Aaaah, nuts! Let’s see: that could be an exclamation of disgust akin to “Rats!” or “Darn!” or it could be lovingly moaned upon receiving a gift of the same. Which one is it, you ask?
Well, at this point in the year I’m not sure which way I mean it! Even though this is the second fall for us out here on our 2 acre “homestead”, it was the first for the pecans. We had noticed a slew of them on the ground when we moved in January of 2000 but they were small and we had better things to do that month getting settled in.
Last year we didn’t see any which didn’t seem unusual to this city girl. I’ve had pecan trees before but had never seen any nuts. I always figured they must need special spraying or city pollution was a killer.
Boy, was I wrong! I just counted recently and discovered we actually have 15 pecans of varying ages on our small plot and guess what? They all produced some nuts this year!
Now when I realized we were going to have a crop, I got really excited. I thought “Hey, why don’t I put some easy effort into gathering nuts to give for Christmas presents? I got the time to fool with it.”
Talking about famous last words. Brother!
I started taking long lunch breaks that accomplished 2 purposes: first, it got me outside and physically moving around (a good thing for this computer worker) and second, I could harvest “my crop”.
Now, of course, I had more questions than answers when I first started this “harvesting”. Like, how do I store them until I sell or crack them? And do I separate out the smaller ones? And do I need to clean off the hulls? And, and, and…
In a daze, I would daily search out those boogers. There’s one there and there and there, oh, and under that bush and in that hollow. It was like a treasure hunt, a mesmerizing, captivating treasure hunt.
I started cleaning up the nuts, removing hulls and eventually separating sizes. As usual I didn’t use gloves. I hate gloves because I always prefer actually touching in anything. I even stain wood without them.
Let me say that I will never clean pecans without gloves. My hands turned black and it didn’t wash. Wood stain will at least wear off pretty quickly. I resorted to sticking my dark thumbs in bleach in order to lighten the color.
Gathering became a challenge. I would show those trees how smart, how industrious I was. THEY weren’t going to allowed to keep those nuts. They were mine.
Days went by and less nuts were dropping every time I went out. But I could see the trees had plenty up there. Okay, now of course I know that commercial orchards shake the trees. So we got out there with implements: a hoe to catch the limb and shake it (exhausting and only works on the very low limbs), a hoe or pole to throw into the trees (getting the hoe stuck way above our heads was very irritating), the truck and ladder to raise us up to get to another 3 more limbs (not enough).
Not only that but the leaves fell, too. I swear to you I think mother nature plans such things to keep her own. Those dang nuts would invariably roll underneath the leaves even when there was a 4 foot square clean spot next to it!
So, I raked. I raked before the next shaking session. That helped. It was amazing how many nuts were hiding.
Then I realized that I should rake underneath the bushes as well. Yup, there were quite a few hiding where I hadn’t even looked.
That led to another Aha! I had been planning to clear out those flower beds and prune those bushes anyway. I dug in. With gloves. In shorts.
Poison ivy. The third time this year. The good news is that I didn’t have to resort to steroids like the first 2 times. I weathered it for three weeks and still show red marks over 6 weeks later. As boss Ralph said, you would think I would learn.
120 pounds of pecans and I was off to get them cracked. Actually, I was gonna have half cracked and sell half to pay for the cracking.
120 pounds cracked pecans later I found myself watching tv and cleaning up pecans. The dust was so bad that it aggravated my asthma and stopped up my nose badly. But I had an awful lot of pretty pecans. But way too much to give away as presents.
I bagged them. Immediately I sold $10 worth. I said, aha, I’ll put an ad in the paper.
No calls. Everybody seems to have pecan trees out here.
In the meantime I’m still gathering nuts. And then Thanksgiving. And rain.
There I was out in the rain picking up nuts. Talking about excited!
Well, since then I have weathered the weather. Glad to see more rain this week and excited to find the ground littered with pecans. I’ve sold more pecans. I’ve paid for the cracking finally and made a smidge of profit. Even if I had sold them all, I would only be making about 50 cents an hour.
I stand in silent salute to our farmers. Depending on the weather is chancy, stressful and ain’t the way I want to spend my life.
I’ve got another 50 or so pounds gathered and was going to sell them instead of having them cracked. I’m seriously considering not even fooling with pecans the next time.
But wait. I just took an inventory.
I think I sold too many. I may not have enough left for presents and for me. Aaaah, nuts!