Friday, October 26, 2012

whistling dixie . . .

O, I wish I was in the land of cotton
Old times there are not forgotten
Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land.

It's *definitely* cotton picking time in Madison County, Alabama.  Cotton makes up a very large percentage of the crops in our county, along with corn (which fared terribly this year), soy beans (which will also soon be ready for picking, but aren't as crucial as the cotton), and winter wheat.
Isn't it pretty?  Acres and acres of cotton . . . or an Alabama snowfall, as I like to refer to it!  
And pretty deep, huh?!

The farmers have been hopping this week, trying to get it all harvested before the next rain system moves in.  Now that the cotton fields have been defoliated, rain will lower the quality (and consequently the value) of the cotton -- it makes it dirty and can lessen the quantity, as well.

Here's a field that the cotton pickers have already been over . . .
After the first run has been made in all of a farmer's fields, he'll typically run the cotton picker over his field a second time, to pick up what's been left. (and if he's renting the cotton picker, he may have to wait until every one else who rents the cotton picker has gotten a first pick in).

This field has been picked, picked again, and mowed down.  It's ready to be plowed under for the winter wheat or rye, they'll plant later on.

The cotton picker is a huge, HUGE piece of equipment.  Meeting one on our country roads is quite the experience.  This morning we met no less than four!

Here's a birds eye view . . .
Yes, I am sitting in a cotton picker, that's actually picking cotton. I have friends in high places!  Up ahead you can see two other cotton pickers working their rows. This is a pretty big operation.

Once the cotton picker is full (after a couple of passes, depending on how long/wide the field is), the cotton is dumped into a free-standing bin, hauled by a tractor.  
Here's a better view of it . . . 

The tractor then haul the bins to the modular trucks and dump it yet again.

Once it's been packed tight . . . 
They pulled the modular truck away and there's a module of cotton, ready to take to the gin.

Then, when it's hauled to the gin -- and we have three working gins in Madison County -- it sits and waits its turn for processing. 
You'll notice the markings on the side?  It's how they keep track of who's modules are who's!
These modules all belong to "TF" or Tate Farms.  The covers help protect the harvested cotton from any weather that comes along before it gets into the gin.

It's really a fascinating process and of particular interest to me because (1) one of my favorite places in the world -- Tate Farms -- depends on it so very much for their livelihood and (2) because I love my cotton fabric and as the cotton crop goes, so goeth the cotton fabric prices!!  Just thought I'd share a bit of my world -- a bit that's really *our* world!

I couldn't forget about Feline Friday . . . how about, in honor of my mom's continuing recovery, on last shot of Baby Jane Doe . . .
Being spoiled by her mama -- eating spaghetti off the tray!  Gracious!  
You know what she's saying, right?  It's written all over her face!  Be sure to check out the Feline Friday linkups over at Sarah Did It!

And to close us out, another of my favorites . . . 
Homemade ginger snap cookies.  I got the itch after dinner last night to do a little baking.  It's that time of year!!

Be sure to visit today's Wicked participants!!!


:)

16 noted . . .:

Missy Shay said...

My husband is a yankee and we met in AR. The first Christmas we went home to where I grew up, Lubbock, TX, he thought it had snowed, but no, I explained it was cotton that had blown everywhere!

Barbara F. said...

I saw my first real cotton this month and I am hooked. I want some for an arrangement! One blog I follow is having a giveaway!! Of course I entered. ;-) Your cookies look so good. Wish I had one. xo

Jean(ie) said...

it really looks like snow, but is so hard on the soil... Mom used to spray paint the cotton bolls and use them to decorate the fireplace (white birch logs with gold spray-painted magnolia leaves and cotton bolls.)

Sarah said...

Your story about cotton picking was fabulous - I'm quite familiar with harvesting grain type crops but I've never seen cotton. Those huge bricks are fascinating. And thanks again to Baby Jane for joining Feline Friday - she certainly loves her Momma :)

Janet O. said...

Now I want to make the ginger snaps, but I am the only one at home that eats them, and believe me, I could eat them all!!
The cotton process is fascinating! Thanks for taking us along (loved the "friends in high places"). Do you think Eli ever imagined how it would all be done one day?
Okay, this is my caption for kitty, "You again? Take that blasted camera and GO HOME!!" How's that? : )

Barbara B said...

Thanks for showing this Denise--so educational for folks!

barbara woods said...

we live in n.w. ga. and we got our garden peaches@cream corn out early and had just harvested it when we got that month of no rain so i have nearly 300 ears in the freezer

Linda in Calif. said...

They grow cotton here in Bakersfield, CA too. I love seeing the cotton in the fields. Thanks for the interesting post - I learned a few things. And that cat eating off the tray - how funny!

Lee said...

Thank you for sharing your cotton picking story ;p I know, that sounds funny, huh? Really, I enjoyed reading the process & seeing the pix too. Looking at the pic with your mama, and btw I'm happy to learn she is doing well, I notice the knife...I LOVE those knives! I'd recognize them anywhere. My first experience with one was back in the late-70s at a pizza/sub place I worked but I never knew the name so didn't know where to get them. About 10 yrs ago, a seminary student friend of ours asked if he could demo this knife line he was beginning to sell, and yeah ok, so he comes out, opens his case and reveals the knives and I said "SOLD" ... he was a bit flustered because he needed and wanted to practice his sales pitch, lol.

Mary said...

The kitty says NONE for you lady! Fun to see the big rig and you got to sit in it for the view. Making my soft gingersnaps later today. Gotta have something for the grandkids when they come, HAHAHA, DH would eat them all before that. MIL would put them in the freezer so she could have a variety for the holidays. Good idea, I think.

Michelle said...

Thanks for the cotton picking tour! :P Seriously, I find that stuff very interesting. I saw cotton fields for the first time while in Texas in September. Really cool! That's too funny about the cat...so spoiled!

Barb N said...

I'm from the Land of Potatoes and Sugar Beets and Corn (Idaho)and so I know these harvesting processes. But I found it very, very interesting to see the machinery, the crop, and then how they squish all that cotton together. Love it! My husband thought it was interesting, too. Thanks for sharing.

Bud and Marsha said...

Hi Denise. I am so glad I came over to check out your blog! I'm going to link to your blog one of these days very soon as you have friends in such High Places and your story of the cotton is perfect. Why reinvent the wheel, especially when I have friends only in low places...well tractor tires are pretty high up but not cotton pickin'machinery. LOL

Kate said...

I hope the cotton crop was good, it be really bad if it wasn't (though maybe our stash reports would be more positive!). Fun post, thanks for sharing.

Lee D said...

thank you for the tour through the cotton fields. I have never seen cotton growing and it was very interesting to see how it was harvested. The farm equipment now days is massive!

SweetPepperRose said...

Hey Denise! we have a few cotton fields down our way, and I never tire of looking at them! Peanut fields too. I Love Living in Dixie Land!