Have you ever thought about what life will be like eight years from now? In eight years it will be 2029. I will be 49 years old. My daughter, Dotty, will be 21. Wow. I need to read that again!

In eight years (if all goes as planned) I will have experienced my child leaving middle school for high school, graduating high school, going off to college, and quite possibly getting close to being finished with her college degree. I have no doubts that during those eight years she will go on dates, go to proms, go to parties and go to anything that sounds like fun. Dotty likes to go! Knowing her, she will play in lots of sporting events where we will celebrate the victories and endure the defeats. If life goes as she hopes, she will be playing college softball somewhere eight years from now and I too hope I am driving to stadiums to watch her!

In eight years, I am sure I will meet many new friends and quite possibly lose a few as well. My heart can’t bear to think what eight years will bring to me in terms of my family. I have grandparents who are 86 years old now and it is hard to imagine a time when they might not be around, but then again I also think they might outlive us all just to prove a point. I may still live in Iowa Park or I may do what I have threatened to do, and sell my house to follow Dotty off to college. (She is less than thrilled about that long term plan even now at 13 years old.)

I will probably have had a few different hair styles in the span of eight years, maybe a few different hair colors as well, and quite possibly lived through cutting bangs at least once. I may even be remarried at that point but only God knows if there is a man out there who can live with me and my cat, Rae.

Eight years can seem like a very long time in many ways, but in some it can feel too short. A lot can happen in eight years, eight months, eight days, or even eight seconds. Lives change in an instant but they also change over time. You might be wondering why I picked eight years and not five, ten, or twenty.

Eight is a significant number for my family. It takes roughly eight years from the time we plant a pecan tree until it begins to produce pecans we can commercially harvest for our stores. Very soon our orchard crew will begin the planting process. Orchards will be laid out, irrigation systems will be put in place, holes will be dug and the trees will arrive. Depending on how many we decide to plant each year, this determines how long the planting process takes. Some years we only replace dead trees, but some years we plant new orchards that can be several thousand trees in size.

Once the tree is planted we don’t just walk away and come back eight years later. We water, fertilize, and manage the trees just like we do the other 25,000 that are in production now. For eight years we pour money, time, and resources into a tree that doesn’t have the ability yet to give back. It’s a long term investment for sure. In fact, even my dad at 68 years of age says he isn’t sure he will see the trees we plant this year ever make a crop. He is planting something for a future, but quite possibly not his own. He is planting for his family…for my brother and me, our families, and for future generations.

The trees we originally planted back in 1986 are now 35 years old. They are healthy and produce great crops of pecans for us and they have many good years left in them.

So as pecan farmers, we know that what a tree eventually gives back to us is more than we put into each one. For eight years we do all the giving but for possibly 50 or more years after that the trees bear the fruits (or in our case the nuts) of our labor of love.

Some people may ask why would we continue to plant trees; isn’t 25,000 a good round number? Yes…and no. My family loves what we do. We love our orchards, our stores, our staff, and our customers. We have big goals and big dreams and they all usually have about an eight-year plan.

Lots can happen in eight years or sixteen or twenty-four. Twenty-four years from now I will be close to my dad’s current age, if the good Lord is willing. And I too will be making plans for a future I might not be a part of, but one in which I still want to invest.

Labor of Love
by Jill Montz

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