Everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25

Friday, November 14, 2014

Oh Lawdy, Pick a Bale of Cotton

I’m not sure who here at Arrow Academy enjoys field trips more, the students or the teacher.  The kids love it when we take school on the road for obvious reasons:  relaxed atmosphere, no boring worksheets, freedom to wiggle, getting out of the house...

But believe it or not, I love field trips for much the same reasons:  relaxed atmosphere, no paperwork,  kinesthetic learning, and getting out of the house.

So when my sister-in-law called me a couple of weeks ago inviting us to visit a local cotton plantation with her, you know I jumped at the chance.

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Funny how you can live in the same place all your life and not be aware of the opportunities that surround you.  For thirty-plus years I’ve lived not 70 miles from the jewel that is Frogmore Plantation and have never even heard of the place until the other day.  Honestly, I didn’t have very high expectations regarding this historic site, but luckily I was in for a treat! 

The owners of Frogmore have done a wonderful job preserving the integrity of the grounds.  During our tour which lasted over an hour, we visited a smoke house, mercantile, slave cabin, washroom, “kitchen”, cotton field, a share cropper cabin, the overseer’s dogtrot, barn, and the historical cotton gin.  The kids heard about things like spinning cotton yarn, tatting, pig slaughtering, making apple butter, white washing, pressing sugar cane, the “Northern Aggression,” and of course picking and ginning cotton.

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Our tour guide did a marvelous job leading us around the grounds.  She was very knowledgeable about the history of the plantation.  I only wish I could paid a little closer attention to her.  Instead, I spent most of my time chasing Tacy Mae in and out, in and out, in and out of these 150 year old cabins.  Yes, even Tacy was enjoying our day out of the house.

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After touring the buildings we got to go into the field and pick some cotton.

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Bless her little cotton-pickin’ heart!  Even though Lucy looked so forlorn she really was enjoying herself.

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You know the monkeys couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit the outhouse.  Thankfully it was a two-seater!

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Ah, the cotton sack.  So thankful I never had to pull one of these babies on my back!  When I see these I am tempted to think, “1800’s,” but it really wasn’t all that long ago that these cotton sacks were still being used.  In fact, my dad tells a story of his grandmother dragging him through the fields on her sack when he was a baby, only to abandon him and the sack when she ran up on a snake in the field.  Yikes!

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This is definitely the prissiest cotton picker I’ve ever seen.

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Before heading out to the barn, Ty tried his hand at pressing sugar cane.

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I found the tour of the old cotton gin to be very educational.  How did I grow up in the lower Mississippi Delta and not know how one of these things works??  I was surprised when I saw the replica of Eli Whitney’s first gin.  I had no idea I could carry the thing under my arm.  I’d always pictured it as some huge machine.  Even Tacy Mae found it to be quite interesting.

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Pop quiz time:

Q:  Where does the term “cotton gin” come from?

(Insert Jeopardy music here.)

A:  It’s short for “cotton engine.”  Who knew?!

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After leaving the plantation we drove through the modern cotton gin at Frogmore.  Luckily, we visited Frogmore during picking season, so we got to see the gin in action.  The monkeys loved watching the cotton bales coming off the line.  White gold hot off the presses!

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What a fun day!  Here’s a shot of all the cousins at the dogtrot.  The kids enjoyed their day at Frogmore, but just getting to see each other is what they loved best.  These kids always have the best time when they are together.

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