Hey! Money does grow on trees! Especially if it’s Black Walnuts.
We’ve got a lot of black walnut trees on our property. There’s a bigg’un right on the edge of the lawn, and this year it was chocked full of nuts.
Don’t know much about black walnuts? Lemme tell ya…
It takes a lot of work to open black walnuts. The nuts have an outer hull that starts out green, and quickly turns into a black gooey mess. Inside the hull is the walnut shell, and inside that shell is the nut meat.
Black walnut shells are incredibly tough and difficult to crack. No normal nutcracker is going to do the job – you’ve got to use a vise, or run them over with a truck like the old timers did. The nut meat is really delicious. But black walnuts will stain your hands for weeks – so you better use gloves when handling them!
I spent a couple of afternoons collecting walnuts that had fallen in the yard, intending to sell them on the black (walnut) market.
Packed them in the pickup on top of a big tarp.
We drove out to a place near Harrodsburg to sell the walnuts. I expected it to be a big farm, but in fact it was a mechanic’s garage.
Caleb Esh is the mechanic with a nutty side business – he buys and hulls black walnuts. We backed the truck up to the hopper of his hulling machine – a monstrous contraption with lots of dangerous moving parts that you don’t want to get your fingers near.
A conveyer lifted the walnuts into the machine. With a terrific growl, the machine ground off the green hulls and neatly deposited the nuts into a mesh bag.
Like he’d done it a time or two before, Caleb hefted the bags onto a scale, then stacked them on a pallet for shipping to a processor in Missouri. I don’t know what they’re used for. Food? Furniture stain? The shells are so hard they are a polishing grit.
All totaled, we had 50 lbs. of hulled walnuts. At 18 cents per pound, that netted a whopping $9.00. Caleb wrote a check.
Really, I was pleased with my $9 check. It’s pretty cool to harvest something that has fallen free in your yard, and without any effort on your part in growing it, you can exchange it for money.
Meanwhile, as I was crowing over our 50 lb. harvest, a family with six kids pulled in with a pickup load that put my puny efforts to shame…
The kids had picked the walnuts and were promised they could keep the money. It’s a great lesson – work hard and get paid. They waited anxiously as their father shoveled nuts into the hopper. Then Caleb announced their total – 250 pounds!
Hey – I didn’t do so bad after all!