Picking Pecans on our Family Outing

The pecan trees are losing their leaves and the hulls are opening up which means it’s time to start picking pecans! What better time to start than today? This time of year we make frequent trips down to the orchards to see if the pecans are ready and today just happened to include one of those trips. My guess is that Winston already knew that the pecans were ready because unbeknownst to me he brought a collection of buckets with us. He made it sound like he needed us to go check the trees with him, but in actuality I think he just really needed a few extra hands.

All three girls picking pecans in the pecan orchard
All three girls picking pecans in the pecan orchard

Not that I mind because picking pecans is actually exciting to me and when we involve the kids it provides some great opportunities for teaching some life lessons. Nowadays we use sophisticated machinery to accomplish this task, but there are a few older trees that are in locations that limit the equipment from doing their job. So for these trees we revert back in time to the way of our great-great grandparents and pick them by hand.

This was our youngest daughter, Allison’s, first time to pick pecans. Well, she really sat in her carrier part of the time and was held by her oldest sister the rest of the time, but she was present none-the-less and I like to think she was playing the role of supervisor. It cracks me up when we do activities like this together because each of our personalities is clearly displayed.

Abby's bucket of pecans
Abby’s bucket of pecans

For instance, our oldest, Anna, was really motivated at first. Especially when her daddy announced that for every bucket collected that they would earn a dollar. Although, that motivation quickly wore off and she got distracted by holding her baby sister. Abby, our next in line, loves to please her daddy. A dollar is a LOT of money to her, so as soon as money was involved she went from playing with sticks and throwing rocks to being obsessive of that bucket and working diligently to earn every dollar.

Abby getting rewarded for her hard work
Abby getting rewarded for her hard work

Winston, who is good at keeping us all in line, was trying to make a game of it to see who was picking pecans the fastest. As you can tell from the pictures, Abby did a fine job and she was quite pleased with the dollar she earned. As for the rest of us, well, I enjoyed my little breaks to ensure that this little memory was documented by camera and at some point Anna took Allison on a walk with our sweet dog, Cocoa. I guess we should be thankful that our livelihood doesn’t depend on that one day of work, but least it was a fun family memory on the farm. After all I have to remind myself that there should be little splashes of playtime that present themselves at various times during our time of work. All in all, it was fun to spend our Sunday evening picking pecans by hand and to instill a little value into the next generation of Millican Pecan farmers.

Anna and Allison playing with Cocoa
Anna and Allison playing with Cocoa

Homemade Baked Zucchini Fries

No Perfect People Allowed


I remember when I was a kid it was quite the rage to start clubs and invite your closest friends to join with you. I was a member of The Girls Club in which we would yell “no boys allowed” at the top of our lungs when some little boy would innocently cross our path. Poor thing! I’ve even heard my daughter get into the spirit of clubs with her friends. My favorite kids club of all time, though, is one that I wasn’t even a member of. It was one that my Grampy served as a proud founder. He and his friends built a treehouse in a nearby forest in Stoughton, Wisconsin that served as their clubhouse. As with most clubs they had a “magic word” in order to enter the clubhouse. Now most of us used something simple like “open sesame” as our magic words, but my Grampy and his friends were creative. Their magic word was in the form of a song. It made such an impression on me that I can still remember it today. I know at this point in the story you are thinking “surely she isn’t going to make me read this song”, to which I am responding “oh yes I am.” 🙂

Alla garu garu, wahoo bahoo
Hiex piex, hika pika domatika
Tippa tika hong kong
Alka balka bah
Guah guah guah

A friend of mine has a shirt which reads “No Perfect People Allowed”. I really like that. It made me think of these clubs that we create as kids. Because even though a kids club is usually in the spirit of fun, the bottom line is that every club excludes someone. “No Perfect People Allowed” should adorn every doorway in every home, church, business, government office and clubhouse. It would help remind us that unconditional acceptance should be the constant rule. And I know for myself it would make me breathe a sigh of relief as I walk into a building with such a motto.

When I think of the perfect pecan tree I think of a huge tree with a wide trunk and leaves that could completely cover you from the sun on a hot day. The thing about pecan trees though is that they are somewhat similar to our own lives. They have stages of prime growth and when they get to the latter stage of life their production starts declining. So my version of a “perfect” tree is not what a pecan farmer would view as perfect. I think these beautiful, mature trees would appreciate this statement as well.

Recipe Ideas?

Hello Wordpress friends! So this week we will be filming some of our recipe videos and would like to hear from YOU what kind of recipes you would like to see us film and post! Even if the recipe contains no pecans, challenge us to incorporate pecans into the dish. Comment below or email us!

sales@pecancompany.com

Need an idea of what we do? Click Here!

Strawberry Chicken Pecan Salad

What a fresh and simple salad for summer and as always Millican Pecan Co. supplies the best Pecans around! 

1. Use a fresh spring mix.

2. Mix in 2 Cups of chopped Strawberries.

3. Add 4 Cups of Grilled Chicken

4. One Cup Blueberries, One Cup Pecans, 3 Tablespoons of fresh basil, and a few onions.

5. Add a few teaspoons of poppy seed dressing and mix. 

All Work and No Play

“All work and no play”. It’s a philosophy, just not a philosophy that our family believes in 🙂 I’m not saying that we don’t believe in working hard. In fact, hard work is something we feel strongly about. And instilling a strong work ethic in our kids and throughout our company is something we desire to do. But learning to take a break or have a moment of fun is what enables us to sustain our dedication to a job well-done.

I remember my first exposure to this idea in the work environment. I was in seventh grade and our family friends invited me to join them for a week to work on their farm and in their general store, Hamblin’s Mercantile. It was an experience I will never forget. We woke up extremely early to milk the cow, enjoyed an amazing breakfast and then drove to town to work at the store. I remember riding in Pac Hamblin’s work truck and listening to Paul Harvey each morning. I learned how to use an old cash register that did not calculate the change due, so I was required to learn the useful task of counting back change to the customers. After lunch, Pac explained to me that this was the time that I should take a “siesta”. I had no clue what he was talking about. After all, it would be three years before I would take my first Spanish class. Thankfully, Pac wasn’t one of those people who left kids to wonder what he meant. He took the time to explain that a siesta was a nap that was taken midday. I realized that if you woke up as early as he did that a siesta was not an option, but rather a requirement. He also told me his philosophy of working hard, but learning to take a nap or break to get rejuvenated in order to face the rest of the day. Now, I appreciate the calm approach to life that the Hamblin’s embraced. In the Millican house, though, calm doesn’t seem to follow us very well. Our house is loud and time seems to spin at an alarming rate. Our version of a siesta is to crank up the music and do a little dancing. In fact, I just happen to have a video of such an occasion. Let me warn you beforehand that what you are about to see is quite embarrassing. The two little girls are our daughters, Anna and Abby, and the big girl is me. I hope this brings a smile to your day! And don’t forget to take your version of a siesta today!

Cute Kids and Yummy Cookies!

Pecan Iced Coffee

Front porches and cold drinks: two things that make the Texas heat more bearable in my opinion. When I said “cold drink” I wasn’t referring to the South’s poster child, iced tea. I was actually referring to iced coffee. Pecan Iced Coffee to be exact. I personally like my coffee hot, but my sister, Leslie, has been telling me for years to give this beloved drink a chance. Since we are approaching summertime I decided to take her advice. By the way, I am so glad I did. This drink is amazing! And the recipe that I am about to share with you will “knock your socks off”, as we say in the south. AND… with your socks off, you can mosey on outside with this drink in hand and enjoy it on your front porch!

See our Video of this recipe!

*Like us on Facebook from now until June 1st for your chance to win a bag of Chocolate Covered Pecans!

Pecan Iced Coffee

Who doesnt love a good Iced Coffee on a hot summer day!

Ingredients:

2 gallons cold water
Glass of Ice
1 Tbl. Sugar
Half and Half
Straw
  • Pour ground coffee in a large container/bowl. Pour water in and mix. Cover and let it sit for 8 hours in the refrigerator. After 8 hours remove the coffee mixture from the refrigerator.

  • Using a fine strainer lined with a paper towel, slowly pour coffee mixture into a separate container/bowl. Make sure all the liquid has passed through the strainer.

  • Take your glass of ice and fill it half way with refrigerated coffee. Add the sugar and syrup and mix. Fill the rest of the way with Half and Half. Add a straw and enjoy!!

Mother Pecan Tree

Found this great article of Famous Trees of Texas! Click here for the original article.

Historical period:  Frontier Texas (1865 – 1899)
Historical topics:  Pecan-Our State Tree, Saved From The Axe
Species:  Pecan (Carya illionoiensis)
County:  San Saba
Public access?:  No access permitted
Tree Tour:  Coming Soon
This tree is the source of more important varieties than any other pecan tree in the world. From it have come such well-known varieties as Liberty Bond, Jersey, No. 60, San Saba Improved, Texas Prolific, and the internationally famous Western Schley (pronounced sh-ly’).

The San Saba Mother Pecan was discovered by an Englishman named E. E. Risien, a cabinet-maker by trade, who became fascinated with pecans. Risien staged the first pecan show in San Saba County to find the best pecan specimen. After the judging, he asked the winning exhibitor to show him the tree from which his pecans came. Risien was horrified when he saw it, for all the limbs had been sawed off except one. The man said that he had used that limb to stand on while he cut the others off to get the nuts!

Risien eventually bought the tree and the land on which it stood. Slowly the tree grew a new crown and once again began producing crops of the prize nuts.

Thinking he could reproduce the fruit by seedlings, he planted the first commercial pecan nursery in San Saba County. In that 40-acre nursery, none of the more than 1,000 pecan nuts planted produced trees of like fruit.

Artificial pollination of the “mother tree” continued for years as he tried to develop new varieties. He would ride horseback for miles seeking suitable “father trees,” gather the pollen-laden male blossoms in his saddle-bags, and bring them back to pollinate the “mother tree.” It generally took about 10 years to know whether he had a new and better variety.

In addition to his pollination experiments, Risien also experimented with budding and grafting pecans when few people knew it could be done.

Records of the first meeting of the Texas State Horticultural Society, held in Brenham in 1886, indicate that Risien won the honor of showing the best plate of pecans. For years after, his pecans were always top winners.

Is it Really True??

Well….the answer is, YES it is!! We received a phone call last week from the Martha Stewart Show. Eeeek!! I must confess I am having a very hard time composing myself. As I spoke to one of the producers over the phone I found myself pacing the floor with anticipation and shaking. Yes, I know it is very shameful, but my hands were in fact shaking and I was trying hard to make sure my voice did not crack as to embarrass myself even more so. I found myself wondering what these producers must think of people like myself. Well, I have to report that she was very down-to-earth and did an amazing job of not making me feel like a fool 🙂

I have been watching Martha’s TV show since I was in college. Over the years I have made many attempts to produce her beautifully, creative crafts, recipes and decorations. I always seem to come up short, though. On screen she displays such ease in producing the masterpieces set before us, but for some reason my reproduction doesn’t quite look the same. If there is one thing that has impacted me the most, though, about Martha Stewart it is her passion for what she does. I have noticed this passion is contagious and has been for many years. So it is especially gratifying and rewarding for me to be able to share with Martha and her studio audience something that I am passionate about… Pecans!

To say that it is an honor to be included on the Martha Stewart Show as well as sourced in her new cookbook “Martha’s American Food” is an understatement. I am excited, honored, proud, giddy, nervous and incredibly blessed! Please join us as we watch with anticipation on the Hallmark Channel on Tuesday, April 24th at 10am and 2pm EST and Wednesday, April 25th at 1pm EST. Happy Baking!

Millican Pecan and Martha Stewart

Great News!!! The producers of The Martha Stewart Show called us yesterday requesting 200 bags of pecans that they are letting the studio audience sample. They also made us aware that they are sourcing our pecans in Martha Stewart’s new book which you can buy on Amazon. We are very excited about this opportunity and hope you tune to her show on Tuesday!

 

 

Shaking Trees!

From an employees view.

I have been part of the delicious world of Millican Pecan for two wonderful years. I have learned so many things about baking, pecans, and chocolate . I enjoy being part of a great company that has been moving since 1888.

There are so many things I enjoy about working for Winston and Kristen, but my favorite thing is baking pecan pies. They have taught me how to make their famous pecan pies and I have baked so many especially during Thanksgiving and Christmas. During the busy season I like being in the kitchen all day baking pies. Some would call me the “pie machine.” I have a little secret when I’m baking pies and it’s not necessarily a secret ingredient. I always like to keep  the valued customer in mind that ordered the pie. I want them to be very pleased when they slice the pecan pie. I love the smell of the pies while they are in the oven. My imagination takes me to a cold winter morning having a slice of pecan pie with chocolate pecan coffee. Yummmm. If you havent had a chance to try our Pecan Pie. You should, because not only is it homemade but now you know they are handmade by me!

 

-Ines Aguirre

 

Pecan Meal Sugar Cookies

 

Here is the link to buy our yummy Pecan Meal:

http://www.pecancompany.com/pecanmeal.htm

 

Entitlement

I’ve been thinking lately of the attitude of entitlement. It stems mainly from a tragic event that happened recently in our community. A fellow pecan grower and friend of mine had her life taken from her because of it.
I have to admit that it’s not always easy to be grateful. After all, with life comes circumstances that are good and bad. But I have observed in my life that when I am grateful for what God has given me, then entitlement has no room to creep in. Recognizing that anything good in my life is not because I was entitled to it, but because God graciously placed it there for me. These gifts are evident to me when I reflect on the family I grew up in, my childhood friends, and grandparents. I also think of my husband and the journey we are taking together. We have been fortunate to graduate college together, see what once was a dream develop into a business, and now pour our hearts into two children. I think if our approach to these experiences was such that we deserved them or were entitled to them then we would miss out on the joy that comes along with them.
In short, I hope that we all can learn the importance of gratefulness. For with it comes the ease of a smile and a life well-lived.

Kristen Millican

Pecan Phanatic!

We would like to present April’s Pecan Phanatic of the Month.

If you are nuts about any of Millican Pecan’s Products take a picture of yourself with some of our product and you could win some really wonderful stuff!

Chicken Salad

This was a recipe sent in by a fan and we loved it so much we wanted to share it as well! Enjoy!

If you have a recipe that you would like to share that has pecans in it we would love to feature it! Post below or send it to sales@pecancompany.com.

Easter Chocolate Pecan Turtles

Speaking of easter! Our Milk Chocolate Pecan Caramillicans come from an old family recipe handed down through the generations. We mix butter rich caramel with our fancy pecans and topped with milk chocolate by hand, one at a time. This is one of our most popular items and is just in time for Easter. This is a great change from store bought candy. Why not support your local business! Click the link below to order some.

http://www.pecancompany.com/candies.htm

Pre-K 4 Visits Millican Pecan

 

On March 9, 2011 in San Saba, TX, the San Saba Pre-K class visited Millican Pecan Company’s factory to learn about the pecans and make their own pecan pies. “The class is currently learning about shapes and colors and we wanted to teach them a little about pecans and how they grow” said owners Kristen and Winston Millican. As they all marched in line to put on the appropriate attire, chef hats and aprons of course, there were scattered giggles and fingers pointing at the funny hats they were all wearing. Each child was given a tiny piece of homemade pie dough that they were prompted to roll out with small rolling pins. Once the piece of dough was in a circle they placed the dough in the small pie tins and started pinching the edges of the crust. With a little help each pie looked very unique. The next step was the pie filling, when each pie had the appropriate filling inside, each child took a small handful of the famous Millican Pecan Pieces. After all the pies were put in the oven, owner Kristen Millican began to talk to the children about how pecans grow with the suns help and how each pecan is unique just like them. Kristen then told them about how they had each made a special pie but there was one more pie that was being made for a very special person. This person of course was none other than the Easter Bunny! With squeals of delight each child was so excited to sign the card that they had made for the Easter Bunny.

The smell of fresh pecan pies began to fill the air and each of the child’s small pies were taken home and enjoyed by them and their family. Millican Pecan Company has a love not only for the community but for the kids that fill it. “We want to build into the next generation which is a passion of our family. We want to be able to use the resources we have been blessed with to enrich the lives of others”, says owners Winston and Kristen Millican, “to see the faces of these children light up when they see the final product that their [own] hands made is pure joy. We also love that our passion for baking is being passed on to others. Who knows, maybe when these kids are grown they will choose career paths that allow them to use the skills learned at events like these.”

 

Spring Cleaning in the Orchard

Spring is always a busy time around a pecan orchard.  By now, we have marketed a large portion of our pecan crop and have been busy in our shop repairing harvest equipment.  The pecans that have been retained for the summer months are being processed and will be in cold storage as soon as completed.  January and February were busy months cleaning up the orchards.  There were many stick piles from the pecan harvest and they all had to be pushed up and burned.  This is no small undertaking and is often overlooked by some.  Pecan scab can and does overwinter in the fallen pecan leaves, so destroying as many as possible is a management tool.  Not only will the pecan orchard look better, the pecan orchard will have less scab spores.

Having a wet spring, broad-leaf weeds and other grasses have begun to torment the orchards.  Not only do they use up the moisture, but they also hide the sticks that the unsuspecting mower will find.  These weeds will continue to grow up into the hotter summer months.  A Roundup strip sprayed at the tree bases keep these weeds in check.   My general rule of thumb is 1.5-2 quarts per acre on thick growth and 1 quart for follow up in 10 gallons of water per acre.
This makes for mowing much easier since one does not have to weave around the pecan trees.  A green section is left between the trees to support the spray equipment in the spring.  This greenbelt will have to be mowed at some point.

Some people ask me from time to time if we use livestock such as cows, sheep or goats in our pecan operation.  The orchards that are entirely pecans do not have livestock and are managed differently than native river bottoms.  Most of the natives have pastureland adjacent to them and cows are allowed to graze beneath the trees.  With this setup, in a normal year, shredding is only done twice, one in early summer and one in late summer.  These animals are removed in the fall prior to harvest.   This has been a management system that has been very successful in the past.

Until next time, remember this about pecan operations:  There is never a dull moment and no two years are the same.

Caramel Pecan Pie

Ingredients:

1 cup packed brown sugar

½ cup sugar

1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour

½ cup butter or margarine, melted

2 eggs, beaten

2 Tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 unbaked pastry shell (9 inches)

1 cup Millican Pecan Pieces

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugars and flour.  Add the butter, eggs, milk and vanilla.  Beat until smooth.  Pour into pie shell; sprinkle with pecans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until set.  Cool completely.  Yield:  6-8 servings.

 

Right Where I Want To Be

Most of the time you will read about a pecan orchard and you can tell that the minds that formulated the words came from a man. Of course, I love to listen to my husband talk about life in the pecan orchards because his eyes light up and his voice reflects passion. But I wanted you to see what a pecan orchard looks like from the eyes of a woman.

When I walk through our pecan orchards it brings me to a romantic place. After all, when we were dating my husband and I enjoyed our first picnic together under the shade of his great-great grandfather’s orchard. This historical orchard was planted in the 1880’s. It’s magnificent trees still produce the fruit, or nuts as we say, of his labor to this day. As I stroll through the orchard my mind often wanders back in time as I imagine five generations taking the same steps that my feet currently take. I can picture them picking pecans by hand as they used to before sophisticated machinery was invented. The orchard is also a place that makes me reflect on the family that I have become a part of. I remember my first experience of harvesting pecans. It was my first Thanksgiving with Winston and we joined his family in the pecan orchard. My job was to help pick the pecans on the sorting table with about 4 other people. The rest of the family dispersed on tractors to conquer the other required tasks. It’s been a family effort for a long time. I love that!

orchardpicToday my daughters and I had some friends over to our house. After lunch we hopped on the four wheeler. Our destination – the orchard. It was our friends’ first time. What a great pleasure it was to see the amazement on their faces as we rode around. Of course, I recognize that face. It’s the same expression I had when I first experienced the orchard in the fall of 1997.

 

-Kristen Millican

Kristen Millican on “The Art of Substitution”

The Art of Substitution

We live rather far from town. In fact, what my girlfriends consider “in the sticks”. We moved here as soon as we got married, which has almost been ten years ago. As a result, I have learned the art of substitution in my cooking endeavors. What I mean is that I have learned to use the ingredients that I have on hand. It is not convenient for me to just hop in my car and run to town each time I am in need of an ingredient for the new recipe I am excited to try. Let me also add that I am not good at planning ahead. Hence the reason I have had to learn the art of substitution even more so. I am also one of those people that does not like to wait. When I see a recipe that sparks my interest and I have my heart set on trying it…I must do it then. I can’t wait until tomorrow!

Now, there are some ingredients that really cannot be substituted. But there are many that can. For instance, I rarely have buttermilk on hand, so I mix ¾ milk and ¼ vinegar when a recipe calls for buttermilk. This special ingredient is common in many southern dishes, so you might want to jot it down. I usually don’t have half and half either. I do, however, keep a small carton of heavy cream in my refrigerator for my late night indulgences of fresh whipped cream by the spoonful. And being a mother of two small children who consume a shocking amount of milk each day, I also have milk on hand. So as the product name indicates, I mix ½ heavy cream and ½ milk when I am needing half and half.

My substitution list has grow over the last ten years. When I was younger my personality did not allow for substituting anything. As I have grown older I have embraced the chaos of life and realized that with the art of substitution comes relaxation. And I breathe a sigh of relief!

Spring Cleaning in the Orchard

Spring is always a busy time around a pecan orchard.  By now, we have marketed a large portion of our pecan crop and have been busy in our shop repairing harvest equipment.  The pecans that have been retained for the summer months are being processed and will be in cold storage as soon as completed.  January and February were busy months cleaning up the orchards.  There were many stick piles from the pecan harvest and they all had to be pushed up and burned.  This is no small undertaking and is often overlooked by some.  Pecan scab can and does overwinter in the fallen pecan leaves, so destroying as many as possible is a management tool.  Not only will the pecan orchard look better, the pecan orchard will have less scab spores.

Having a wet spring, broad-leaf weeds and other grasses have begun to torment the orchards.  Not only do they use up the moisture, but they also hide the sticks that the unsuspecting mower will find.  These weeds will continue to grow up into the hotter summer months.  A Roundup strip sprayed at the tree bases keep these weeds in check.   My general rule of thumb is 1.5-2 quarts per acre on thick growth and 1 quart for follow up in 10 gallons of water per acre.
This makes for mowing much easier since one does not have to weave around the pecan trees.  A green section is left between the trees to support the spray equipment in the spring.  This greenbelt will have to be mowed at some point.

Some people ask me from time to time if we use livestock such as cows, sheep or goats in our pecan operation.  The orchards that are entirely pecans do not have livestock and are managed differently than native river bottoms.  Most of the natives have pastureland adjacent to them and cows are allowed to graze beneath the trees.  With this setup, in a normal year, shredding is only done twice, one in early summer and one in late summer.  These animals are removed in the fall prior to harvest.   This has been a management system that has been very successful in the past.

Until next time, remember this about pecan operations:  There is never a dull moment and no two years are the same.

-Winston Millican

Pecan Site Selection

MotherPecantree

Recently, I’ve been getting calls and emails about people wanting to buy an orchard or develop native/seedling trees into a marketable crop. Just when i think I’ve seen it all, somebody calls and they have a complete different situation.  These are my recommendations for the prospective pecan grower in regards to pecan production.

Soil:

First off, pecans take deep, well drained soil.  Pecans have a very large and extensive root system.  Their roots often extend twice the diameter of the drip line of the tree.   Pecans also have a strong tap root to give the tree support.  Many people say that the reason a pecan tree does so well is because of the tap root.  The truth is, the most important roots of the tree are in the top three foot of soil.  These feeder roots give the tree the water and nutrients that they need to survive.  If a grower is to effective grow a crop, then the top of the soil should be managed well.  In Texas, it is not uncommon to have 30 foot a rich fertile top soil in a river bottom setting.

Soil structure for a potential orchard is important.  If water stands on the property, be leery of it because the culprit could be too much clay.  Clay does not let the moisture from rainfall or irrigation permeate the soil profile.  On the other hand, sand could also pose problems.  Sand is very porous and does not have much water holding capacity.  There are many pecan orchards planted in Texas and the United State that are planted on these kinds of soil.  The optimum soils for growing pecans are a combination.  Loamy soils have the water holding capacity similar to clay, but also have enough sand to make them well drained.  Air is also a critical component of the soil structure.  If an orchard were going to be planted, soil samples are a must.

As a general rule of thumb in Texas, if a healthy native pecan grove is on the property, similar soils would be suitable for pecan production.

Pecan Phanatic

Meet our very own and very first Pecan Phantic!

Definition: Pecan Phantic

noun//

language: Pecanese

A person or thing that is infatuated with the wonderful world of anything and everything pecan.

Do you want to be the next Pecan Phanatic?

Send us a picture of you with your favorite Millican Pecan Product!

sales@pecancompany.com

If we pick you, you could win a free T-Shirt and some of your favorite Millican Pecan Products!

National Ag Week!

Be sure to hug a farmer today or buy some fresh locally grown produce! Below is a look into how we harvest our Pecans.

Irrigation

High quality pecans require water from either rainfall or irrigation.  Most places rely on a combination of the two.  In the western US, irrigation is a must due to the lack of rainfall.  In the eastern US, irrigation is supplemental due to the abundance of rainfall.  Most growers fall somewhere in between. Mature pecan trees can requires much as 2000 gallons of water per week during the growing season.


Types of Systems

Flood irrigation
Orchards that are established on near level grades are suitable for flood irrigation.  Pipes, canals, and ditches are all used to supply water to the orchard rows.  The pecan tree do very well with this type of system as the entire orchard floor is covered.  2-6 inches of water are apply with each application of water.  Most systems require a minimum of 750 gallons per minute (gpm) with a high volume, low pressure pump

Buried Drip
One of the newest types of irrigation on the market is buried drip.  Developed in arid Israel, micro emitters installed on black poly pipe is buried beneath the soil surface across the orchard floor.  Special plows install the tubing with most being buried about 12-18 inches deep.  These tubes connect to lateral lines and main lines across the orchard.  Pump requirements are low pressure and low volume as compared to flood irrigation.    Filtration is the key to a successful drip system.  This system can be installed after the pecans are in production, but some roots would be disturbed.  


Sprinklers
Impact sprinklers are also used in pecan production.  Pressure is required to operate these types of systems.  PVC riser are the most common in which to install the “Rain birds”.  These risers are connected to a network of lateral lines, valves, and main lines.  During harvest these risers can become a problem with the machines as they harvest the crop.  Also livestock and these system do not go together.  Cattle think those sprinklers are like a water park!

Micro Sprinkler
Micro sprinkler use the same type of supply lines as the sprinklers except the risers.  A thin tube, known as a spaghetti tubing is installed onto the lateral line.  A sprayer stake is installed above the soil surface to hold the tube.  Many different patterns of water can be applied with different nozzles.  Diameter of the water thrown can also be adjusted as the tree grows.

These are the most common types of irrigation for pecan production.  What ever your system, water is one of the most critical component of producing pecans.

Good Health, Good Friday

Good Health, Good Friday

I’ve been thinking about all the good in our lives and lately as we’ve been reflecting on Allison’s health issues I can’t help but feel the necessity to mention that she’s been blessed with good health in recent months. Today is Good Friday, which seems like a really appropriate day to write about such a subject. If you’ve been following our posts the last few weeks then you know that we had the unpleasant experience of making the hospital our home for several months this last year. And while I only first labeled my daughter as “healthy” a little over two months ago I can’t fail to acknowledge that it’s in fact been five months since we last rushed her to the hospital.

A Turning Point to Good Health

Our third trip to the hospital was pure exhaustion. We had been home for two days since being released from our second stay in the hospital. When I woke up in the middle of the night to feed Allison I immediately felt the warmth from her skin and upon taking her temperature I fell prey to the routine that we had gotten used to. Allison was not even two months old and we had spent more time in the hospital with her than we had at home. Winston was certain that her first word would be “nurse” and at this rate I couldn’t argue with him. But that third trip to the hospital ended up being a turning point in Allison’s health.

After fifteen days in the hospital she finally had her first surgery. We were unquestionably concerned about our child undergoing a surgical procedure, but it ended up being the very thing that her tiny body needed to relieve her kidneys from the constant infections she was experiencing. And even though we had to rush her to the hospital two more times even after the surgery, they were much shorter stays with more time in between each trip. And most importantly, the diagnosis for each was more easily treatable than the previous UTIs she had been diagnosed with.

The doctors prepared us for what was likely in our future. The surgery was a much needed solution to Allison’s infection problems, but we would likely be coming back with another infection within the next six months. It wasn’t until this last week that I realized we’ve been home for a solid five months.

Surgery Postponed

Allison has a standing appointment scheduled with her surgeon every three months. She was supposed to undergo a second surgery in February of this year, but when we went for her appointment at the end of January we discovered that they decided to hold off on her surgery. The ultrasound revealed that her kidneys were much clearer and that the one smaller kidney had caught up in size with the other one. It was, perhaps, the last thing that her surgeon said that caught my attention the most. “Her kidneys have increased in size and are now an average size for her age.”

“Average”. Most of the time we want our kids to be anything BUT average. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been so excited to hear that word in all my life. In that moment that’s what I wanted for my daughter. I didn’t want her to have to undergo anymore blood draws, catheters or spinal taps. And to be quite honest my mind was exhausted from the entourage of new words that had recently been added to my vocabulary. The light-hearted conversations that I usually had with my husband had been replaced with words like “PICC line”, “vesicostomy”, “VCUG”,  and “klebsiella”. And for once, I was finally hearing a word that made me feel like maybe, just maybe, Allison would have a normal life. After all, “normal” in my mind translated to “good health” and the more the surgeon talked the more I realized that our daughter was on her way to good health.

So now we are just waiting. Instead of having to go to the urologist every three months Allison gets to wait six months. Which means she will go back in July. And I can’t help but believe that she just might outgrow her kidney reflux. It’s a possibility. The doctors told us that the likelihood isn’t great, but as I type this today I know that the people that lived over two thousand years ago also thought that it was unlikely that Jesus was the Son of God. And He was. And He is. And those same people thought that it was unlikely that He rose from His grave even when they saw that His body was missing from the tomb. And just as I believe these things with all my heart about my risen Savior, I also believe that He has the ability to completely heal my daughter from the reflux that threatens her body with infections. So on this Good Friday I’m grateful for my good Father who has blessed me with a good life and our family with good health. Happy Easter friends!

 

 

Celebration of Life – Kidney Friends – Part 3

I’ve heard of God encounters before, but I wasn’t really sure that I had ever had one. I’ve since come to the realization that the reason I haven’t personally had such an experience is because I’ve never been alert to them. Needless to say…I am aware of them now. Something else I soon became aware of…a new phrase…”kidney friends”.

God Encounters and Kidney Friends

One particular God encounter happened the morning of June 1st, 2016. It was our third stay at the hospital and we had been there for a few weeks. My mom came into town to stay at the hospital with Allison so that Winston and I could spend the night at the Ronald McDonald House to get a good night of sleep. And boy were we thankful! Good sleep is what we got! The following morning, though, I woke up with a sense of urgency. I had been getting coffee at the hospital coffee shop, Holy Roast, each morning and I suddenly felt an intense need to discover the story behind their company name. After all, I figured it was a play on words from Holy Ghost, and I knew there was something really great behind it. I didn’t want to wake Winston up, but he heard me getting ready. “What are you doing?”, I heard him ask. “I’m just going back to the hospital, but don’t feel like you need to come with me. Just stay here and sleep”, I responded. He tried convincing me to stay a little longer. “Your mom is with her and I’m sure she’s fine with us sleeping a little longer”, he reasoned. When it was clear that I was going to leave anyway he insisted that he would come if I would just wait for him. I admit that was hard for me to do.

Baby Brennan in his hospital bed
Baby Brennan in his hospital bed

When I get something in my mind I have a hard time waiting. I waited, but I was anxious and my actions clearly reflected my desire to leave. “Why are you in such a hurry?”, he asked while I was rushing him out the door. “I’m on a mission”, was all I could say. While I felt that it was important for me to carry out my mission I wasn’t quite willing to tell Winston exactly WHY I was rushing him. I knew he would be pretty irritated with me if he knew that his sleep had been cut short because of a coffee shop name. As we walked across the parking lot that separates the Ronald McDonald House and Dell Children’s Hospital I found my short legs moving at a surprising pace. So much so that Winston, who happens to be six feet three inches tall, was having to work to keep up with me. “What is your deal? You never walk this fast?” he persisted. When I responded with the same answer of being on a mission he said, “What kind of mission?!” Realizing I couldn’t deflect anymore I told him what I was doing. In true Winston fashion he said, “Well, you know the guy is going to tell you that he just works there and doesn’t know the story of the name.” I told him that I didn’t care. I just knew I had to ask the question. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Okay.”

And so we continued to brisk-fully walk to the coffee shop where I asked the barista what the story was behind the name. And his answer…”I don’t know. I just work here.” I glanced at my husband who was smiling really big. I couldn’t help but smile myself. I mean it really was funny. I paid for my coffee and we walked the few steps to the elevators. The doors opened and we stepped onto the elevator followed by a young, energetic woman who was talking on her phone. That woman happened to be Brennan’s mom, Jenna. She was bubbly and full of life and we could quickly tell that she had a son in the hospital. And the more she talked the more we realized that her son was having similar issues as Allison. All the terminology that she was using was the exact terminology the doctors had been using to describe Allison’s condition. The elevator doors shut behind us and the woman realized she lost her phone connection shortly after. Bursting with excitement she turned to Winston and I and said, “I’m sorry. I’m just so excited. It’s the first time I’ve seen my son smile in weeks and I’m just so happy.” We told her we understood and shared with her that all the words she was using were the same words that had recently been added to our normal daily vocabulary. After briefly chatting with each other we discovered that both Allison and Brennan had kidney issues and were dealing with reoccurring UTIs and in Brennan’s case had severe infection issues in his kidneys that had been revealed before birth. We also found out that Brennan had recently had the same surgical procedure that Allison would be undergoing in a few days. As a side note, we later discovered that these two babies were the only two patients in the hospital with the same surgical procedure. Instant kidney friends!

Allison in the hospital with her little antenna PICC line
Allison in the hospital with her little antenna PICC line

I mean what are the odds?!? All I can tell you is that if we hadn’t rushed to the hospital to find out the story behind the coffee shop name then we would have missed meeting Jenna. It later hit me that I was in fact on a mission, but it wasn’t to discover the story behind a name. It was to meet up with a mom who could offer encouragement to me during a very scary time. This surgical procedure sounded strange to me and I wasn’t sure what to expect with it. Jenna, a first-time mom and more than ten years younger than me taught this thirty-five-year-old, third-time mom how to trust God with uncertain circumstances and how to embrace my child’s health issues without fear. And she did this by being transparent and by being herself. And so our friendship began. Not just friends, but kidney friends.

Next week we will wrap-up our Celebration of Life series with a post of Allison’s current health. If you’ve missed the previous posts explaining our fundraising efforts for Allison and Brennan’s first year of life be sure to catch up. The fundraiser will end April 5th, so all purchases made through that date will help benefit the Ronald McDonald House. And if you are going to be in San Saba on April 4th from 11am-1pm be sure to stop by Millican Pecan Company at 1101 W. Wallace for cake to celebrate with us. Thank you for being such a blessing to our family!!

Celebration of Life – Kidney Friends – Part 2

June 1st was like any other morning of my new motherhood journey: wake up with an awful back ache from the hospital beds, do part of my devotion, love on my baby and then realize I really need that cup of coffee to do devotions or love on the baby. My husband, Liam, is an Army Officer so I essentially did the whole hospital thing on my own, since we live over 70 miles from Dell. To combat the lingering loneliness of caring for a sick baby alone, I would call my mom while getting my coffee to update her and chat about at least some of the “normal” new mom stuff. Yet, I still made the same mistake every day—talking to her in the elevator, where I would, every day, lose cell service. Usually I was alone, but on June 1st, another couple noticed my faux-pas, so, out of nervous chatter, I told them about my life. This couple, was Kristen and Winston Millican. I was surprised when I found out baby Allison was being hospitalized for similar issues, and we actually shared a doctor since Brennan’s urologist was on vacation.

Our kidney friends Baby Brennan, Liam and Jenna
Baby Brennan, Liam and Jenna

I called Liam immediately to tell him that we made “kidney friends” and I couldn’t wait for him to visit us and meet them. It was very comforting to me to have a friend down the hall whom I could visit and also very special to see the familial support Kristen and Winston received during the hospital stays with Allison. I could not imagine doing that with two other kids back home! It was not that we did not have family support, but since our families and friends live over 1000 miles away, it was touching to see a family work together in such harmony.

Our friends Brennan and Jenna
Our friends Brennan and Jenna

Allison was having the same surgery that Brennan had just two weeks prior, and even though that surgery did not work for him (he had four more that June), I was able to show Kristen and Winston the surgery site and give them tips on caring for it. I now realize it was important for me to see God’s hand at work during such a trying time in our lives as, like Kristen, I do not believe in chance. Dell had become like a second home to us but it was even more special to spend my 23rd birthday with not only another kidney mom, but a new friend in a place that we still struggled to call home (we had only moved to Texas three months prior, two of those being in the hospital).

It was also no coincidence that just twenty days later, Kristen and I found ourselves back at Dell. She was able to sit through Brennan’s fifth surgery with me when Liam was unable to make it in time. Spoken prayer is so powerful, folks; and that is the gift Kristen was able to give me during a really frightening time in my life.  On a lighter note, she also gave us our first taste of real pecans and that, in a much smaller way, was also life changing!

The Ronald McDonald House was our home for about a month as well, in April when Brennan was in the NICU and will be again next year when Brennan gets two more surgeries. We are so thrilled to be a guest of a ministry-minded business that seeks to do God’s will with some delicious pecans in hand!  

As a reminder, Millican Pecan Company will be giving a portion of all sales from March 29th-April 5th to the Ronald McDonald House in honor of Allison and Brennan’s upcoming birthdays.

Read Part 1 of this story here: Celebration of Life for Two Precious Babies

Celebration of Life for Two Precious Babies

Our youngest daughter, Allison, is turning a year old on April 4th and we are getting ready for a big celebration of life! Why such a big celebration? Well, for our family it’s not just to have a party for her birthday. It’s really a time to thank God for some pretty big miracles that He has done this last year in our lives. The first four months of Allison’s life were filled with long hospital stays, reoccurring infections and a surgery that we were pretty apprehensive about. During those months we relied on FaceTime sessions and updates from our family to try and stay connected with our other two daughters. Even though we were walking through some really tough stuff we also saw God show up in some amazing ways during that time. One particular way was when we had the privilege of meeting baby Brennan. 

Winston rocking Allison in the hospital - celebration of life
Winston rocking Allison in the hospital

Brennan, who we found out is just five days older than Allison, was actually hospitalized at Dell Children’s Hospital at the same time as Allison. And not just for ONE of her hospital stays, but they were also fellow patients during another hospital stay. And if that wasn’t remarkable enough it gets even more amazing because they were both being hospitalized for kidney issues. You might be wondering how a chance meeting could take place and that’s my favorite part of this whole story. Some might call it chance, but as a Christian I have come to know that there is no such thing as chance. There is, however, such a thing as an amazing God who orchestrates the most incredible ways to connect people. And my husband and I have had the divine opportunity to experience a few such encounters. 

In the next few weeks I will share with you a progression of posts that will tell the story of our meeting and also go into more detail about the specifics of Allison’s condition. But for now I want to introduce Brennan’s mom, Jenna. She will be our guest post in a few days and I can’t tell you how excited I am that you will get to read part of her story. She and her husband, Liam, have had a hard introduction to parenthood. Brennan’s kidney problems are far from over, but I’ll let Jenna talk about that. She also happens to write about their lives on her blog where she shares openly and honestly about their lives.

In honor of Allison and Brennan’s upcoming birthdays Millican Pecan Company will be giving a portion of all sales from March 29th-April 5th to the Ronald McDonald HouseThe Ronald McDonald House Charities impacted both of our families at a time when we felt pretty helpless. It left a lasting impression on each of us and it is with great joy that we will now be able to give back to this organization.

We will also be serving cake and snacks at Millican Pecan Company’s store at 1101 W. Wallace in San Saba on April 4th from 11am-1pm. It’s a come and go celebration of life and we would love for you to join us. It will give us an opportunity to thank you in person for your prayers for Allison’s health this past year. Allison will be there to show her appreciation as well. And we have two guests that are planning to join us…Jenna and baby Brennan.

We want to thank you in advance for helping us with this celebration of life. You are helping Winston and I along with Liam and Jenna to honor what God has done in our babies’ lives so far. He has taken some really hard times for each of us and done some really amazing things. It’s with great joy that we take this time to give Him all the praise for it!

The Words That Impact Your Kids More Than You Ever Realize

I was listening to a podcast a few weeks ago that left me realizing that some of us live with words that impact us more than we may ever realize. The guest speaker said that the things we tell our children when they are young tend to be their inner voice when they are older. Think about that for a minute. The words that we tell our children when they are young tend to be their inner voice when they are older. I caught myself holding my breath after I heard those words. “What words will my children have playing over and over in their minds when they get older?” I thought.

Abby, Winston and Anna at the Daddy Daughter Dance
Abby, Winston and Anna at the Daddy Daughter Dance

“Will they be encouraging words? Words of affirmation or hope that challenge them to become women who live honorable lives? Will they be words that ignite a fire of passion within them causing them to strive to do more with the life they’ve been given? Or will they instead be tortured by an onslaught of negative words that leave them feeling defeated and unwilling to try? Words that cut them to the core and convince them that they are worthless?”

I was fortunate to grow up with parents who were careful to choose their words. They weren’t perfect and I know they made their fair-share of mistakes, but the words I remember them speaking to me were words of hope. They challenged me to live with a teachable heart. Realizing that I don’t have everything figured out and to embrace advice from others. They also encouraged me in the activities I participated in growing up. I was usually not the best in the activities I grew up participating in, but they helped me realize that the role I played was important and that progress was more valuable than being first.

Allison cheering for positive words that impact
Allison cheering for positive words that impact

These words that impact me have marked my life with optimism. They are the words that play over and over in my mind now as an adult when I am failing miserably at something. And when I am struggling with the storms of life these words help breath hope into me to assure me that God is trustworthy and is holding my hand whatever the circumstances.

But I know that so many people grow up with the exact opposite childhood. I’ve known some who grew up in homes with parents who never encouraged them and some whose parents also made them feel like their best was never enough. I’ve also known others whose home life was so abusive that they now have to push themselves to be willing to trust anyone. Because trust was broken in their lives by the people they should have been able to trust the most they now live with words that haunt them day in and day out. These words tell them that they will never amount to anything and on bad days they believe the lies.

Although I know my daughters are not being raised in an abusive environment I do acknowledge that positive words do not come out every time I open my mouth. As I asked myself these honest questions I paused and took some time to pray. “Lord, please help us to parent our children with Truth and be willing to enforce discipline when needed, but help us also to ensure that we don’t succumb to degrading and negative words when discipline is enforced that end up leaving them feeling less than capable of what You have planned for them.” I hope these words are helpful for you as they were for me. I think our kids need us to be willing to ask ourselves tough questions. It may be the very thing that provides them with hope-filled words that impact them throughout their adult lives.

Join the Century Tree Project

Have you ever heard of The Aggie Century Tree Project? I hadn’t until recently, but let me tell you I have become a proud supporter of this project. Trees hold a special place in the hearts of our family members. While we usually spend our time planting pecan trees, this year we are adding an oak tree to the mix.

The Century Tree at Texas A&M University
The Century Tree at Texas A&M University

And not just any oak tree, but a seedling from the Century Tree on Texas A&M University’s campus at College Station. The Aggie tradition says that if a marriage proposal takes place under this tree then the marriage will last forever. The Century Tree is a monumental site on campus and has witnessed countless proposals beneath it’s canopy of branches. One of which happens to be my very favorite proposal story. Mainly because it’s my own story, but one of the things I love about this story is that it’s not finished. In fact, I discovered another chapter being written just a few months ago.

It all started with our new neighbors that recently bought the property across the road from us.

Century Tree Project seedling close up
Century Tree Project seedling close up

We’ve been blessed with a really great community of people that live around us. Although we live in the country, I can go out to my front porch in the evenings and hear the faint sound of evening routines taking place. And every now and then I have the pleasure of catching up with them as we meet at our cluster of mailboxes at just the same time. This year as Christmas was approaching we were shocked that our new neighbors gave us a seedling from the Century Tree. They chose this gift because they wanted to support the tree project and because of their fellow ties to Texas A&M. They also knew that we love trees, but they had no idea that Winston actually proposed to me under this tree.

Winston and I on Aggie Ring Day
Winston and I on Aggie Ring Day

Sometimes I’m amazed at how God chooses to write the stories of our lives. Many times when I have forgotten the specifics of an event in my past He will bring it up again. It’s as if He’s whispering to me, “I haven’t forgotten and I think it’s time to revisit that monument.” So I’ve spent some time reminiscing and I’m so glad I did. I even found this picture of Winston and I at Aggie Ring Day.

Our time at Texas A&M was incredibly special and I’m grateful that we will now have a part of Aggieland growing in our yard. I think I will be reminded each time I look at this tree that our marriage is worth protecting and that it needs to last a lifetime. And one day when we get to rest under the shade of it’s branches I hope to remember that the journey of our marriage first began beneath similar branches. If you are interested in the Aggie Century Tree Project you can find out more here. It’s a wonderful way to help raise scholarship funds for a deserving Texas A&M student while also promoting horticulture.

School Backpack Finds

I don’t know about you, but about once a week or once every other week I try to clean out my five-year-old’s backpack. She is what some people might consider a hoarder. And when I say “some people” I’m actually referring to myself. Empty snack wrappers, crumbled up papers, pencils upon pencils, and some toys every now and then are just some of the treasures that I usually find in her school backpack. But this last week I was surprised to find something new. Something she’s never collected before. And I just have to share it with you.

While the girls were getting ready for school I picked Abby’s backpack up and was shocked at how heavy it was. I was trying to imagine what could possibly be in there that was making it so heavy. It certainly was much heavier than her usual treasures. I mean truly….I’m not sure how she was lugging the thing around. When I opened it up I discovered that about a third of the school backpack was filled with a mixture of pecans and rocks. Most of the rocks had worked their way to the bottom of the bag and the majority of the pecans were sitting on top.

Pecans and rocks from Abby's school backpack
Pecans and rocks from Abby’s school backpack

I couldn’t help but laugh. I’m sure most kids have brought rocks home from the school playground at some point during their elementary years, but my guess is that most kids don’t have access to pecans on their playground. But we live in San Saba, Texas known as “The Pecan Capital of the World”, so pecan trees happen to be a common item on our school playgrounds.  When I asked Abby about the pecans and rocks she said, “Oh yeah! I found them at school. I told my friends that we all needed to get the pecans for my Momma because she needs them for her work, so they all helped me.” With a smile I replied, “Oh, that’s so sweet Abby. What about the rocks?” She just shrugged her shoulders and said, “Well, I just like the rocks. Those are for me.” 

Pretty cute if I do say so myself! I mean really! Instead of being caught up in her own little world she is clearly observing others around her and being aware of their needs.

Pecans from Abby's school backpack
Inshell Pecans from Abby’s school backpack

And then she takes it a step further by figuring out how she can help. I’m not sure that I should necessarily take credit for teaching her these things, but I am so proud of her. And the person she chose to help was me! I was touched. And so I accepted those pecans from her. I helped her to retrieve them from her school backpack and used them in some of my baking. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been so proud of a few handful of pecans in my whole life. If you don’t have pecans at your local elementary playground no need to worry. Millican Pecan can fix you right up!

Coconut Pecan Dream Bars

It’s a dreamy world when pecans and coconut collide, so when my friend, Kassy, shared this recipe with me I knew it would be just the thing to help make my dreamy world a reality! I enjoyed a generous portion with a nice, hot cup of Millican Pecan’s Butter Pecan Coffee. Oh my goodness, just mentioning it makes me want to stop writing right now and go brew a pot. Must. Stay. Focused.

I hope you enjoy this dessert as much as I do!

When pecans and coconut collide

Coconut Pecan Dream Bars

1 box Graham Crackers

2 sticks Butter

2 cans Sweetened Condensed Milk

(1) 16 oz. Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

1 small bag Coconut Flakes

2 cups Pecan Pieces

Place the graham crackers in a bag and finely crush them. Then pour them into the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan. Melt the butter and pour over the graham crackers. Using your hands combine the butter and crackers together. Then begin to pat the mixture down to form a crust on the bottom of the pan.

Next, pour one can of sweetened condensed milk over the graham cracker crust and spread evenly with a spatula. Now your next layer will be half of the semi sweet morsels, and then top it off with a layer of coconut using only half of the bag. Take 1 cup of Pecan Pieces and evenly spread them out. Then repeat the layering process beginning with the chocolate, pecans and coconut and then ending with the other can of sweetened condensed milk.

Bake in a preheated over at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Allow to cool down, and then cut into bars. Yields 24 bars.

You can find more great recipes here. And if a light lunch is what you need try this Chicken Salad recipe. It’s a great way to balance out the richness of this pecans and coconut dessert.

 

Love Grows Best

Love Grows Best

When I was little I loved Doug Stone’s song “Little Houses”. There was something that resonated in me every time I heard that song. I haven’t thought about it in a long time, until recently when my close friend, Jamie, brought it to mind. She mentioned to me that she saw a sign recently with the words “Love grows best in little houses” and that the sign made her think of our house. As soon as she said those words I had this tug at my heart. Kind of like the feeling you get when you think of your kids and how they are growing up too fast. Or the same feeling you get when you see an old childhood friend that you haven’t seen in awhile. So, naturally, I had to listen to the song again. And that’s when I was reminded of the sweet lyrics.

Love grows best in little houses
With fewer walls to separate
We eat and sleep so close together
We can’t help but communicate
Oh and if we had more room between us
Think of all we’d miss
Love grows best in houses just like this

Winston and I on our front porch
Winston and I on our front porch

Now I don’t want to come across like things are picture perfect in our little house. As a matter-of-fact, sometimes we can’t help but communicate in less than lovely ways. After all, in a small house the words of this song may ring true, but the opposite scenario is also undeniable. While close quarters can certainly promote a deep, sincere love among family members those same small residences have the ability to create some natural tensions. Sometimes the communication in our family reaches a volume that is at an intensity no one appreciates and there are many times when the words uttered from our mouths are seriously lacking the love we have for each other. But, in an effort to work through our imperfections, we try our best to forgive.

Allison, Anna and Abby hugging in our dining room
Allison, Anna and Abby hugging in our dining room

Although I live in a little house and there are, in fact, few walls that separate us, I really think the last phrase of this song is my favorite…”Love grows best in houses just like this”. Because whether you live in a little house, like mine, or you get to call a much larger house your home the truth remains that love has the ability to grow best right where you are…in the house just like yours.

Whatever type of house is our home is not the main point. It’s what we are doing within that home to cultivate love within our family and the fact that we have been equipped with the ability to love them in just the way that they need to be loved. No one else can do that quite like we can. And when we rise up to embrace whatever role we play in our home to the best of our ability we will, in fact, see that love grows best in houses just like this.

 

Pecan Conservationist Thoughts

It just hit me the other day that I am a part of a pecan conservationist family. It all started when we were gathering up wood to build a fire. We had invited some friends over for dinner and I was determined that we would also spend some of our time around a campfire. My husband LOVES when I come up with ideas like this! 😉

So, off he went with his friend, Jeremy, to round up some wood in the orchard below our house. Not just any wood. Pecan wood to be exact. Branches that had fallen from most of the pecan trees dispersed throughout the orchard. This time of year is when we usually have a good number of limbs on the ground due to the recent harvest. Most of them are small in size making them great for kindling, but some of them are bigger and make perfect logs for a fire. And that’s when it hit me. This concept that in us lies the heart of a pecan conservationist.

A pecan conservationist campfire
Our campfire using Pecan Wood

To be sure of this, though, I decided to look up the definition of the word ‘conservation’. I found out that it is ‘the ethical use and protection of valuable resources, such as trees, minerals, wildlife, water and others. It focuses on maintaining the natural world in order to protect the sources of resources’. (Emphasis mine) “Precisely!! That’s what we are doing!”, I thought. We are protecting the valuable resources that have been entrusted to us. We would never find a perfectly healthy pecan tree and cut it down just to make a fire for our recreation. But we do have to periodically clean the orchard of any fallen debris. These limbs would be picked up anyway in order to protect the trees from mold and diseases that can damage their health. So instead of going out and buying wood for our campfire we are using the resources that are provided to us from our very livelihood.

I think it boils down to being intentional. For us, to be conscientious about all aspects of pecan usage so that we are not wasteful. Every aspect…from the ground that brings life for each pecan tree, to the pecan tree itself, to the branches that fall periodically, to the very nut that it produces. And that’s not to even mention the parts that make up the pecan. Because in actuality, each part of the pecan has different uses too. The shells can be used for mulch in a flower bed or for smoking a mouth-watering brisket on a barbecue pit. The nut inside, when shelled, produces varying sizes that have endless uses as well. From the delicate candy adornment that pecan halves provide for your favorite candy recipe to the role that pecan meal plays as an essential ingredient in a gluten-free meal for your daughter with Celiac disease.

This is what a pecan conservationist does. He or she is intentional about preserving the heritage of the pecan, so that it will continue to enrich the lives of generations to come. We strive to ensure that there is no waste in the use of this valuable resource because it has so much to offer each one of us. And so this is a good reminder for us to work with focus each day to make sure we are carrying out our role as pecan conservationist. And for those of you reading this today we invite you to join us in this effort. Maybe you have pecan trees in your yard at home or possibly you are in the process of planting a pecan orchard on a plot of land you recently purchased? Whatever may be the case…within you, too, lies the same potential, so let’s not wait another day!