Sunday’s rain a blessing
By Clif Knight
The heavy rain that fell in Hartselle Sunday morning was the worst we’ve seen this summer. It fell with such intensity early on that visibility reached near zero while church-going motorists were left stranded on Main Street for approximately 30 minutes waiting for a slow-moving freight train to clear the four downtown crossings.
The rainmaker was welcomed by those who found it necessary to bundle up in a raincoat and carry an umbrella to church as well as gardeners and farmers who were waiting for a soil soaker to get seed out of the ground. The rain came at a good time to get my fall greens off to a good start. I planted turnip greens, radishes and curly mustard on Thursday before the rain. Otherwise, I planned on watering the greens on Monday and adding to the cost of our October utility bill.
Any time I make a reference to the months of September and October I am reminded of the hot, sweaty, back-breaking work I had to do picking cotton alongside my parents and siblings when I grew up on a family farm in Clay County. After writing a column and mentioning my experience as a cotton picker, one or more readers will stop me and relate their experiences working in the cotton field. It’s refreshing to know that there are those who share a writer’s experience and let him know about it.
Our farm’s allotment was 10 acres, according to provisions of the U. S. Department of Agriculture. We were allowed to plant and grow that much, no more. There was no limit on production. We averaged harvesting 10 bales. In the 1950s, the farm’s allotment was sold to a large cotton grower in Limestone County. Higher average yield made that purchase profitable.
We started picking cotton in early September and finished the harvest in late October.
On a good day, our family could pick 1,200 pounds, or enough to make a 500-lb. bale of lint cotton. After our harvest was completed, the two oldest boys were hired out as pickers and were paid $2 per hundred pounds.
The average bale of cotton sold for around $200. A portion of the total went to pay off a seed and fertilizer loan and another portion was used to purchase children’s winter clothing.