Traveling through the Mississippi Delta will give you a new appreciation for farmers. Now I’ve been through the Delta many times during my life, but somehow as we grow older, we pay more attention to things. Things like the vastness of the fields and the work involved in farming.
I’m a country girl and grew up on a farm. We had cotton fields, gardens, corn fields, and soybean fields. And we worked in them as children. We didn’t always like it, but we helped plant a garden in the spring, chopped cotton in the summer and picked cotton in the fall.
I would have thought that we would have seen more cotton fields on this trip. Of course, it could have been the area we were traveling through. Cotton used to be the primary crop, but nowadays you see corn, rice, cotton, and soybeans. I’m sure there are others, but these crops were prevalent on this trip.
Note: I had to make several trips through the Delta over several weeks, and I did indeed see more cotton fields. So many cotton fields in fact, that I plan to do a post just on cotton. so stay tuned for that))
Working in the cotton field was something that most of us in the South grew up with. Here’s an image of my two sisters hoeing cotton. I’m not sure where I was at the time, probably 20 ft back since I couldn’t keep up with them, or either gone to the house for a jug of water. No matter how small you were, if you could walk and talk, there was something you could do on a farm.
My job many times was toting water to those that were working. It would be a gallon glass jug filled with ice water, held in two or three brown paper grocery bags to keep it as cool as long as possible. And yes, we all drank straight out of the jug, one person right after the other. We lived))) The jug would be placed at the end of the rows under a shade tree for later. Ice didn’t last long! And after the jug had been passed around a few times, the lid would get gritty! Now, I know that’s not really useful information, but it’s just what came to mind)))
I’m not familiar with rice fields so it’s always interesting to see them up close.
You could see fields like the one above, and then right next to it would be a rice field that looked ready for harvesting. I’m not sure if they use a leaf exfoliate on rice fields like they do on cotton or not.
We didn’t get a chance to see the machinery used to harvest rice fields but maybe on the next trip))
Rice is harvested in the Mississippi Delta from late summer to early fall. Specialized combine harvesters are used to cut and collect the rice grains after fields are drained. The harvested rice is dried, stored, and then processed. You see large round storage tanks in some of the fields. There is a huge Riceland Foods facility in Stuttgart, AR. Stuttgart is known as the duck hunting and rice capital of the world….who knew? See, traveling late in life still offers learning opportunities))
The train runs parallel to the highway. You can see the boxcars in the image above. The highway was just two-lane and it felt weird to be running right along beside it!
I made this image while driving down the highway! It turned out way better than I was expecting. Don’t worry, there was no traffic. I was only in danger of dropping my phone! But I did kind of feel like Superman)))
Soybeans are used for a host of things (tofu, soy sauce, soymilk, oils, and primarily food for animals). When my dad would plant soybeans when I was a child, I really never knew what they were used for. All I knew was that it was a bean crop that you didn’t eat. And the good news was that it meant we didn’t have to go to the field to chop it or pick it!
The image above shows the soybeans in the green stage, and then again dry and ready to harvest. Special machines called combines are used to harvest soybeans. These machines cut the plants and collect the soybean pods. The beans are stored in a tank on the combine and later put in trucks or storage. After that, the beans are cleaned, dried, and sent to be sold or processed.
In our area, and in the Delta too probably, soybean fields are just called “bean fields.” When driving in the Delta in the last summer or fall, you will no doubt get behind a big truck hauling soybeans. Bean trucks as they say))
It’s not uncommon to see crop dusters either as you drive through the Delta. The name, crop duster, comes from many years ago when the produced released were powders. Nowadays, it’s all liquid products. It’s amazing how low these planes fly, sometimes you can see pieces of plants in the wheels. The crop dusters spray pesticides, fertilizer, defoliants, and fungicides.
Yep, this crop duster flew right over us. It’s not the first time we were in the path of one)))
There are tons of cornfields in the Mississippi Delta. I saw some corn being harvested. We need to appreciate farmers!
A special machine called a corn harvester cuts off the stalks and the ears of corn go through the machine and come out as shelled corn. The long tube-like thing then feeds the shelled corn into trucks that hold anywhere from 300-350 bushels of corn. Not quite like the cornfield we had at home)))
I’m not sure what that thing is in the upper right corner of the image! It could have been a duck since we were traveling through duck country))
Well, I really didn’t mean for this post to go on so long, but I wanted to share a few buildings that I saw.
Once upon a time, this was a country store much like the ones from my childhood. Gas pumps would be in the front and gas prices were 25 to 35 cents per gallon. Now the stores in my community didn’t have beer signs and still don’t, most of the surrounding counties are still dry. There would be Grapette, Coca-Cola, gasoline, bread signs, and things like that.
This looks like a typical “shotgun” house that you used to see in the Delta all the time many years ago. It looked like this one had been moved to a pasture and the owner had several metal sculptures and old farm equipment on display.
I can remember my grandmother telling me about the times she went to the Delta to pick cotton and took my dad who was a little boy at the time. They stayed in shacks like these for several days to weeks at a time and slept on cotton-picking sacks for bedding.
We also had a dairy barn when I was young, but I was too small to do any significant work. My most vivid memories of the dairy barn include riding on my daddy’s back to the house after the barn work was finished. And, reaching way over in the milk cooler to retrieve watermelons.
The milk cooler was as big as about two chest-type freezers. It held milk cans full of fresh milk. The lid was thick and heavy, so one kid would hold the lid propped up while the other (me usually) got on the edge of the cooler, balancing on my stomach and reaching deep into the freezing cold water to get a watermelon. And we survived)))
My parents raised corn for food. We ate fresh corn, and canned or froze the rest. The corn patches were not large enough for the corn to be harvested for animals. When soybeans were planted….there wasn’t any work that a child could do in the fields….so yayyy! The crops and farms that I grew up with in no way compare to the fields in the Mississippi Delta.
Wrapping it Up!
Well, I’ve rambled quite a bit on this post)) I was looking back over the images I had taken last year while traveling through the Mississippi Delta to see my sister who was ill passed away last fall.
It’s likely to be a while before I’ll be traveling through the Delta again. And I’m not sure my hubby will want to go back with me. I think I got on his nerves shouting “Stop! I want to get a pic of that!” You can probably tell by some of the pics that they were shot right out of the window as we were whizzing by lol.
When I was driving alone, I would pull over and take my time getting some shots. It actually was quite relaxing to make the drive alone, even though it was a sad reason for the trips.
Thanks for dropping by and if you make it all the way through this post …..a super big thank you)))