From Whence They Came


[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]How much time do we spend thinking about where things come from?  The things we consume?  What about people?

Lately, when I start to complain about a person or a group of people… or Roger does…  one of us will automatically play off the other side.  “I wonder what makes them that way,” one of us will say.  And it opens our mind to looking past what may be immediately irritating to us personally and forces us to see more of the person behind the irritant.

How did they grow up? What values were taught in their household? How did life and community affect the decisions they make or their behavior?  What can we do to make the situation better?  What would God want us to do?  It is always a quick reminder that worry and complaining are never the things God wants from us.

Nic takes us on a tour of his cotton fields.

This year, our youngest son, Nic, planted his first crop — cotton.  As a kid, Nic spent as much time as possible outside.  I used to look forward to the shorter days of winter because when the days were long, I had a very hard time getting Nicholas and Ryan inside to bed at a decent time.  As long as there was enough daylight to be outside, they didn’t understand coming inside.

Given a choice, Roger and I might have chosen an easier life for Nic.  It’s easy, however, to see Nic choosing to be a farmer.  Being outside and hard work are in his blood.

Spending time in a cotton field is an entirely new experience for me.  It’s common to see cotton growing in fields along the roads we travel.  I can even remember Mama stopping to let my brother and me pick up little pieces of cotton that fell along the sides of the road as it was hauled from one to place to another.  But I never really considered the work it took to get there.

I enjoy hearing Nic talk about the business and the work of farming.  Over the weekend, Roger and I took lunch out to where they were working and I was able to watch a small part of the process.  Nic’s partner, Cody, drove the picker up and down the rows of planted cotton.  Even though he was half a field away, I could see the pretty white bowls shooting into the bin.  Nic pulled his tractor and bowl buggy beside us to talk for a bit, but kept a watchful eye on Cody’s work.  As he saw the bin filling up, he jumped to the tractor to meet Cody in the field to dump the cotton from the picker to the bowl buggy.

Roger has spent some days, recently, helping out where needed so I heard about the “module builder.”  I asked as many questions as they would allow just because I always have a desire to know how things work and because this is Nic’s heart, it’s my heart too.  But getting to see the equipment in person was exciting to me.  As Nic made his way back towards the module builder, I climbed up to stand next to Roy to see it work.

Nicholas pulls the bowl buggy (basically a tall bin on a trailer being pulled by the tractor) alongside the module builder.  He turns sideways in the seat to run the controls making me think of him as a child and never able to sit still.  The bowl buggy lifts to begin pouring cotton into the module builder.  There are spinning teeth that I presume grab the cotton and control how quickly it comes out.

Roy uses the arm of the module builder to spread the cotton.   Then begins its work in earnest.  On the arm are hydraulic “tampers” (I’m sure there is a more official name!) that press the cotton down.  He works it back and forth then gives Nic a signal to dump more cotton bowls.  It’s a process.  Pour some cotton, spread it, tamp it.  When complete, including several more hauls from the picker, there is a solid bale of cotton where once was only ground.

One thing that really captures my attention is the way the guys work together.  If you are not watching closely, it’s easy to  miss the slight signal they give each other.  It’s almost as if they are reading each other’s minds.  I’m sure it’s a matter of knowing your place and what’s expected from you at the time.  Doesn’t that always make things a simpler process?

Also striking is how quickly that picker pulls the cotton.  Looking at the large field, the image comes to mind of a time when people would have walked up and down those rows pulling cotton — a hot, dirty and difficult job.  This day, the sun does beat down and when you see the large cloud of dust surrounding the picker, you know it’s a dirty job.  And no doubt it’s still a lot of work. However, I don’t think anyone here is longing for the days of hand-picking cotton.

Something in the air catches my eye, and I realize it’s a tiny piece of cotton so light it floats on the air like a living thing.  I’m captivated by the way the sun shines right through it.  What will become of all this cotton?  Is it bound for being made into clothes for little children, socks for keeping feet warm in the winter, or maybe even baby wipes?  How interesting it would be to follow one bale all the way through the process.  Such immense understanding can come from knowing not only the finished product but also from whence it came.


Here is a fun fact from our new South Carolina Back Road Restaurant Recipes cookbook:  

What is the only creature on earth that eats cotton? 

If you said the boll weevil… you’re wrong!  As you will learn at the South Carolina Cotton Museum, the answer is humans.  According to the museum, mass-produced foods like ice cream, toothpaste, pretzels, cookies and potato chips contain cotton.

And a recipe from South Carolina Back Road Restaurant Recipes:


Melting Moments Cookies

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 3 dozen cookies
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  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup margarine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • Using a bowl, mix together flour, cornstarch and sugar; set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat margarine with an electric mixer until smooth. Slowly beat in flour mixture and vanilla until well blended. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375°. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet 1½ inches apart. Flatten slightly with lightly floured fork. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Makes 3 dozen cookies.


Melting Moments Cookie recipe comes from South Carolina Back Road Restaurant Recipes