By Jessica Domel

If you’ve been on Facebook at all lately, you’ve most likely seen dozens of posts from people who are part of an ongoing project during the month of November where they post each day about things for which they are thankful. I haven’t joined in yet, but I think the project has merit.

There are so many things to be thankful for each and every day. Currently, I’m thankful that Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching. I’m craving a piece of my aunt’s delicious pecan pie.

Have you ever seen a pecan harvest? Our family has pecan trees, but I’ve never really thought about the people who grow the pecans that we buy in the store. I recently visited a pecan orchard, and let me tell you, it’s more labor-intensive than you think.

Pecan farmers maintain their trees by cutting back limbs, making sure they’re properly irrigated and protecting them from disease.

And the harvesting process is pretty entertaining. First of all, there’s a whole host of equipment that is used to prepare the pecans for purchase.

My favorite one was this one:

The machine wraps around the base of the tree and shakes it for a minute or so as pecans rain to the ground. It’s a sight to see!

After watching the process, my first thought was, “Yeah, but how do they get the pecans off the ground?”

There’s a machine for that, too, apparently. This is it:

This machine picks up pecans and blows out dirt, leaves and other debris.

The pecans are then taken by a trailer to another piece of machinery that sorts the good and bad pecans. Good pecans go on the conveyor belt and into a bag. Bad pecans are given the old heave-ho. But even those pecans don’t go to waste. I’m told hunters use them as bait. Who knew?

Next, the pecans make the trek to another machine that sorts them by size. This is what it looks like:

The pecans are deposited at the upper left-hand corner of the machine and sorted so that they fall in the bins according to their size.

This is the part that gets me—all of these steps have to take place before the pecans are sold to bakers to make their yummy pies.

So this week, friends, I am thankful for the pecan growers who make the traditional pecan pie possible. My tastebuds thank you.

What are you thankful for? Leave us a comment and let us know!