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Sticks, leaves and dirt...OH MY!

Almonds are harvested off a tree, where we shake them on the ground. Then they are swept into rows and picked up. Sounds like a fairly easy and simply process but there are a lot of moving parts with several steps and processes along the way.


If you start with shaking a tree, the vibrations don't just knock the almonds off the tree but of course any loose sticks or leaves will also fall too. This could cause a problem when it comes to sweeping the nuts. The sticks could get caught in the sweeper brushes and maybe even get caught up in the irrigation hoses.


Once the nuts are in the rows and the harvester is set to run through to pick up the almonds, those sticks could be troublesome again. The harvester will generally have to run at a slower speed through the field as to allow for the sticks to not get caught up in the series of belts that carry the almonds up. When the harvester empties the almonds into the shuttle cart and further on the elevator, sticks can clog up belts and c…

The empty chair

There are a million things on my mind and I don't know how to transfer them to words. Sometimes it is easier to write my feelings, then to speak them. As a writer, I am supposed to be good at translating thoughts, emotions, and ideas into words. Lately, all my thoughts are emotions. I am filled with emotions, sadness, and heartache. I am left with wordless paper, keypads with no letters and nothing on my mind but the empty chair.

My birthday is this week. Usually, I make it a birthday week or weeks, sometimes even a whole month. Birthdays to me, are a time of celebration, party, and rejoice. I loved celebrating birthdays growing up. It was always so fun. I got to pick a place to go out to dinner, what kind of dessert I wanted, and it was all about me. When there was a break in harvest, we would go up to the family cabin for a long weekend and relax, go on bike rides, fish and just hang out as family. My birthday usually falls on Labor Day weekend, so it was always a longer weekend of birthday celebrations.




Growing up as a harvest baby, I got used to having to celebrate my birthday a little later sometimes. But, I was also blessed that my family still took time to all come to my birthday parties. Family is important to me, and it was growing up too. I remember my Dad and Uncles taking a quick break from harvest for a few hours to come to my birthday party. Even if it was just to grab a bite to eat and slice of cake, before they had to go back to the huller or jump back on equipment. I was so grateful they took time out of their busy harvest day to come celebrate me.




Nothing changed as I grew up, my birthday still falls during harvest and my birthday dinners are often delayed or rescheduled for harvest. Now, there is commonly a break between Nonpareil and pollinators so we can pencil in a little birthday celebration. Last weekend, we were able to run up north to see my Mom and watch my nieces at the county fair for a quick weekend trip. It was great to be able to spend some much needed family time. Family is even more important now.




But, it still just isn't the same. My birthday this year is different. Instead of joy, happiness and excitement to celebrate my birthday I feel sadness, resentment and a desire to close off people. No matter who my husband wants to invite to birthday dinner or where he chooses to go, someone will be missing. No matter how busy I am trying to keep myself and how many deadlines or piles on my desk I may have, I can only think of one thing.


This year, my Dad wont be here to celebrate with me. Grieving sucks. It is a long road that doesn't have a road map. There is no way to get around it. There will be an empty chair at my birthday dinner that no one will be able to replace. They don't make this process easy. Pictures, thoughts, furniture, things I do, things my kids do, ways my daughter looks, everything reminds me of you.



When something exciting happens, I want to call you. When I have an interview, I want to bounce ideas off you. When Mom doesn't answer her phone as usual, I want to call you. When I am worried about something, I want to call you. When I am nervous, I want to call you. When I miss you, I want to call you.



I know he is looking down on me and can see my sadness. I would give anything for one last hug, kiss, to hear him laugh, to hear his voice, to just see him one more time. As I get ready to celebrate my birthday this weekend, I'll be looking at that empty chair and missing you.








Love you Daddy.






Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny









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