In 1995
our father began planting
pecan trees on a piece of land
alongside Red Rock Creek.
He was 74 years old
at the time
and knew he might not
live long enough
to see the trees reach maturity.
He was planting them
for his grandsons, he said.
With help, he not only planted them,
but also grafted the tasty
but difficult-to-shell native pecans
to the larger paper shell pecan stock.
As the trees grew,
we had to do the painful work
of thinning them — cutting down some
so others could grow bigger.
In his last years,
he visited the pecan grove often
to keep track of the growth, the grafts,
the deer munching, the bugs
and to oversee more thinning.
In his last year,
he drove himself often
to the pecan grove,
and did get to pick a few pecans
from these young trees.
Ann was his apprentice
and after he died two years ago
she also took a course on managing a pecan grove.
She has been preparing for
the first full-fledged pecan harvest
and this is the year.
Little did we know
it would be a bumper crop
and we’d need everyone on hand
to bring it in.
We tried out the process
before the family came home
for the weekend.

 Lining up the shaker

Video of tree shaking


Pecans fallen onto tarp

It’s a go!

Then last weekend
most of the grandsons
were able to return
to help bring in
their grandfather’s first
pecan crop.
Crows,
coyotes,
turkeys,
barn swallows
were close by
as we laid tarps under the trees,
backed up a tractor
hooked to a tree-shaker
and shook the tree,
then gathered up the tarp
and poured the pecans into gunny sacks.
We sorted and shucked
the hulls from the pecans
and piled them onto the pickup
to return them to the farm,
where we spent evenings
doing more sorting and shucking.
We’ll be doing that a lot
these autumn evenings.

Our family
has long been involved
in the early-summer crunch
to get the wheat harvested.
The pecan harvest
is similar:
it requires a community effort
and a willingness to do what’s necessary
to get the crop safely put away.
It is a festive time,
a time of celebrating
the foresight and inspiration,
the commitment and labor,
the cooperation of humans and trees,
the mysterious weather conditions
that successfully produce
fruit.

                                                                       Photo by Ann McFerron

Dad in the Pecan Grove

We stand in the pecan grove
where our father and grandfather
stood before us, and for us,
grateful for many things—
his far-sightedness and provision,
the ability to learn how to grow food,
the abundance of cooperation,
the togetherness of family,
the warmth and strength of community,
the joy of time together working together,
enjoying the natural world
and its gifts —
and wondering when Dad’s going to send word
about what we’re to do
with all these pecans!