October is black walnut-gathering time in the Ozarks. If you don’t live in the area or have never done it, this is where black walnut pieces come from that you find in the store.
Black walnut trees shed their nuts plentifully in October. They sort of look like green tennis balls (without the fuzz,) because the nuts are enclosed in fiber and hard pulp to protect them. Since they drop indiscriminately all over the ground, they must be picked up and bagged (not my favorite part.)
Nut-gathering tools are available to buy, but we do it the old-fashioned way; we bend over and pick them up, tossing them into large piles so the nuts can be shoveled into buckets, then dumped in a bag. Once you get the nuts all bagged and loaded into your pick-up truck, van, or other nut conveyance, they can be hauled to the nut buyer. This is the fun part.
You back up to the nut hulling machine. You pour your nuts into the bin, then the nuts are carried up a conveyor and dumped into the mid-section of the machine that somehow peels off the outer covering. The shredded coverings travel up one conveyor that dumps them into a waiting dumpster/trailer.
The peeled nuts travel into a separate section that moves them into a holding tank, which lets them drop into bags on a scale. The scale shows the weight of all your bags, then the machine is switched off while you get paid, until the next person dumps their nuts. They pour their bags into the machine, and the whole process starts again.
The place we go to is near the people’s home who run the nut machine. They have some dogs who supervise the process and keep tabs on all drivers. The dogs are very business-like, taking their duties seriously.
It’s quite a long season when you have to watch every day and make sure all goes as it should.
I imagine the dogs are pretty glad when October is done. Then they can catch up on their rest.