“This was my grandfather’s farm. The name is Geci’s Orchard. He came home from World War 2 and bought this farm. He planted every pecan tree and built the barn and house in the ’40s. He planted more trees each year with the money he saved. He grafted every tree and put down the irrigation system that is now in a big heap against a tree. Before the irrigation system, he would pump the water from the creek into barrels and we would water from the back of the truck. We picked the pecans and grated them ourselves. Grandpa built the blower and everything for harvesting. He loved to whistle “In the Garden” and “A Closer Walk with Thee” as he watered and checked the orchard. I would sing along. He prayed over every part of this farm. Maybe that is why our houses weren’t damaged more.
I was about 11 when Frederick hit. I walked outside with my daddy and grandpa. My grandpa wiped away tears as he stepped over trees. We lost 30-something trees in Frederick and lost 30-something trees in Ivan. We had 240 trees before Sally. My uncle said he had 62 trees on his side before the hurricane and there are only 16 left. It looks like a tornado came in and twisted the trees.
My grandpa died in 2012 and split the farm between his five kids. I grew up in this orchard and they sold me an acre. Grandpa called this tree by my house Tammy’s tree because I always got the most poundage here. He paid 25 cents a pound. My tree was always the first to ripen. When we cracked the nuts at this tree and they were good, we knew we had two weeks before harvest. We built our house with my tree out the back, but we are going to have to knock the tree down because it’s leaning.
Last year was a bad year for pecans, but this was going to be our best harvest in years. Every time we hear the pecans crunch under our tires, we know that is money we lost. I can’t think about what we lost. I am just trying to clean up. It is going to hurt to look out and see the emptiness where the trees used to be.
I do Medicaid paperwork for the intellectually disabled. COVID tripled our paperwork and I was overwhelmed. This hurricane helped snapped me out of it. It has been a rough year, but
there was no water damage and we still have our home and and our health. We are blessed that none of the trees landed on our house. We will figure it out from here.”
“The grief is hitting our mom. We are trying to keep lifting her up and make positives such as we can extend the deck because we will have a bigger yard.”
“I hope the bumpy tree is still there. We call it that because I once hit it with a tractor. We have been working here since we were kids and grew up driving tractors.”
“We make good pecans pies. They are so much better with fresh pecans. At Christmas, we made pecan crescents with my grandma’s recipe and gave them to our teachers. They looked forward to them every year. We gave them to the bus driver and mail lady. I guess no one is getting them this year.”
“We usually love this time of the year as the weather gets cooler. That means it is time to start cleaning up the limbs and preparing for harvest. We would come home from school and go straight to the barn to start working. The girls were the ones who learned how to drive the harvester. It is hard to believe it won’t be happening this year.”
Bethany and Melissa