(performance captured in rapid motion 16 min)
I planted the trees on my family’s farm at the age of five with my dad and. Dad would prepare the ground while we were at school and when we returned he would place the tree while we surrounded its roots with dirt. Walnuts were our primary crop. We had several varieties including Chandler, Hartley, Tulares and Vinas. It took us nearly three weeks to plant the farm, nearly one thousand trees. Once they were sealed in the ground we then had to prime the trees with white paint. You paint the stump up to the neck to protect the trees early skin from the sun and from bugs. I grew up caring for the trees throughout the seasons: pruning as needed, going out at odd hours of the night to hold the flashlight while my dad irrigated and picking the walnuts by during the early years of harvest. My parents both had day jobs, dad worked graveyard at a tire factory and my mom was a high school Spanish teacher. With four daughters, the farm was an investment in our future and the place where we would gain a strong work ethic, appreciation for the land and learn to drive a truck at the age of 8. My dad taught me how to put the vehicle in drive and reverse creeping slowly through the rows after a big pruning. Because my older sister did not get the hang of driving early on, my job was to cruise through the field slowly as she loaded the truck bed with branches. I have come to learn that the average walnut tree can grow to be a century old. The trees on my farm suffered an early death at the tender age of 28, in large part due to the drought.