Wednesday, August 17, 2011
The wheel is turning towards fall though you'd never know it based on the temperature. As usual, we down here rely on other indicators that fall is nigh...the shortening days and crop harvest.
Being the born and bred city folk that we are, living out here in an agricultural community has been very interesting and educational. I'm sure the kid that hays the 13 acre field behind us thought we were crazy the first time we saw him do it, standing out there gawking while he mowed, raked and baled. Great entertainment for us and our lesson for the day.
This past weekend it was the cotton in the fields.
I think the farmer that works these fields at the end of our street must have a day job. I only ever see him out there evenings and weekends. Mostly weekends. He started harvesting the cotton Saturday evening working late into the night long after full dark.
field full of cotton (the plants are sprayed with a defoliant a week or two before harvest)
these small harvesters scoop up the cotton leaving what's left of the plant behind
when the harvester is full it disgorges it's contents into a container where it is compressed
and then ejected somehow leaving a giant bale of cotton ready to be loaded up on a truck and carted off
After all the cotton is scooped up, another device goes over the fields cutting the stalks of the plants a couple of inches above ground level. I don't know what they do with those but they weren't left on the ground.
At some point what's left will be plowed under.
And that's your lesson for the day.
One of the first years after we bought the country house but before we were living out here full time, the grandkids were with us for the weekend. It was August, the cotton had popped and driving by on our way over to my sister's house to see her and the chickens somehow we were having a conversation about slavery. Oh oh! They had learned about that in school (they were still in elementary school then).
Later in the day, I took them over to the edge of the cotton field in the middle of the hot hot sun day. Standing there on the edge of the field that went on as far as they could see, full of cotton I told them this:
That had they been a slave in this country they would never have enough to eat and would always be hungry.
That the food they did get would be the cheapest and least quality available.
That they would be barefoot and dressed in rags, clothing no one else wanted.
That they would live in a hut with a dirt floor.
That they would own nothing, not even their children.
That they would have to get up at dawn and work in the fields til dark every day of their lives.
That they would have to carry a gunney sack and pick every bit of this cotton by hand in the hot sun hour after hour and day after day and if they did not work fast enough or long enough they would get a beating.
That they might get the beating anyway.
Standing there on the edge of that field in the hot hot sun in the middle of August looking at all that cotton, I could see in their faces that right then, they got it. You could see the enormity in their eyes.
And that was their lesson for the day.