Last year we rounded up a truck load of black walnuts and took them to a hulling station down in Holmes County. We’re trying to make a little bigger project of it this year. I have taken two truckloads so far and the hulling station is open for another month! We make a little money (about $100.00 a truck load) which we give to the same ministries we take all the garden produce to. I’ve learned a lot. The meats of the nuts themselves of course are used for food and flavorings. The hard wooden shells of the walnuts make top-notch mulch or can be used in sand blasting. The outer hulls of the walnuts are used in de-worming medicines, stains and dyes (of course – it sure works well on the pants I wear when doing this job!) and as fertilizer. The hulls can also be used to stun fish so you can just pick them up from the surface of the water but I wouldn’t let the DNR catch you at that! There are two species of flies that lay their eggs in the outer hull of black walnuts. If you gather large numbers of nuts you will become acquainted with the maggot stage of the life cycle of those flies. It’s OK. The maggots do not penetrate into the nut itself, content to feed on the (to most other organisms – toxic) outer hull. And – the chickens belonging to the guy who runs the hulling station can’t get enough of them! Those chickens scratch through the hull pile searching the maggots out with great efficiency. We provided them with a feast by sweeping out the truck bed. By the way, all those chickens have black feet. A few of them appear to have rolled in the hulls as well. Perhaps it kills mites and lice. Interestingly enough, the younger children of the guy who runs the hulling station also have dark colored feet! But I digress. Because it’s the way my head works – I counted the number of walnuts it takes to fill the bags I use – about 340-350. I then divided the price I got for each truck load by the number of bags in the truck loads. The long and short of it is this – picking up black walnuts is not quite – but almost – the same as picking up pennies. You take it for what it’s worth – which is about a dime for every twelve walnuts! For myself, I don’t count the time and gasoline against the project because it’s a beautiful time of year for a drive to Holmes County and the guy who runs the hulling station is pretty sociable! If you want in on the action – you can collect your black walnuts – or those of friends and family – and drop them off at the church. Put them in the grass between the barn and the parking lot and I’ll find them. I’ll even give you bags is you need them. Or – if you have a location where a person could pick up anything resembling a truck load – say twenty five to thirty bags – give me a call and we’ll come to you! God bless. In the meantime, remember this truth from Ecclesiastes 11 – Cast your bread on the waters – try seven things or even eight, morning and evening – because you don’t know which one might succeed. Ministry is where you find it and most things are worth a try!
Pastor and Author Terry Bailey, Senior Minister of Indian Run Christian Church