The commencement of fall marks the yearly tradition of harvesting pecans around Brown County. Big commercial orchards have modernized and tend to use the newest machinery to harvest but smaller family operated orchards in the area have found it harder to harvest as their yearly revenue makes it cost prohibitive to purchase harvesting machinery. This has resulted in several area orchards looking for solutions to be able to harvest while maintaining operating cost at rates that will yield profits. Several area orchards think they may have thought of the solution by recruiting employees from local nursing homes. “Why we didn’t think about this before is beyond me, these valued members of society are just sitting there napping their last remaining years away because no one believes they can do a task anymore but we believe they could really contribute to making Brown County better. They can work long hours, they can’t really complain much, and technically it’s legal to pay them slightly below minimum wage since we’ve been certified by the US Department of Labor to hire workers with disabilities and old age technically counts.” notes area orchard owner James Presley.
Other area orchards have come out to assure the public that their loved ones will be taken care of and have provisions made to expand breaks to 16 minutes twice an hour complete with pillows in case of a desired nap, transportation to and from worksite to avoid their dreaded driving, provide wheelchair assessable portable toilets, and soon to be certified nursing students to dispense medications for those that may need them. “ What they do with their breaks is their business. We have read numerous studies that show that napping makes you a better worker, but once the bell rings we really need them to resume harvesting since the season is short,” said ranch hand Terry Lyons.
Some area residents don’t seem so convinced, “I’m not sure how anyone thinks this is a smart idea, you’re basically taking these individuals that have been out of the work place for years and injecting them back in, thereby displacing other season workers that would have otherwise been employed, in my opinion it’s just a way for those greedy orchard owners to buy themselves fancier BMW’s,” said local citizen Will Boardman.
Like it or not, it appears that come Fall, Brown county residents should expect to see local Nursing homes empty and pecan orchards being harvested like a well oiled machine.