I have two ash trees at the farm that are a bright red already. Each time I look at them, I recall how puny they looked ten years ago. Because they were too close to the construction site when I built my farm house, they were marked to become fire wood. They were saved because it was fall before construction began and by then they were ablaze with color and have been every October.
Another tree is a dazzling yellow and a gorgeous contrast to a nearby cedar. It’s a wild persimmon tree. One bite will cause your mouth to pucker for ten minutes. Persimmons get slightly better after a frost, but I don’t bother to fight the birds for the fruit, though I do admire the color.
My granddaughters, daughter, and I also picked up black walnuts from the ground. Nature makes you work for every bite you get. In the Ozarks, when the green-shelled walnuts fall from the trees, they’re collected in the driveway so cars can run over them for a week or so to break the hard outer layer. The remains are left to dry out before the inner hull is cracked to retrieve the nut.
I was eager to show the girls how to get to the “meat” of the black walnut, so we hastened the process with a hammer, being careful to wear gloves to avoid getting stained. Here’s a bit of trivia for you. Did you know that Missouri has the distinction of being #1 in the world in the production of black walnuts? Yep, we account for 70% of production worldwide.
There were other things for the girls to learn this weekend. In these photos they learn how to open a farm gate and how to feed a horse a piece of fruit–it’s flat handed to avoid getting your fingers nibbled.
When lunch is ready, it’s fun to have someone sound the dinner bell. Children love doing this. One of the “bells” at the farm is a triangle, like those used on a trail ride to summon cowboys to a chuck wagon; the other is a #2 cast iron farm bell that makes a hearty gong you can hear for acres. (Some say a #2 bell can be heard two miles away, but I guess that depends on your terrain.) Once used to call hungry field hands, today ringing the bell is just a fun way to gather family and friends to a meal.
This chilly Saturday evening, we served comfort food: meatloaf, salad with basil vinaigrette, corn, roasted vegetables, broccoli with lemon butter and bread pudding for dessert. Four college-aged visitors didn’t get enough of the outdoors that day, and spent the night camping in sleeping bags. They were young and hearty.