Things are a little nutty in the Ozarks these days — it's black walnut time.
For generations, people in the Ozarks have been picking up black walnuts and this annual event is still popular — for city and rural folks alike.
Chad Hutchens, Gina Freeman and James Weber were at the local buying station Tuesday morning with their haul of nuts. This is Chad's second year to gather walnuts. He said he gathers from a couple of trees in his yard, from a nearby field which has five trees, and then two trees "across the road" and one tree "down the road" give him ample opportunities to make some extra money.
The money is pretty good this year. The going rate for 100 pounds of black walnuts is $14 — higher than anyone can recall.
Gina Freeman said her grandfather picked up black walnuts many years ago and collected about 30 cents per 100 pounds.
"Things have changed," she said.
Hutchens says he picks up walnuts because he can't mow his yard because of them, and he can always use the extra money. He also says it's backbreaking work, but worth the effort.
Money, of course, is the main motivator and with a higher price this year, all sorts of people turn out for the crop. Lone individuals, families, church groups and most everyone else is getting in on this once-a-year opportunity.
Weekends are best for gathering the nuts, especially if there are children involved. With kids out of school, picking up walnuts is something for them to do and the kids like the money. With the nice weather this year, it's a great outing — no coats needed.
Brett Lewis, local buyer, reported a long line at the station on Monday as the weekend crop was delivered.
"They were lined up clear around the building," he said. "Some people had to wait two hours to unload."
The walnut station, located at Southside Feed, will officially close on Nov. 3, so if you have walnuts that need picking up, there's not a lot of time to do it. Right now is the time to get nutty.