It was an overcast day Wednesday when headed out to Burton,Texas. Our basic plan, after a cotton gin tour there, was to take a road north of Burton where reportedly there are fields of wildflowers. We then would end our day at the Blue Bell creamery back in the Brenham, where our home is now parked. The cotton gin which we toured operated from the years 1914-1974. Our guide was quite thorough in explaining the whole process and showing us all the equipment involved in ginning cotton. We first saw the 1925 "Lady B" internal combustion engine which powers the drive shaft of the gin. It is the only engine of its vintage still operating in America. In a couple of weeks it will be fired up for the Annual Burton Cotton Gin Festival. On our tour we also saw the 1883 air system which vacuums the seed cotton from the farmer's wagon and brings it up into the cotton gin. By the way, the yardman who did that job was the lowest paid worker at the gin- he was called a "sucker". On the second floor of the building are 5 Lummus 5/80 gins which separate the cotton seed from the lint. The lint is then packed into are large box from which it is later removed after it was further compressed and metal straps tied around it. The whole process for one bale took about 12 minutes. Most of the bales averaged a weight of 500 pounds. At 20 cents a pound in 1920, a bale could bring in about $100.00 for the cotton farmer. Nothing was wasted in the process- the husk of the cotton boll could be mulched up, some of the seed was used for next year's planting and also set aside as a supplement for cattle feed. Our guide gave us a handful of the cotton lint as well as some seed. He encouraged me to plant the seed and gave specific instructions how to care for the plant. After hearing how involved that process is, I doubt that I will be growing cotton anytime soon! Cotton is a cousin of hibiscus and okra.
Fortunately the rain held off until we arrived at the Blue Bell plant in Brenham.