Sunday, November 8, 2009
In August we start to prepare for the walnut harvest in October. I help my dad with the pipes. Water pipes that is. We must water the orchard one last time before the harvest. Water helps the trees handle the last bit of summer heat. It also helps the walnuts get their last growth spurt going. Plus I get to get wet on a very hot summer day! It is a lot of hard work. My dad could not set the pipes without me. See I can carry one all by myself. And I could not walk through the mud without the help of my dad. I am just like Grandpa George and get stuck in the mud. I just start to sink in it and then I get stuck. Grandpa George used to be strong enough to pull himself out of the mud when he got stuck in it...but now at almost 89 years old, he just can't do it without a little help from his sons. One of them is my dad!
Last year was my first year of really doing some work on the farm. Grandpa George let me in the club, by allowing me to pee and poop in the orchard. Hey that is what you do when you are working outside. From that moment on, I knew Grandpa George knew what was important to a then 4 year old. In fact I ask for permission to 'mark' the field every chance I get. You got to try it some time...but be sure to ask the farmer for permission.
In between August and October, the nuts just grow. There is one more watering session. But this time it is to create a hard surface for the walnuts to fall on. Grandpa George will pull the roller with the tractor all over the orchard. It is really heavy and flattens the dirt. Next my dad will help put out the pipes to water the area again. It takes 14 days, because you only water one row at a time. The watering is not as deep, but it still gets muddy. I do not get to help this time around because I would leave my footprints everywhere. Remember I am only 5 and 11/12ths.
October arrives and the guys have gotten all the gear ready for picking. I miss my dad every weekend. He goes to the farm every weekend, to pick and hull the nuts. This year the nuts are few, only about 2 tons for the whole crop. So I get to go and help pick on the last Saturday of our season, November 7th.
My uncle drives the picker, down the rows. The rows of walnuts were raked into existence by my dad and grandpa George. There was a lot of rain in early October, it sort of knocked a lot of nuts down and it also made the ground really, really soft. Now instead of being flat, it has the dents made by the big tractor tires. The nuts are getting stuck in those tractor tracts and lost in all the tall grass that has grown because of the rain. Oh well, my dad says to just get what we can. I help by using the rake to get the nuts out of the grass. Then I pick up the nuts, toss them into the bucket and empty the bucket into the bin. This is a very fun job, especially when I got to work with my dad. We even threw grass at each other in between emptying the bucket of walnuts. We worked together for a couple of hours and then our work was done.
My favorite part was pulling my sleeping bag out and laying down in the back yard to watch the stars come out just before dinner. My dad was right there with me, showing me the stars. Just like he was right there with me showing me how to harvest walnuts. Next year I get to help sort, well maybe not, but you know, then I will be 6 and 11/12ths years old.