Pecan Grove (www.pecan-grove.net) Pecan Orchard and Senior Residence

October 1, 2012

September 2012

Filed under: Senior Residence — knewman @ 4:53 pm

There are two postings this month, this one about the PG Sr. Residence, and the preceding one about the pecan harvest (for those interested).  A lot has happened in September.

Sadly, Frank’s confusion got to the point where he needed more care than we could provide.  With heavy hearts, plans were made to move him to a nursing home near his sister Jean in Florida.  Ronda flew with him from Houston to Orlando.  Jean and Philip Farris met them in Orlando and took them to the nursing home.  That was a difficult day for all of us, but it has turned out better than expected.  Frank is very happy to be near his sister, and the nursing home is giving him daily therapy which seems to have helped.  Jean sees him almost every day, takes him to meetings and sometimes to her place for a meal.  We’re sad to see him go, but glad the situation has worked out well for him there.  We miss his humor and soft spirit here.  The pictures below show him with Ronda and I just before leaving, and then him with Jean and Philip in Florida.

Ronda and her husband Mike Rosamond (who does the pecan farming), her son Brandon Chandler (who has been working on the farm) and Brandon’s family have decided to move back to Arkansas to be near their families (Rosamonds and Chandlers).  So we’ve put out a message asking for help at PG.  Then we realized that Destiny Minor (Mike’s niece who has been working part-time at the residence), is planning on staying, and wants to work full-time.  So, we’re planning on having Destiny work full-time, and Kathy (my wife) and Karin (my daughter) will take over more of the management responsibilities.  We’re still looking for someone to work on the farm, but Brandon isn’t planning on leaving till the end of the year, so we have some time to find the right person.  This will be a big change for PG.  We hope all goes well for the Rosamonds and Chandlers in McRae Arkansas.

We had 3 birthdays in September.  Jean’s (89th) must have been a hoot (I wasn’t there).  She loves Whataburger, so they loaded the PG bus with all the residents and took them to Whataburger in Willis.  The employees at Whataburger were great!  One even tried to dance with Jean!

Esther turned 97 – oldest resident, with a wonderful spirit.

Evelyn turned 86.  Visitors included the Beavers who visited Barbara.

Lyle Waldo (my cousin’s son) visited his brother Don and Jenny Waldo.  The picture shows Don, his daughter Ava and Lyle.  Jim Holmes came down to see Lyle Waldo.  Here he’s shown with his good friend (one of our residents) Betty Lawrence.

Frances McPherson’s son Richard came with Jerry Freed (Jerry on the left, Richard on the right).  Virginia’s sisters came to visit.

Janet Nicole came to visit her aunt Barbara.  Janet is also seen in the Pecan Harvest posting working at the vibrating table.  The second picture below shows a spider down by the lake, in this the bug capital of the world!

I can’t finish without some pictures of the twins!

Ken

 

 

 

Pecan Harvest

Filed under: Pecan Farming,Pecan Grove — knewman @ 4:53 pm

This post describes the process we use for harvesting pecans.  Our pecan orchard is relatively young.  Pecan trees don’t produce many pecans until they are 10+ years old.  Our oldest trees are now about 14 years old, but many of our trees are younger and still too small to harvest.  Last year we had no harvest at all due to the drought.

We have 5 types of paper shell pecans, most named after Indian nations such as Pawnee, Cheyenne,  and Choctaw.  We have one variety with the name Desirable.  The Pawnee’s are harvested in early September.  The rest are harvested in early October.  This year the harvest is earlier than usual by a few weeks.

When the pecans are about ready, the crows start coming.  In 2009 we lost most of our crop to crows.  The solution to that problem is “poppers”, like the one shown below.  These devices run off of propane.  Every few minutes they fire with a sound that is similar to a shot gun.  We run 3 of these poppers in the pecan orchard during the day.  One night we forgot to turn them off, and the next day we had a lot of complaints from our neighbors!  The first challenge for the harvest is to find a crew willing to work!  The second picture below shows part of the crew headed out to the orchard.

We catch the pecans from the tree in tarps that are laid on both sides of the tree.  Below you can see the tarps being moved to a tree using 2 4 wheelers, then placed around a tree.  The tractor is driven onto the tarps, the shaker clamps onto the tree, and the tree is shook.

The following link is to a video shows a tree being shaken.  It’s amazing that neither the tree or the tractor is damaged!

Shaking tree

After several trees, the tarps are emptied into a trailer.  When the trailer has a good load it is taken to the cleaner.

For the first harvest we had gleaners who followed after, picking up dropped pecans.  We didn’t continue gleaning though… too much work for too few pecans.  It makes one glad for gleaners that don’t count the cost!

The cleaner lifts the pecans up and dumps them through some brushes that help remove the husk and then in front of a large fan.  The lighter things like leaves, branches and bad pecans are blown out.  What’s left comes out on a conveyor for people to sort out the bad from the good.  The good pecans go into bags at the end of the conveyor.

The following is a short video of the cleaner in operation.  For many of the pecans the husks have not yet come loose, so they are thrown out.  You’ll see the green ones being thrown out in the video.

Cleaner in action

The bags of pecans are taken into the air conditioned/dehumidified “pecan room” and dumped on drying tables.  After a few weeks of drying, the pecans are ready to be cleaned.  The first step in the cleaning process is the cracker, shown below.  It uses air hammers to crack the pecan shells.

The cracked pecans are dumped by the cracker into the separator which thrashes them inside a rotating drum to separate the shell from the meat.  Then an elevator raises them up and they are dropped through a blower.  Since the shell is lighter than the meat, most of the shell blows out into a trash can, and the meet falls to an elevator which raises them again drops them onto the hopper of a shaker table.  At this point the process becomes very manpower intensive.  You see 6 people below picking out shell and bad pecans as they vibrate past.

Finally, the pecans are run through a sizing vibration table which separates them into 4 sizes.  The first, very small pieces, we throw away because they tend to have little bits of shell.  The next 2 sizes we call “pieces” and what falls off the end we call “halves”.  We bag and freeze the pieces and halves.  The second picture below shows the pecans waiting to be cleaned, from the first day of the second harvest, which is currently in progress.  We now have more pecans than can fit on the drying tables… so the best harvest we’ve had to date.

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