How do pecans get from the tree to our family shelves? Our tutor asked one of our girls to write a blog about this for your pleasure and education.
Farmer’s Daughter, Grace (age 10) says:
1. If you have a pecan tree, harvest a basket of pecans.
2. Get 2 large bowls.
3. Get your utensils and wash them.
4. Get your pecans, place them on the table.
5. Get your computer and choose a movie.
6. Sit back and pick pecans.
7. This is how you pick pecans at home.
Now from the Farmer's Wife perspective:
1. Have a bunch of children.
2. Sign all of them up for piano lessons in town, where there is NOTHING to do, of course back to back lessons, and realize you will be sitting for hours on end.
3. Determine to find something to do … so you ask all the surrounding neighbors if you can pick pecans up out of their yards (because they have previously stated that they dislike the squirrels in their yard after the pecans).
4. Keep reusable sacks in the car - the kind you buy at the grocery store.
5. Utilize positive reinforcement and tell each child that you will buy their good pecans for $1.00/lb (40% more than the local pecan house will pay). Or organic chocolate bars works too - ha, ha.
6. Line them up side by side in the neighbor’s yard, with 3 bags, one for good large pecans, one for small native pecans, one for those that are bad (hog food).
7. Be sure to have human snacks handy as children are constantly hungry.
8. Scoot on the behind or crawl across the yard on hands & knees, in a straight line, running curved fingers (like a rake) through the thick grass, finding every pecan - place in the proper bag. Go back and forth, slightly overlapping not to miss any pecans.
9. After piano lessons, take the pecans to the local buying station: sell the small natives to pay to crack the large paper-shell pecans. Take the bad one’s home and throw to the hogs - this is super fun to listen to them grunt their satisfaction and watch them work their amazing teeth and tongues to crack and pick out the pecan meat. There is a hog lesson in here somewhere, don’t miss the opportunity to teach something about hogs and God’s amazing design, then let me know so I can teach it too :)>.
10. Freeze the cracked pecans if you don't have time to pick them right away.
11. When you have time to pick, roast the pecans for 7-10 minutes to dry.
12. Then proceed with Grace's instructions above.
Good paper-shell pecans will yield about 50% of their weight in meat - per our experience and available variety. This means that local cost is about $3.75/lb if you were to buy them; 50% yield gives us $7.50/lb in cost (however, these could be sprayed so know your source - organic pecans cost a LOT more); each 5 lbs takes about 2 hours of labor to pick, while watching a movie at our house; each 15 lbs takes about 2 hours of labor (1 adult and 5 children) to harvest (this takes the place of purchase price); each vacuum seal bag is about $0.16 and the machine cost about $300 with a useful life of about 12-18 months for packaging pecans, dried blueberries and 30 lbs of cheese per week (on our farm) - not a great ROI so be sure to keep your receipt in case your Cabella commercial vacuum sealer was purchased with a warranty - ha, ha! We Farmer's have to make use of every asset if we want an ROI (return on investment) and the "Devil is in the Details" as the old saying goes. A Farm must be micro managed just like any other business if it is to be profitable and support a family.
So now you know how we harvest pecans for our family on our farm.