Autumn Afield

The sun setting over the water runs like a golden thread through the needle that sews the seasons into the quilt of the year.

The days are shorter in the fall. Trees daily losing their leaves, flowers fading, grass turning brown. Soon all becomes brown and barren, looking and worse with all the junk and problems of farms, barns, and houses becoming visible. No screen of green hides the ugly and stained. No grass filled ditches hide the litter unscrupulous persons toss from their open car windows. All is open to see and to injure the soul through the eye. What is that? An old couch and some mattresses turned out along the road. A junky piece of old useless auto or a broken down appliance. So junk becomes landscape.

Winter otherwise gives us the beauties of bare trees and scrubs where I see shapes, outlines, silhouettes and statuary which summer had hidden. The blackbirds in their swirling flocks pass up, around , and down and it is a wonder to watch them––like poetry on the wind.

Snow and ice is rare here but when it comes it is as often followed the next day by bright sunlight we are dazzled by the glowing glittery glory of it.

The best of the season is waking to the smell of the woodstove fire and the scent of strong arabica coffee. The evenings we spend sitting back by the woodstove, its door propped open so we can hear the crackle and sizzle of the wood burning. Conversation flows or we sit and I read aloud while Ron cracks out pecans for the holiday baking. The wood and ashes are messy, but the wood fires loved by all who visit because of the warmth and friendliness of it.

Autumn is not a long season here. It comes in late with October’s harvest moons and the Monarch butterflies’ migration from northern places to the south side of Mexico. It gives us windy wet days to harvest pumpkins, apples, and pears. It allows two or threes days to enjoy open windows and the absence of summer heat. Then autumn turns chill and cloudy and the days shorter and shorter. Wham––cold! Winter is sudden yet we know we will have warm days interspersed and what we call Indian summer.

We know that the crocus blooms and daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips will soon follow. Our winter lasts no longer than spring and we will find ourselves welcoming summer back with its wind and waves of heat.

Calving Season on A Small Farm

Watchful cow hides her calf in the weeds at the pasture’s perimeter. Most of the mama cows protect their young this way and it helps to have a horse between the cow and calf while you work them. A mad mama cow can be dangerous. Nothing seems to scare Brenna though. She talks the cows and calves through and they seem to regard her as part of the deal. I stand far back. I’m the observer with my camera in hand.
Fences. I do hate them for the way they enclose the land. Still, I know we need them. It was barbed wire that replaced open ranges and hedges of osage orange and helped settle the prairie lands. Fences keep our horses and cows safe here where we can have the benefit of them. If a fence could be built that would keep crows and squirrels out of our pecan orchards, I am sure Ron would try to build one.
The sky cannot be fenced and isn’t that good to know!

Pecan Orchard Work and Rewards

“There is no return in an endeavor without first there is education and effort.”

c.e.hollis
A Bushel of Reward––Pecans picked up by hand take some time but the work is rewarding. I enjoy sitting under a tree on a sunny but cool November day and filling baskets with the nuts.
Pecan Honey Pie is a family favorite for the holidays!
Holliswood pecans

Those of you who enjoy reading about our farm may like to hear about how we work and harvest a pecan crop so this post I’ll be sharing some of the how-to.

This week starts the actual shaking of the trees and the harvesting. For weeks Ron has been busy getting ready for the harvest. For many years he has been educating himself after planting our orchard of 340 trees. Ron went to conferences and classes at OSU to learn to plant, graft, prune, water, nurture, protect, and tend the trees. Now he is learning how to harvest the nuts and get them safely to market.

Fifteen years back we planted our pecans trees. This is the first year that we needed more big equipment because we couldn’t handle the harvesting by hand. The work is harder without all the right equipment but Ron is resourceful.

With pecans beginning to fall, he is anxious to get the crop in. (He has put shields on the tree trunks to help ward off squirrels. He has sprayed for weevils once. He warns off the crows but they like pecans too.) He has fertilized the orchard and kept it mowed and now is beginning the work of shaking, gathering, and cleaning the pecans of sticks and hulls that the harvester picked up.

The next step is floating (to sort out poor pecans), washing and drying the nuts, bagging and taking several hundred pounds to a dealer to be weighed and cracked. These first of the season pecans will be for our freezer and to sell and give to others. The later harvest of nuts he will wholesale to pecan companies who have more machinery, storage coolers, and markets. Those go into Super-Sacks that hold fifteen hundred pounds!

Someday we may have all the setup to harvest, clean, shell, store, and market our own crop, but in the meantime, Ron keeps up the hard work with the equipment he has. He is enjoying being a tree farmer and working cattle besides. He doesn’t mind me baking him a honey pecan pie or a pan of cinnamon rolls now and then either.

The Heart of Spring Prayers for grade school educators.

This book, What’s Good About Home, is a collection of stories and illustrations written by a stay-at home mom of seven to encourage stay-at-home mothers in their important life’s work.

Life with Mama This book is about a mom who raised nine children and lived a beautiful, happy, God-filled life. The stories will make you laugh and sometimes cry. Read Mama’s favorite scriptures and her wise sayings.