I think cotton is my favorite crop. As someone who doesn’t grow any crops, anyway.
I love the way it grows tall and dark green (compared to soybeans anyway), the pretty pink and blue summer flowers, the way the bulbs form, and then slowly fill, until they start to burst at the seams…
I’m not a big fan of the smell when the farmers start spraying the defoliation stuff. Or when the plants turn all brown and stick-like and the cotton hangs out like wisps of trash…But I find the harvest part enthralling too. It was all new to me when we moved here.
I’ve written about cotton harvesting before. At least, my understanding of the process–we don’t grow cotton ourselves and I’m sure there’s lots of details and nuances that I totally missed. But the part I missed with my last post was the final load up of the giant bales.
Well, this time I got it!
The bale truck comes from the cotton gin and picks up the bales from the field. If you look close, you can see that the bottom of the truck has a chain-drive track. The truck backs up to the bale and the track starts pulling the bale into the truck and the truck keeps backing up slowly until it’s all in there.
I was so excited. These are the kinds of things about farming that people who are from here take for granted and people who are not from here find amazing! Before meeting Mr. Fix-It, moving here and seeing it, I had no idea that cotton was compressed into these huge bales. Or that they has special trucks to carry them around in. Or that you could only carry one per truck so every bale was a separate load.
Actually, I don’t remember learning anything at all about how modern farming is conducted in school until college. The closest thing we got was a picture of slaves picking cotton by hand when we studied the Civil War in American History class.
If you homeschool, this would be a great time to have arranged a few farm visits. If you don’t know where to start with that, I would contact our local Extension Agent or the Extension office in a locality that you know has a vibrant farm community to connect with. You could also track down the number and call the local cotton gin and see if a tour would be an option. (This is something I’m working on as the “last link” in understanding the process for our kiddos.)
The same would be true for any of the grains. You’d be looking for a local mill or granary. Just remember, “local” is probably relative. Another avenue for finding and connecting with these businesses could be the local Economic Development office (they probably know these folks already).
A 3rd idea if you’re looking for resources would be to look up your local u-pick or pumpkin-patch operation, or farmers market booth. In our community, those smaller-scale uses are often an add-on to a full-scale commercial operation and those farmers know about a whole lot more than just when the strawberries are ripe or what pumpkins go in pumpkin pie.
Have you seen any harvesting this year?