We have been busy picking walnuts up off the ground twice a day. We are nearing the end of harvest based on a quick perusing of the trees. Walnut trees blossom later than most trees and their fruit comes off later as well. I love our walnut trees. They make great babysitters with their strong branches which provides hours of climbing and swinging in the two tree swings. We have added a hammock for dad, but I must confess I usually just go to bed when it is time to sleep. And not to mention a sleeping dad in a hammock is too much temptation for any of my well meaning and playful children to pass up?!?!?!
Our trees were planted in an era before air conditioning and heat pumps were the norm and with great precision they shade the early morning sun and the evening sun, keeping our home cooler in the summer. Our family appreciates the previous generations for blessing us, since those trees have taken decades to reach their height. Another blessing is that walnut trees are deciduous, letting in a lot of winter light, which would have been invaluable in the days of candle lighting, and allowing us to enjoy the winter sun as it warms our home.
But as a farmer, I must admit the harvest is one of its best gifts. Most of the walnuts fall out of their husks to the ground, then the husks fall and then leaves last. It is a very efficient process. As a farmer you are rewarded for being diligent, especially this year. This year is our 7th year on this farm and for the first time I am seeing a huge wildlife uptick on our farm. We have lots of birds, rabbits, voles and moles, coyotes, raccoons and tree frogs. Most of their damage to crops has been negligible with the ecosystem in check. But after seven years of rehabilitative work, we could have a fight on our hands to harvest the crops for you.
A few years ago we saw one stellar jay sharing in the harvest of walnuts, but now there are 10+ visiting us. Even if they take two or three a day that ends up being 30, and over the month-long harvest that is 300. And the raccoons sure are cute as they scamper from branch to branch munching away—this year we have had them visit us a few times at night. To make matters worse, I saw our very first bushy tail critter in seven years—please not squirrels!!!! We even have passersby stop and help themselves to a few walnuts. I feel pretty fortunate to harvest as many as I have, but the odds are definitely looking pretty bleak extrapolating forward.
I know that I have invited wildlife back onto this farm by farming in accordance with nature. We haven’t killed everything with chemicals, we planted habitat to encourage many different types of critters and restored this farm into a living micro and macro happy zone. But I hope those critters share, because I need something to sell you if I am going to call myself a farmer.
I am considering calling Christopher Robbins and asking him to facilitate a local agreement with the wildlife, so I can farm and you will have something to eat.