Sunday, November 1, 2009

Harvest Time 2009

--- Nathan and his very bright grandfather.
Photographer: Duncan Simmons ---

Last weekend, the first batch of friends and warriors came up to the Dipper Ranch to harvest English walnuts. A good time was had by all and then we had jello. No, wait, this is California. We grooved on the yellow fall light behind the red barn as we plunked the walnuts into buckets, bags, t-shirts and wheelbarrows and sang. No, just I sang and just inside my head because I was so happy to share that plunk-plunk sound.

We had several novitiates. I carefully explained the technique: pick up the brown-shelled ones and put them in the wheelbarrow. Don't pick up the other ones because the green husk will turn your hands black. Soon the wheelbarrow was full and everyone was giddy with walnut greed.

--- Walnut from 2009 harvest on left; 2008 walnut on right. ---

Last year, the walnut harvest inspired me to start the Dipper Ranch Blog. The Dipper Ranch Blog is now officially one year old. Happy Blog Birthday.

After wheeling the barrow around the farmyard, the silly people started playing walnut barrowball. The rest of us compared the color and taste of the new harvest (still a little green) with the few remaining unshelled nuts from last year's harvest (slight sawdust taste). Do vintners do this when they bottle a new year's worth of grapes?

--- Drying walnuts between window screens ---

I reminded people to dry the harvested walnuts for several days before they start shelling them and to only store the unshelled nuts in paper bags. I spread my walnuts on screens to air dry for about a week. I like to dry them outside under the shade of the maple trees, but if rain or high winds are forecast, I dry them in the garage. I spread them out in one layer on old window screens and then clamp another screen on top of them. This is to prevent the scheming rodents from stealing my harvest.

--- 2 x 2 buck overseeing the retreat of does into the forest. ---

After the harvest, we went for a walk to see the sunset. We saw the 2 x 2 buck and several does on the upper meadow, but since I had a large group of people with me, I was not concerned that the buck would try to charge me again. The does slipped into the forest and the buck stood on the edge to make sure we did not steal any of his girls. We ignored him and walked out to the center of the meadow for the best view of the sunset over the ocean 12 miles away.

--- The buck sidesteps in Duncan's direction. ---

Somehow, Duncan became separated from the rest of the group. When I looked back across the large meadow, I saw that the buck was circling him. I was concerned since Duncan was squatting down. The buck never actually ran straight towards Duncan as he had charged me in the same meadow at sunset last week. Instead, he slowly circled Duncan with lots of sideways glances, and then trotted over the top of the hill.

--- Duncan, stand up! ---

--- From Duncan's viewpoint.
Photographer: Duncan Simmons ---

--- Buck finally turning his back on Duncan and heading up the hill.
Photographer: Duncan Simmons ---

Later when I informed Duncan that was one of the bucks that charged me last week, he said, "Oh, that is because he knew you are pushover." Duncan Simmons, attorney-at-law and deer whisperer.

We had BBQ hot dogs, sausages and chicken with pesto noodles, almond-stuffed olives and cherry tomatoes by candlelight under the maple trees. Benny fixed my computer. Everyone drove home safely and agreed that a good time was had by all.

Nathan, with energizer-bunny-like stamina, was excited to pee in the back-forty, and he gave me a giant pumpkin with a ghost carving kit. I don't get any trick-or-treaters at the Dipper Ranch, so at first, I didn't know what I was going to do with these prizes. Since then, I have secretly schemed to roll the huge pumpkin down the steepest hill on the ranch and watch it tumble and smash into little treats for the deer. A former news station camera man has offered to document this important event. Do we know how to party or what?

--- Colorful sunset clouds to celebrate the harvest and the great outdoors.
Photographer: Duncan Simmons ---

With the next windstorm, there will be more walnuts on the ground. With sunny days, the green husks will shrivel and more brown shells will pop out. And another batch of daytime friends and warriors will arrive for the walnut harvest. At night, the critters will collect their share; how they party, I am not sure, but I'm sure a good time will be had by all.

--- Duncan Simmons, attorney-at-law and deer whisperer ---

1 comment:

  1. I love your stories! This one reminded me that I still have a package of the 2008 walnuts in my kitchen. I was just wondering what to have for a yummy evening snack and now I know. On to the kitchen!


Comments let me know to keep on sharing what's happening at the Dipper Ranch. You can either use an existing account or choose "Anonymous" by clicking the arrow after the "Comment As" box. Your comment will appear after a delay to allow screening of spam.