Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Broom corn and cotton picking

I ran in to Stan kelly of Edmond who is just a little older than me and he was telling me he grew up on the farm and use to pick cotton and cut broom corn.  Now I know in the Osage we did not do those crops back then although I hear Lebby Williams (LEB) is now raising cotton in the Osage.  Anyway I am really glad we did not have these two crops as I have heard too many stories about having to hand pick cotton and how it would cut  your fingers.  And broom corn is just about the nastiest thing to cut because you have to do it with a strangely made knife that was curved and was tied to your index finger and then you would use your thumb and index finger to cut the broom corn with the knife.  The trick is to not stick yourself with the knife which was always easy to do.  You see I did raise broom corn and it really is nasty.

The problem is broom corn is grown for the sticks or stubble on the top of the stalk which can be higher than your head.  What this means is you are always cutting over your head or at head level and the dust is getting all over your face and neck and down your shirt.  It itches terribly.  In my opinion the only way to cut it is with a bare back, no shirt.  Most folks prefer long sleeve shirts and pants to protect them as much as possible.

Now just what do you do with this stuff? I am sure everyone knows what you do with cotton but just in case you or the manufacturers make thread which is made into cloth which makes into sheets, pillow cases, shirts, pants, underwear, etc.  But broom corn is not so well known for what it is made to do.  Well here it is, you make brooms just like the ones at your house used to sweep the floors.  Therefore broom corn.  The reason the name includes corn is that it looks like a corn stalk when it grows.

So what does this all have to do with the Osage?  NOT MUCH.  But I am glad we did not have to mess with these two crops when I was a kid.  One thing worth knowing is that Oklahoma use to be the center for broom corn for the US and it was grown down in the SW part of the state around Alex, Chickasha, Altus, Binger, and into the panhandle of Texas.  In fact if you know the Hough family (Hough Ear Institute) in Oklahoma City Mrs. Hough's family were some of the largest broom corn farmers in the country.  How about that for a little piece of information.

So what do you learn in the Osage?
  • Not much about broom corn and cotton
  • How to be a good worker and to give a good effort with hope of a good return, kind of like planting and reaping
  • Where a broom comes from
Thanks for listening,
gary@thepioneerman.com

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