Happy autumn! While our neighbors are harvesting their row crops, we recently have harvested our hazelnuts. We soon will be harvesting our beans and corn. We think that they will be ready in a couple of weeks.
On our farm, we have approximately 500 hazelnut bushes. We planted many varieties. Some produce a very small hazelnut, while others are quite large in size. The nut grows in a shell. The shell grows inside a cluster. One cluster can have from four to as many as eight nuts. Some smaller clusters may also have one or two nuts. It varies on the variety that is being picked. We planted the rows of bushes far enough apart so we could drive the ATV (all terrain vehicle) in between them. Using the ATV to carry ice cream buckets and five-gallon pails, Mom, Dad, and I spent a sunny afternoon picking hazel nuts. When the nut is mature, it falls off of the bush. That's why we have to pick them when they are ready and not delay our picking if we want a big harvest. They are easy to pick. You just pick the clusters off of the tree just as you would when picking apples. After our pails are full of hazelnuts, then we go home from the fields to shell them.
The cluster of the hazelnuts looks like a flower. To shell, we peel the material away from the nut and push the nut out. Then, Mom lays the nuts out in pans to dry in the kitchen. After they are dry, the hard shell of the nut gets cracked with a nutcracker. I enjoy helping crack the hazelnuts because I like eating them! They taste really good! Mom enjoys using hazelnuts in the kitchen for baking. She has already baked hazelnut bread and a pan of zucchini hazelnut bars. YUMMY!!!! A friend of ours shared that we should make chocolate hazelnut candy bars for Christmas. (I'm looking forward to that!!)
We harvested four 5gallon pails of nuts for our use. There were more nuts on the bushes than what was picked. Mom said we had plenty to use for baking, Christmas gift giving, etc. It's fun to harvest the nuts. It's easy and when you have such a nice day that we had for picking, it's a great family activity for any age!
Thursday, this past week, Dad went to a pork pool meeting at one of the pork pool member's farm. It was a great day for everyone. After their meeting, they spent time viewing his farming operation. He built a hoop building this past summer and it was very impressive to see. The building is very tall and is divided into two pens. He has growing pigs in the building. He is in the process of building a heated greenhouse for winter farrowing.
Jess came home early Saturday morning. She went with us for the weekend to my first cousin?s wedding. We stayed overnight. The wedding was at a country church near her hometown. It was really awesome!!! The church, they believe, is the oldest Catholic Church in the state. It is an old limestone structured building. We provided the organic pork loin for the meal. Everybody really enjoyed it. I thought the cake was the best! I had two pieces. During the evening informal party, I had another piece. It was so good! She had fall colors of flowers (which she grew herself) for her bouquet, the attendant's bouquet, and the tables. She is an artist and in the evening everyone had the opportunity to share in some painting on canvas, while enjoying music, dancing, and visiting. It was a great wedding!
Farm Fact: Hazelnuts are a commodity in international trade, approximately 70% of the world crop being produced by Turkey. The nuts are about 70% oil, most of which is monounsaturated, and 20% protein. Most of the crop is used in chocolate confections, and a smaller portion is consumed in roasted nut mixes. Potential uses of the crop extend far beyond present traditions. Some hazelnut oil is marketed for human consumption, and brings extremely high prices for its lightness and flavor. The oil market presents a prime possibility for expansion. In fact, hazelnuts appear to be an excellent basic raw material, comparable to soybeans. (Resources: www.badgersett.com)