Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Another Harvest



As I drive down our country roads I've been noticing how many of the cotton boles are popping open and it's only mid-August! There was a time when mid to late September was early for harvesting cotton but with the new varieties and this awful heat we've been having, those cotton pickers will be hogging the highways and byways sooner than usual this year.

I can remember cotton pickin time on Grandpa's farm when I was a kid and it sure was different from what it is now. Huge, half million dollar machines do the work in a few weeks today that used to take months to be done by hand back then, of course the farms were MUCH smaller then. Grandpa had 80 acres and I believe about half of that was in cotton.

His cotton pickers arrived in the back of a couple of old pickup trucks wearing long sleeves, long pants, and sometimes gloves, to keep the stalks and burrs from scratching and clawing at their skin as they dragged their long sacks down the row middles as they picked. A good picker could oftentimes pick 300 pounds of cotton a day. They were paid daily, in cash, for every pound of cotton that was weighed out on the scales hanging from the back of the old one bale trailer PaPaw had. He kept a pad and an old stub of a pencil in his pocket to keep a running tally of the number of pounds each picker weighed out during the day.

After the trailer was full and "tromped" (packed down) by a kid or two from the group, or us if we were out of school, Grandpa would putt along, towing the trailer behind the tractor, on to the nearby town gin which was about a mile away. The pickers kept on picking so as to have sacks to start a new load when he returned.

About the only thing that hasn't changed much in my lifetime of living around cotton fields is the price the farmer gets for his cotton. Doesn't seem right since the price of cotton clothing sure has changed.

17 comments:

Tammy said...

Brenda...this reminds me of one of my favorite movies "Places in the Heart"...I love that movie!!
I think they need to have a National Farmers Day myself and celebrate the history of farming...from cotton to tobacco...the people that spilled their blood sweat and tears over this land to keep family fed and clothed!!!
Uh-oh...I hear the national anthem like when Mr. Douglas goes off on Green Acres...lmbo!!!
Another Great Post!!
:-D

Cal said...

Seems like farmers everywhere get a raw deal on prices. I know ours here do. By the way the daisy looks terrific now I can see it!

Joan said...

I can't imagaine how many of those little cotton balls it takes to make a piece of clothing. Sounds like such a thankless job.

jazzi said...

I finally got to see a cotton field a few years back when we drove through Arkansas. It would be pretty interesting to see the harvesting. We're all corn and beans around here.

Brenda said...

You'd think in 52 yrs I'd remember how to spell cotton BOLL! Ha.

Calculating with today's cotton price, it takes 2lbs of cotton per pair of jeans and the farmer gets 94 cents for the cotton used. In 1960 they got 64 cents for the cotton used to make a pair of jeans.

Beverly said...

I read in the newspaper when I was in the airport in Charlotte that some of the North Carolina cotton farmers had found a market for their cotton in China.

kaliblue said...

Lord my Momma talks about being in the fields with her brother & sisters pickin cotton right after school and on the weekends. My oldest Aunt was pregnant (8 1/2 months) and out there picking. She picked all the way up till a few days before birth. Then was back in the fields in less than a week helping.

Mary Lou said...

Great post Brenda...it takes two pounds to make a pair of jeans and the farmer gets 69 cents a pound and Levis sell for 35.00, SOMEBODY is sure taking a huge chunk of change aren't they?

John Strain said...

I love the color scheme on your site Brenda. I'll be up in Tupelo in two weeks so I will get to see some of that cotton for myself. Nice photo.

mreddie said...

I was born on an eighty-acre farm in Mississippi - we left the farm when I was in first grade (1947?) but I do remember the cotton. Didn't get the 'opportunity' to seriously pick any though. ec

Sally said...

Holy cow - that is awful! It amazes me who gets cheated - the ones who do ALL the work!

Your post yesterday - I was in a sandwich shop, had to ask the girl behind the counter to repeat herself several times, and she was getting irritated with ME! First time I was there - last time also. No thank you, no nothin.....
Well, that's life these days it seems. Like your new look, Ms. Brenda. :)

Brenda said...

It's worse than that Miz Mary lou, today a pound of cotton was bringing 46.9 cents a pound so the cotton to make a pair of jeans costs .94 cents. The screw is bigger!

PEA said...

How I loved reading about your memories of cotton picking times...I've never seen cotton fields, we don't have them around here. Yup the farmer sure gets the shaft every time, doesn't make sense with all the work they put in!!

JimBob said...

And here I was gonna offer ya a list! ;-)


bowl
bole
boll

David said...

Reminds me of the cotton fields down home. Have not seen them in years. Bet they are hurting this year from no rain.

Kathleen Marie said...

My husband and I farmed for over 15 years, mostly corn and soybeans and due to the prices being what they were in the Great Depression we expanded and got into Organic Farming but Grandpa didn't like seeing a few weeds in his fields and so we expanded by working to support our farming "habit". It is a completely different world today and that is very sad at times. Thanks for a great post!

Special K said...

While I was reading this, what went through my head was that scene in "Gone with the Wind" when Scarlett is in the cotton fields at Tara after fleeing Atlanta, swatting at flies, sweating in the heat of a Georgia autumn, and complaining about how her hands look like a "field hand's". Picking cotton was a helluva job not so long ago, and imagine doing it in a freaking dress!

I really liked this post, Miz Lady Bee. I've always had a fascination with the American South, and I can't tell you how cool I think it is to have Suhthun friends in the blogosphere. Mind you, I'd be right keen on you anyway, no matter where you lived.

But you bein' Suhthuhn helps. ;)