Monday, April 6, 2009

Pecan Farmin' and Marathons

After watching The Nutty Papa run his marathon last year, I learned a few things and assimilated them into my own life. (Whew! "Assimilated"! Look at that big $2.00 word! My Mama would be so proud!)

I'm starting to think being a pecan farmer is kinda like running a marathon. The leaves have broken through and are growing... it's like the starting gun. GO! So I get started at a slow pace. Check the leaves. Check the traps. Cut the grass. Jog. Jog.

Then as the weather heats up and things get to growing, I pick up the pace. Cut more grass. Kill some grass. Spray the trees. Count the nuts. Check for bugs. And it all seems to roll around faster than the time before.

Over the summer, things really get groovin'. Water the trees. Fix broken pipes. Kill the grass. Cut the grass. Watch for bugs. Shake the trees. Faster. Faster. The pace seems to pick up. Pant, pant, pant....

Then all of a sudden, the finish line. Harvest. We start running equipment, moving, shaking... literally. Pickin' up pecans. Haulin' pecans. Fixin' equipment. (See here... I'm goin' so fast now I can't even take the time to add the "g" to my -ing.)

And then it's over. We cross the finish line. Whew. We take a long sit in a tub. Drink a beer. And enjoy the break. Winter.

These are the signs that my marathon has begun. Bud Break. And this year, all the trees have leaves at the same time! It's such a relief to see things progress on track.

And catkins! Lots of catkins. We have them everywhere! Another relief. Last year, I had a whole variety... you know who you are... that didn't produce catkins. No catkins. No nuts.

Not this year. We have catkins everywhere. Look at these big fat beautiful catkins! They'll make some good nuts!

Yesterday, the boys and I set up the traps. I am part of a research group that tracks the movement of "the enemy," the pecan nut casebearer, across the state. I'm one of the more southern orchards, so they hit me first. I'm honored to be a part of this program. But more than that, they help me. They let me know it's time to spray. The Great Pecan Man goes out everyday and hunts for bugs on the tree. That's what the professionals do. Us rookies need a little more guidance. So thanks to the folks at Texas A&M (WHOOP!), I get free traps and they tell me what I need to be doing. It's a win-win, I think!
They send me these funny looking cone things to place in the middle of that grid. The grid is EXTREMELY sticky. So the bad guys go flyin' in there to see what that smell is and they get stuck on that goo.

I hang the traps in the trees for the little guys. They fly right in and don't know what hit 'em! Then I go everyday and count how many I've caught. When I hit my peak, I wait 10 days and then hit 'em with the tough stuff. I kill them, their babies, their Mama's, their crazy uncles. No one is spared! Mwah, ha, ha!

So to all you Pecan Nut Casebearers out there, come on in! The weather's fine!

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