared their favorite family recipes with me that will used the nut meats. I'm looking forward to trying the cookie and cake recipes that have been sent to me, and sharing them with my family.


There was only one sad note to this otherwise perfect day. Handsome and I have been watching the resident red squirrels as they prepare for winter. One particular squirrel has amused us as he'd run across the yard, stick his nose into the grass - and his butt in the air - to bury nuts he'd shelled under the largest hickory tree. He liked to run across the end of our road between the hickory trees and the pear tree in our south tree line. I mentioned earlier in the week that I figured I'd be competing with him to collect my own harvest.

Sadly, as I drove out to meet my aunt and uncle, I found him on the road just past our driveway. He wasn't there when I came home last night, and there were only a few cars that came down to the end of our road to the farm late yesterday. Someone must have accidentally hit him on their way in or out. I stopped the car, actually said how sorry I was that he was gone, picked him up, and gently placed his body into the tall grass on the side of the road.

I haven't seen the other squirrels at all since. I'm hoping that they'll be back to entertain us, and collect the hickory nuts that are still clinging to the high branches of the trees....and I hope they steer clear of the road. I'd much rather enjoy their antics.
 
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2 friends clicked here to leave a note for me:

laurajane said...

I love the way you write Donna,straight from your heart.i love your love for life and well being.I was in the kitchen with you for a while there,helping you shell nuts.
When you put pen to paper and write your book I'm first in line for a signed copy.
Sad your little squirrel Nutkin got knocked over I hope he went quick without pain.I am waiting very patiently for pictures of the farm house.
See you tomorrow dear friend.x

Createology said...

I believe you are truly meant to be doing exactly what you are doing and exactly where you are at Hiickory Hill Farrm. We have gorgeous gray squirrels here and it always makes me sad to see them on the roads with their little paws held skyward. Thankfully you have an uncle who is a painter. I purchased another gallon of basic Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee white yesterday and with my discount it was $50 plus change so I can understand you getting your paint with 30% discount. I can honestly say I have not eaten Hickory nuts. I have tasted roasted Chestnuts at our Victorian Christmas events. Fresh and Warm...Fall Colors are Calling...

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