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Posts Tagged ‘cotton’

If you blink, you’ll miss it. 

Walt and I were lucky enough to catch cotton-picking in progress at dusk one evening last week.  Three men, each in their own modern marvel of machinery, picked our entire 400-acre field in a matter of hours. 

One picked, baled, wrapped, and dropped each bale out of the back without ever slowing down.  It would have taken over 300 laborers to hand-pick what this alien-looking machine did in one day.

The picker utilizes GPS technology, so that the operator never has to slow down to align with the rows.

Without missing a beat, he drops each completed bale out of the back of the machine…

 …and a tractor outfitted with a forklift rushes in to move each bale as soon as it is dropped.  The entire process of unloading and moving the bale took less than 30 seconds.

This bale is lined up with the others, precisely in a row, and the driver moves on to wait for the next.  Meanwhile, another tractor methodically cuts the now empty stalks to the ground.

Bales in the Moonlight

The bales have already been transported to the cotton gin for processing.  Long gone are the days when giant trailers holding loose cotton in which to jump and play would have provided days of entertainment for a little curly-haired country girl…but that wonderful freshly-picked cotton smell evokes memories that will never fade.

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The late summer heat has soon worked its magic on the cotton bolls, and what was lush green just 3 short weeks ago is now speckled with color.

Some of the bolls have begun to open now…

…and a few others are already “cotton angels”……as the journey from plant to product continues.  It’s hard to imagine that in just a few more days, the entire field will be sparkling white, as the relief of fall gently lands in The South.  I can’t wait!!!

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After a couple of excrutiatingly hot Southern days, sprinkled with a few summer storms, everything looks particularly green on the farm.  I noticed the cotton field behind the house sparkling with blooms, and grabbed the camera for the first time in a while. 

Many folks only see cotton once it’s cotton; but for a couple of days each August, you can walk through the field and see every phase of the process before it’s cotton, simultaneously…each step every bit as lovely as the full cotton bolls will be come October.

First, there is the bud of the blossom…

which will bloom into an etherial white flower.

The petals will soon become tinged with pink…

before turning almost purple…

…and then shriveling away…

…to reaveal the cotton boll.

On this particular day, the non-cultivated part of the farm also proved to be quite photogenic.  Passion flowers abound, and will soon produce sweet fruit.  The old-timers refer to this as wild cotton, and although they consider it a pesky weed, I’m fascinated by the fact that it grows wild around the cotton fields of Tennessee.

Polk Salad (pronounced “poke sallet”), a potentially poisonous Southern delicacy made famous by Elvis, grows here

entwined with a lovely wild variety of trumpet vine.  If you need a little dose of soul today, I highly recommend you watch this video and learn the story of Polk Salad Annie from The King himself.

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