I recently bought a parcel of farmland next door to my parents’ acreage. It is 78 acres of rocks and hill, pasture and hayfield, and a lot of trees. The trees were a sticking point in the deal after the seller had the value assessed on them as timber. Right now, walnut is a valuable wood and becoming more so because of what I feel is massive over-harvesting on farmland like the piece I now own. It’s beautiful wood, but I love a hearty black walnut for their fruit, which are picked in the fall and sold to the local buyer/huller operation. I’ll admit, they most certainly are a difficult nut to love. When picking, you must be prepared to end your day with a sore back and aching thighs. You should only where your oldest, least valuable clothes while performing this task, as the green and black hulls give off a stain that sets like ink. The nuts are, literally, hard to crack (you have to use a hammer, no way around it) and the meat doesn’t give itself up easily once it is exposed. The taste is not like an English walnut, but more bitter and sweet at the same time. My favorite use of black walnuts is in ice cream and in homemade fudge, where that slightly weird, twangy flavor really enhances the sometimes overly-sweet chocolate. It is, in a way, a rustic sort of nut and, like the places where the trees grow best, difficult to get at, but completely worth the effort.