Sunday, October 31, 2010

Going Nuts

The house we bought this spring was built in 1889. Needless to say, it could use more insulation. We're loosing a lot of heat from the attic, so we've decided to raise the level of the attic floor by 8 inches and blow in insulation under the floors to add to the small amount of insulation already there. Here Matt's set the floor boards on the right side back on so he can work on framing the left. Once we have it all framed, we'll remove the floor boards again to blow in the insulation.
Here are the old square nails that have come out of the floor boards, placed in an old chimney plug.

In order to raise the floor we have to do some cleaning out of 'good junk' that was left to us by the previous owners. All the original windows are up there. We're holding on to those for now. There were old ratty rugs that needed to be tossed. There are old bricks from when the previous chimney was replaced.

However, the oddest thing was a large barrel full of walnuts. The previous owners told us about them and that they were reluctant to get rid of them. In doing the wiring for lights in the ceiling of the second floor saw walnuts in various places in the walls, so we imagine the mice are transporting them around the house. That's enough motivation to finally get rid of them, but having to move them around the attic multiple times was another good reason. Finally when it was moved, walnuts would come out of the bottom.
We ended up tipping it over on its side so we could shovel out the rest of the walnuts more easily. We shoveled them into 5 gallon buckets to carry them out of the house. We did at least 5 buckets full to empty the barrel. Here is the barrel tipped after a few bucket loads were taken out.
The bottom of the barrel only had a part of a piece of wood, and then was lined with burlap. It reads WW & SON, ARLINGTON, MASS.

I did crack one open and there was still meat in it. It was very hard to crack and I'm not risking eating unknown aged walnuts.
The previous owner said 50 years, but I'm wondering if they might be older because of the way they were packed. Any guesses? The walnuts went out to the compost pile where we put the weeds. We'll watch to see if the squirrels are less picky than we are.
We're also wondering about the purpose of a barrel full of walnuts. We have a history of the property deeds which is rather confusing to read, but in one part it mentions a tannery being on a connected piece of property. Maybe walnuts were used in tanning? I know they are used in dying wool. Now we're trying to think of a good use or display possibility for the old barrel. Any ideas?

Post Script: At the post-trick-or-treat gathering at the neighbor's house across the street, she said the walnuts were probably from the trees near her house. I guess someone stored them away one year with plans to husk and shell them and never did.


Ana said...

Neat! I really enjoy reading your blog posts—gardening, knitting and sewing. Like you, we also live in an antique house and keeping it warm and draft-free in the winter can be a challenge! Good luck with everything and happy Halloween!

Dan said...

A barrel of walnuts is kind of strange. I know they made walnut wine and liquors way back when. I think they were made with green, immature nuts though cut into quarters. Yours look to be whole. They quite likely may have come from a tanner, the outer husk of the walnuts are full of pigment.

Daphne said...

Arlington Mass, that's my town now. I could see picking them from the neighbors and putting them in a barrel and eating them all winter. Maybe they just got tired of them. Or moved out and left them.