People who know the Lubbock area probably know the place I'm talking about, out on the south edge of town going west, on the south side of the road, you run into this place that will shell your pecans, and they sell all kinds of pecan-related things: pecan bars, pecan candies, pecan mulch. I love everything about the place. I took them 26 pounds of pecans and they shelled them all for $23, giving me 26 pounds back, all in two bags, no shells in them anymore, I presume. Since pecans are ordinarily about eleven dollars a pound, I figure I saved about two hundred bucks getting out there on my hands and knees and picking them up, though I doubt I'd buy 26 pounds in a single year if it weren't for the novelty of being able to have them shelled. On the spot I gave them another thirteen pounds, and they said they'd be ready about September. I'm wondering if I'll have any of my 26 pounds left, when September rolls around. My plan is to give some away to relatives, saying that they are home-picked Texas pecans. Which they are. I'm very proud of them.
I started in with the owner about the mulch, and he gladly shared a few large handfuls with me. There are two kinds; one, he has a waiting list two years long for; it's rough, but it's highly valued, and they use it for all kinds of things. To make dyes and to make sculptures were two uses he mentioned that I remembered. The other kind is finer; it's more like mulch for your roses, and that's the kind he gave me; he said it was acidic but the roses liked it.
But then I asked him about using it on the roads in the icy season. He hadn't heard of that, and asked me where I'd heard it. I saw it, I said, in Pittsburg, Kansas, many years back. Turns out the guy was born in Pittsburg, Kansas. Still, he'd never heard of the practice. It had snowed hard one time and it was all iced up out there, and they put these pecan shells down; it would have been the rough kind. The cars kind of ground it into the ice, and it made a wonderful sound. It also worked, because ice was slick, but the rough shells had sharp edges that cut right into it, and the dirt from when it was ground up cut right into the ice. It was impressive.
He said that when they first started up that business they had way too much mulch and didn't know what to do with it. Now, they have no trouble getting rid of it at all. Lots of people are dying to put it on their roses, and in pincushions, and in lots of other things. Still, it was nice for him to just give me some; it smells good, and I'm sure it will work fine on our flowers. Acidic, maybe, but definitely the right texture.
I'm aware that they use "beet heet" these days, and cheese whey, on the roads, wanting spread that is more ecological than just salt. I stand by pecan shells. It's partly that I have a general harmony with the whole feeling of them, and am especially impressed that they seem to be abundant in the area; I didn't have too much competition, picking them up.