Gathering pinyon nuts on a small scale is labor intensive. My preferred method is to slip a five-gallon bucket over a limb with cones and shake them vigorously, rattling them against the sides of the bucket. The nuts shower free of the cones and land in the bottom of the bucket.
The problem with the bucket method is that much more than just the good nuts fall into the bucket. There will be many dry or blasted nuts that are no good. Also, there will be lots of cones, needles, spiders and other critters inside the bucket. In the end, you still have to separate the good nuts from the rest.
I loaded my ATV onto the trailer and towed it out to Texas Flat yesterday. I unloaded near an old corral. I took some Goop and rags with me for cleaning the pitch off my hands when I was finished. I wore gloves when I shook nuts into the bucket, but took them off when I got down on the ground and picked up nuts one at a time.
I came upon a couple of places where the branches of a tree hung out over the road and dropped nuts that dribbled down into the bar ditch. My fingers are not as nimble as they once were. I needed a couple of grandchildren to help pick up those little nuts. But, they would have grown bored and tired of it within about 15 minutes.
I’m not sure I will go back for more nuts, but if I do I think I will take something like a small, toy scoop shovel and a spoon. I could scoop nuts into the little shovel easier than picking them up one at a time. The dirt that went with them would be easily separated.
I saw a rattlesnake dead in the road. I backed up to look at it and saw that no one had removed its rattles. I got off the ATV, pulled out my knife, bent down to cut off the rattles and thought of my dad. Even though the snake was very dead, with a stink about it and flies and beetles, as soon as my knife touched the rattles, my dad would have snorted and goosed me. It would have startled the heck out of me, too. There is an uneasiness when messing with snakes, even very dead ones.
I learned something about pinyon nuts a few years ago. I was on Wray Mesa, east of Old La Sal. I got out of the truck to hike through an area that had been burned over a year or two before by a big fire. On the ground beneath the pinyon trees where I parked were lots of pinyon nuts. I ate a handful and found them to be very good. I didn’t know that the nuts could winter on the ground and still be good. I wondered why the squirrels hadn’t gotten them. Incidentally, I found a shaft of burn-killed service berry that day. The wood grain is twisted and very beautiful. I made it into one of the prettiest walking sticks that I have.
Pinyon nuts always remind me of when I 10-years-old. I remember shooting my BB-gun at cones full of nuts and picking up the ones that fell to the ground.
There was a time when I worried about my weight and didn’t eat pinyon nuts because of the fat and calories. I still worry about my weight, but I was finally captured and brutally tortured by the forces of fat and I have conceded the victory to them.