Planting trees Millican sisters in the pecan orchard

Planting Trees: Civilization in our Souls

The Millicans

The man who plants a tree has civilization in his soul, or so this was the truth according to our great-great grandfather. Now, more than one hundred twenty years later our family is still living out this motto. Our great-great grandparents knew a thing or two about planting trees, pecan trees in particular. They planted the first pecan orchard below their house in the late 1800s.

Our great-grandmother and her sister picking pecans under the young pecan trees[That historical pecan orchard still stands today and can be seen from the front yard of their homestead overlooking the San Saba and Colorado Rivers. Each hole for the trees was dug by hand and then carefully placed in the ground. Their children played a role in the development of the orchard as well. Their job was to ensure that every tree was watered. This was no easy task. In fact, it required that they walk down the riverbank with a bucket in each hand and fill the buckets up with water.

Planting Trees in the 1800’s

I can only imagine how tedious a process this must have been. Thinking about it now I can just picture these kids working with all their might to climb up the steep riverbank. No easy task, for sure, with heavy buckets full of water in tow. I’m sure they got used to it after awhile, but initially, it must have been quite comical as they slipped several times on their way down and back up the slope as water and dirt eventually turn to mud. Yes, I’m sure our great grandmother and her siblings were covered in mud once this chore was completed, that is if they are anything like most children.

They then proceeded to walk to each seedling tree and water them by hand until their buckets were empty. Then the process started all over again. Things have changed over the years. We are fortunate to have tractors incorporated into our operation now. These large machines do a remarkable job of digging each hole for us while making it look like a rather effortless task. We then place each seedling tree in the newly dug hole and hold it in place. Another crew member comes along to pack the soil in around the roots. A truck carrying a thousand-gallon tank of water makes its way along the row after planting the trees and waters each tree individually.

Planting Trees Today

Time has brought some much-appreciated improvements. But we still value the importance of our children being a part of the process. They may not have to take the long trek down the riverbank to fetch the water. But they do enjoy packing the dirt around the base of the trees. They also love riding on the water trailer. Their job is to lower the hose to the base of the tree for the watering process. Occasionally when we walk around the orchard you might just see them wrapping their arms around a tree trunk. It’s a way to express their love and excitement for the fruits of their labor.

The process of planting trees and maintenance of them has certainly progressed over the years. We can attest to the fact that there is still a feeling of peace or civilization while planting these beautiful pecan trees.

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