• Sometime during the previous fall, haphazardly spread some fresh chicken manure under the trees.
  • Hold onto the perpetual farmer wish for a Goldilocks spring, with not too much and not too little rain.
  • Watch leaves emerge in March and flowers emerge in April. Ponder that you grew up with these trees, yet never noticed until now what the delicate green flowers looked like.
  • Cross your fingers when a frost on May 11th nips the outside leaves of the tree, but seems to leave the tiny emerging fruit in tact.
  • YoungWalnutsWatch the fruit swell. Be happy at the lack of rain in the summer, which keeps the hulls from getting funky and sticking to the nuts.
  • Hope that your sad-full of hard water deposits-near the end of a long run-torqued by tree roots-irrigation system delivers enough water to the trees during a long hot dry summer, when no rain falls from mid July to early October.
  • Notice in September that some of the thick green hulls are starting to split open.
  • Notice after a breezy day that there are some walnuts on the ground.


  • Notice after a big rain and a particularly windy day that A LOT of walnuts are on the ground.
  • Pick a perfect day in October, when the sun is shining, the air is crisp, and the leaves are starting to fall from a recent frost.
  • Find a bucket. Dump out the potting soil into another container; yes, the soil in which you were going to plant seedlings for your now nonexistent fall garden; scrub out bucket and drip dry.
  • Convince your old, blind in one eye, mostly deaf, bad back hips dog to walk down the long driveway to the walnut tree.


  • Plop down on the ground in the fallen leaves. Enjoy the sharp tannic smell so distinctive of walnuts, that reminds you viscerally of picking walnuts where you grew up in northern California.
  • Reach around in a circle, picking up all nuts within your reach, and toss them into the bucket, only missing occasionally. Remove the hulls still intact on the nuts, staining fingers. Scooch your butt to a new place. Repeat.
  • Listen to Charlie the turkey gobble in the distance. Listen to the sheep and goats munching on your now frosted out garden. Wonder about how basil that has gone to seed might make a sheep’s breath smell.


  • Lie in the grass and leaves and take pictures of the dog, sleeping in the sun amongst the fallen nuts. Reach under dog to retrieve nuts he’s lying on, while he groans and hopes you will rub his belly. Rub the dogs belly.
  • Celebrate, like a manic hoarding squirrel, your walnut haul, knowing that you will shell walnuts in front of the wood stove, throwing the shells into the fire, on some cold winter night, and eat the nut meats (preserved in the freezer to prevent them from going rancid) until next fall, in all manner of muffins, pancakes, quick breads, granola and pesto.
  • Remember, once again, why fall is your favorite time of year.

Miles Away Farm Blog © 2012, where we’re eternally grateful to the original owners of this piece of ground, for planting two English walnut trees some time around 1997, so that we could have days like this. But we’re also grateful that they only planted two trees, as we now have about 15 gallons of nuts to shell.