Harvesting Cotton the Good Old Fashioned Way - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/18/03

Harvesting Cotton the Good Old Fashioned Way

Three farmers, three teams of horses and one old plow. Bill Larue, Leon Pinkert and Mike Jackson are meeting in a cotton field to do something most farmers only hear about, and never attempt.  

"We're trying to strip cotton like they did 70 years ago," Leon Pinkert laughs. 

They're taking a trip back to the 1930s. Harvesting hundreds of acres of cotton with only their horses and an old John Deere Cotton Stripper. Cotton was harvested by hand until the first horse drawn stripper was built in 1931.

"We just wanted to do this for fun it's just a lifelong dream we had and we're finally getting to do it," says Larue. 

Their brand new John Deere Cotton Stripper harvests eight rows at one time, but today it sits untouched in a nearby field. These farmers say it would be faster, but it's not near as fun as doing it the old-fashioned way, one row at a time. "It's a slower way, but it's efficient and if you enjoy doing it like we do," says Jackson.

Back in those days using horses for daily work was normal. "Everything was pretty well done by horse power and all the equipment was set up for it and most of the time they stood on the ground and gave them a command and they moved without lines," says Jackson.

Success depends on a good team of horses. Beautiful belgians, Duke and Dan, were popular plowing horses because of their docile disposition. "If you get a team of these horses, they're extremely gentle and quiet. They don't have to work too hard with me. We play alot," says Jackson.

Despite horsing around, these farmers are preserving a part of history that is still sacred to West Texas, but is often forgotten. "It's a part of history and we want to keep it going so generations to come can see what's going on," says Larue. 

Larue adds that a team of horses can plow three and a half acres of cotton in eight hours. A modern day cotton stripper can do the same work in about 20 minutes.

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