We got home from church last Sunday to discover that it was cotton pickin’ time in Longview! Our cousins were picking cotton in the field right next to our house. This is the kids’ favorite, so they changed into play clothes lickety-split and headed out to the action!
We’re not the only ones that love the action and equipment. Our cousins are lucky to have plenty of help, running several tractors at once. So I’ve got pictures of it, but keep in mind that each of these steps is going on simultaneously. It’s quite a dusty racket!
First the combine picks the cotton. This is the front of the combine with a cotton picking “head”. The same body is used to pick corn, wheat, and soybeans, but they change the front head and the collection basket for each crop.
The cotton is sucked into the front and spit into the bucket or buggy on the back. (Like my scientific terminology?)
When the bucket on the back of the combine gets full, a tractor pulls a cotton buggy around beside it…
…And the combine dumps it’s load into the cotton buggy and keeps on gettin’ it down the field.
Then the cotton buggy is pulled around to the cotton module…
…And it dumps it’s load into the cotton module (or “cotton module builder”).
We like to call the cotton module the “cotton pounder.” It’s just walls, no floor, and they keep dumping c0tton in until it starts getting full. Then those rods sticking up become sort of like pistons, going up and down, up and down, pounding the cotton down into one big bale.
Meanwhile another tractor is mowing the empty stalks down.
This gets even dustier, so about now the kids high-tailed it home for lunch.
But I don’t want to leave you high and dry in the middle of picking cotton–so I’ve hunted up a couple other photos to show you the rest.
Once the cotton is pounded into one big bale the module is just moved forward (remember, no bottom!) and the bale is tarped.
The farmers continue the process over and over, until the whole field is picked–just moving the module forward for each new bale. Our field next door produced 5 bales. Then the cotton gin sends trucks to pick up the bales. The trucks (called cotton haulers) have a “crawler” bottom that pulls the cotton bale off the ground and up into the truck for transport.
And off they go!
On their way to becoming clothes and Q-tips for us! On our pumpkin patch field trip, Farmer Dee-Dee told the kids that all our clothes start at the farm, not at the store. Ever since, the Cowboy has been a little obsessed with knowing where his underwear came from. Hopefully he’ll drop it now that he knows they came from the field next door.