Shelling the Last Pecan…

The last pecan, all by its lonesome self...

The last pecan, all by its lonesome self…

Today marks a small milestone for me: I have shelled the last pecan I had harvested from my four pecan trees last year.  This has taken an enormous amount of work over the past four to five months to complete as all of the pecans were cracked by hand.  All I have to say is that I have a great respect for the people who did this sort of for a living before the invention of mechanical nut cracker.  I doubt that I would have lasted.  At the very least, my hands would have been destroyed by the work.

The nine quart-jars of pecans I have in my pantry.

The nine quart-jars of pecans I have in my pantry.

The final result is twelve full quarts of shelled pecans.  Three of the jars were used for pecan pies for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so only nine are currently in the pantry.  I see several pecan pies in my future this year.  I will also be on the lookout for more recipes that use pecans and I will snack on some of these.  It is a good thing that I will be getting more pecans later this year, as these will be gone before too long.

I have a five gallon bucket full of pecan shells that I plan on turning into charcoal.  I haven’t been making much charcoal recently because the weather has alternating between warm enough to do work outside and too cold to do much outside.  When the weather is warm, I’ve worked until the sun goes down and that doesn’t leave much time for getting the needed wood together to run the fire.  And when it is cold, I don’t want to be outside for long, even if there is a blazing fire nearby.

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Not Much Happens in Winter with a Garden

I haven’t written a post in over two months, which is not something I should be doing.  Big gaps are a large annoyance with other people’s blogs and I am positive that they are following this blog don’t like it.  It is just that sometimes there is not really that much to write about, or I’m not looking hard enough at what I am doing and then writing about it.  Probably the latter.  So, time to make up some lost ground with giant post that covers the past two months…

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Sad, dead tomato plants.

Shortly after the first frost of the year, the second frost came in and killed all the remaining tender plants.  There is nothing I can do but rip them up and throw them in the compost pile.  I might be able to get row covers for next year, but it is not very high on the list of things to buy.

Elephant garlic emerged in late October.

Elephant garlic emerged in late October.

I got a bit of a surprise when the elephant garlic I thought was dead decided to emerge from the ground.  Only half of the plants actually survived, the others are truly dead.

I also decided to plant some standard garlic I picked up at a farmer’s market stand.  As of my last check, 18 plants are still alive and growing very slowly in the winter sun.

The shelled and unshelled pecans.

The shelled and unshelled pecans.

The main thing that has been consuming my time is pecans.  Picking them up off the ground and then shelling them.  There are just so many of them and they are all rather small that it takes a long time to get anywhere.  It takes me about ten to twelve hours of cracking to fill up a quart jar with shelled pecans.  So far, I have managed to fill just over five quarts, two of which have already been eaten.

I had both mine and my wife’s family over at my house this year for Thanksgiving, which was both nice and very hectic.  Some of the pecans  were made into a very good pecan pie and the pumpkin that decided to grow out of the compost pile was used in making pumpkin pie.

Old bee frames I found in the attic.

Old bee frames I found in the attic.

While digging around in the attic to get the Christmas lights down, I came across very interesting two things: several boxes filled with glass jars and parts of bee frames.  I can only guess that one of the previous owners of the house was also a beekeeper and left some parts here at one point.  The frames clearly look old, but I have no clue as to how old.  I have a few frames in my hives that look as old and need to be replaced with new ones, so these could be fairly recent.

Garden is Finally Doing Something Again

Finally, some more bean pods.

I just got back from a week-long trip for work and came back to find that the beans are putting out pods once more.  The last round of beans I planted were pretty much a dud as I got not even a full handful of beans out of the crop.  So far, this is looking to be my largest crop yet.  The plants are packed in much closer than my first attempt at beans and there are flowers on everything.  Some of the last round of beans  decided to start flowering as well, so I will probably end up getting a some beans from that as well.

One double row and a partial single row of pinto beans.  There is communal bee feeder  at the very top of the picture.

The two latest plantings were both directly seeded into the ground in double- and single-rows. I am liking how this is turning out much better than my first plantings started in the greenhouse and I will probably be doing this for all but very earliest crops started before the chance of frost has completely passed.  I think that I will be doing that from now on to try and get as much in before the high summer heat stops everything from producing fruit.

Flowering chives. I hope I can get some seeds off of this.

When my grandparents came to visit, they left me with a bunch of chives in addition to other plants and flowers.  Regardless of what I get out of this plant, the flowers are quite beautiful. I think it was worth getting for just for that.

Once the summer heat wave broke and we were no longer dealing with highs of 115, the plants have sprung back quickly and the flowers are seem to be trying to make up for lost time.  I’ve seen more growth in the past couple of weeks than I have in the rest of the time I’ve had them.  It makes me hopeful that I’ll have some really nice flowers to show off next year.

The pecans are getting nice and big as the harvest starts getting closer.

After I finish with harvesting all the apples, the only tree harvest remaining will be the pecans.  This will be the first pecan harvest I have here.  I’ve had one other place that I have lived where there was a pecan tree, and that produced a freezer full of pecans from a single, giant tree.  I don’t think that any of the trees I have will produce that much, but I do have four trees, so I might end up with more pecans.

A bunch of bees and one wasp on the communal feeder.

While I was gone on my business trip, my brother in law stopped by to build a communal hive feeder and to do inspections.  This should make it quite a bit easier to provide large quantities of feed to the hives without a lot of work.

During the inspections, it looks like the blue hive has no eggs in it.  This may be because the queen stopped laying, or because the queen died.  I hope it is just the first.  But to be safe, a frame of brood has been moved from one of the other hives so the bees are able to raise a new queen if the old queen died.