Pick a Bale of Cotton

Posted on Jun 05, 2009. 8 comments

When I casually told my city-bred Husband the other day I'd like to grow cotton this summer he gave me THE LOOK. This is a long series of LOOKS that have happened over the years we've been together. But I am totally qualified to grow cotton as I grew up on a Farm.
When my Dad first got sick we moved to my Uncle Johnny's farm when I was just a wee child of four years old. The family farm is a hundred bucolic acres buttressing the George Washington National Forest just outside of Washington DC. There were many heads of Charlet cattle, the orphans of which I got to hand feed with a huge bucket. We had a huge garden.
Trees that had been quietly reaching their limbs toward the sky for at least a century. The neighbors had a loud and boisterous brood of chickens who provided endless entertainment for me and the farm cats. It was magical.
On the farm we also had our very own set of American Gothic neighbors. The Maucks helped me learn the tacit ways and means of country folk. First thing I learned is that the Missus and Mister had uniforms. Hers was a lovely rickrack trimmed pinafore over a flowered frock paired with sensible shoes. His was a worn looking set of overalls bought directly from the feed store and a brightly colored all purpose handkerchief tucked in the folds of his person. Both had tanned brown hands with well worn deep creases that were as strong as hands ought be.
I first learned about currency from the Missus on one simple morning when I was wandering outside in my typical uniform of grubby clothes, wild hair and no shoes, perfect for wandering in the pastures way over yonder to see the Crick. Mrs. Mauck quietly approached me and asked me to crawl in her basement window and make my way to the front door to fetch her keys since she had locked herself out. Because that's what country folk do when locked out. They ask the local 8 year old rascal to help as if breaking and entering were as normal as the sun rising in the East each morn. That basement crawling endeavor was the first time anyone outside my family ever gave me money for any reason as I was at the bottom of the list of people who needed dough. In fact, I believe it was the first time anyone gave me money at any time. The price for my trouble was a quarter. Already planning my haul at the penny candy section of the local country store I was inclined to offer my services while dreaming away about all the candy cigarettes and wax lips I'd buy with my bounty.
The other half of the older couple, Mr. Mauck taught me a different lesson about life. He had a well loved garage with year after year of retired License Plates lovingly displayed on the wall. Parked inside was a curvy, black model ford era automobile. On special occasions we'd pile in the car (with Mr. Mauck wearing his signature overalls) for a harrowing drive around the mountains at an incredible speed of 24 miles per hour. The cars would line up behind us 15 or 20 deep; impatient city bred drivers who were beeping and waving their fingers while Mr. Mauck would painstakingly tell us tales of the days of yesteryear. I'd look out the window at the green lush backdrop and wonder to myself about the waving fingers. Were they a special thank you for Mr. Mauck's careful driving? An appreciative gesture for the beauty of his automobile?
I never did figure out during my time on the farm the meaning of that simple gesture. That lesson was reserved for conversations between cityfolk where the rivers are made from concrete and no one has sampled Bambi.
One of the most shocking country lessons I learnt was that water was the real way you could tell a person was from money. The Mauck family home was the first (but not the only) home I visited that was without a privy. Each bedroom had lovely ornate, flower adorned bowls (as if the flowers fooled you into ignorance of their true nature) that were tucked under the bed but existed for the purpose which one emptied without note or complaint in the morning.
Each of these experiences are formative experiences that make me the country bumpkin in the big city today. Recently the Mauck property was purchased and populated by silly city folk who replaced the chickens with a Crèche of Guinea Keets. So what if they paid 400K for an acre of land most of which is hillside covered brush and no indoor plumbing. It's still the grounds were still where I learned how you live in the country.
My point here is those Angora Goats look perfectly close to Bearded Collies.
When I get one I'll just tell my Husband that the cotton plants are what country folk feed the "dogs" to keep their coats shiny and clean.


  • Posted by Jane on Jun 10, 2009

    The decorative pot under the bed made me chuckle. In England this was called a “Guzunder” because it ’gus’under the bed!

  • Posted by Sandra Singh on Jun 10, 2009

    Wow what a memory you have! What an experience! Good luck with that cotton.

  • Posted by anmiryam on Jun 07, 2009

    My city raised soul is laughing all the way to Kansas. I had to ask my husband to stake the three tomato plants yesterday as I had no experience…okay, in the end I admitted that I actually knew what the general idea was and that I was just suckering him into the work. Cotton though, that’s waaaay beyond the limits of my theoretical understanding of gardening.

  • Posted by Lissa on Jun 10, 2009

    Just have to say that this was a lovely bit. I can practically hear the cows and chickens and smell the fresh air.

  • Posted by Carrie K on Jun 10, 2009

    Your angora goat is darling.
    Cotton? Are you planning on spinning it?
    I’d trade my soul for running water and indoor plumbing, as it turns out.

  • Posted by Husband on Jun 05, 2009

    If you’re trying to persuade me to okay a cotton garden, then fine. Just plant them where our existing Angora Goat, uh, how shall I say it, “takes a break from his patrol”. Any more goats, and you have to get me the captive-bolt pistol I asked about for Father’s day in return.
    But don’t go dissin’ our concrete rivers; they’re the only thing that keep our lovely basin from being a 1000 milli-year floodplain. Plus, that’s where the city folk go Bambi hunting with their captive-bolt pistols (cuz guns evidently are too inhumane. Whiny commies).

  • Posted by Michelle on Jun 05, 2009

    What the crap is a captive-bolt pistol? I thought you wanted a Kindle, city boy.

  • Posted by AlisonH on Jun 06, 2009

    You two! Okay, and now I have to explain to my husband (who like me grew up just outside DC but who, unlike me, spent several summers growing up on his grandparents’ farm in the mountains of Utah) why I’m laughing!

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