Since our Christmas Even tradition might be harvesting the nuts from now on, maybe our end of the year tradition will be shelling the nuts. I'm not sure why our winter holidays are so nut-centered now, but I'm going with it. Actually with Aidan home from school I'm doing whatever I can to keep him occupied and shelling nuts is very time-consuming, so it was a perfect afternoon job for him.
The nuts have been outside drying in the sun since Christmas Eve. They got nice and crispy and the leaves got very brown so they were very easy to pull off the shoots.
Aidan noticed that quite a few of the shells had holes in them and had no nuts inside. We spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out what had eaten the peanuts, but couldn't come up with anything that made sense. We toyed with the idea of some sort of miniature burrowing elephant because that's what you do when you ponder these decisions with a 4-year-old.
After we'd discarded the plants and put all of the nuts in the basket, we brought them inside to shell them.
On a side note, Aidan visited santa twice this December - once with school, and once at the mall with us. Both times he asked Santa for the same two things: Pokemon cards and a Nutcracker. When we asked him why he wanted a nutcracker, he said "to crack nuts." Of course. How silly of me to ask why my 4-year-old wanted a nutcracker. So santa brought him a nutcracker in the shape of a British policeman and Aidan was over the moon. He had no use for the thing because we don't exactly keep buckets of in-the-shell nuts around the house, but Aidan was happy regardless.
Well wouldn't you know that as soon as we brought the bucket of peanuts inside Aidan happily ran over to his nutcracker and brought him over to the table. "This nutcracker sure will come in handy!" he said. Well he had a good point.
Aidan opened all of the nuts in the nutcracker and I did my share in my hands. We sorted the nuts into a little bowl and discarded the shells into another basket. I haven't seen Aidan this captivated with a task in a long, long time. Note to moms: shelling nuts with preschoolers is a killer activity.
I've had these fantasies about making my own peanut butter for the boys. So as the last peanuts were shelled I looked at the measley little harvest we brought in - and measured it.
We got about 3/4 cup of peanuts. How pathetic is that? All that planting, the hilling, the watering, the hurricanes, the over-watering, the hilling again... the harvesting, the drying, the shelling... and we have 3/4 of a cup. Wow gardening is not for the sane. Not at all.
But we will move forward and try and make peanut butter out of this measley little harvest and dammit the boys will like it and we will make this whole thing worthwhile.