The night before Katy went to Texas to stay on her uncle Matt’s farm, she had a funny dream. Her mother told her that Uncle Matt didn’t grow food on his farm. He grew cotton.
Of course Katy knew what cotton was. Her blue jeans were made of cotton and so were her T-shirt and socks. The curtains in her room were cotton so were the sheets on her bed. She knew that the bunny she took to bed with her was stuffed with cotton, because once it had split open and its stuffing had spilled out. But she never knew that cotton grew.
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That night she dreamed she was walking through a cotton forest where shirts and towels and sheets grew on trees. But the next day, when Katy and her mother came to Uncle Matt’s farm, Katy found it was nothing like her dream. Instead there were fields with yellow, white and pink flowers.
“Oh, they’re pretty!” Katy said,” May I pick some?”
“I should say not!” Uncle Matt laughed.”Those flowers will turn into cotton.”
“How can a flower turn into cotton?”
“You keep watching this summer. You’ll find out.”
During the summer Katy watched the field change. The petals fell off the flowers, and green knobs, or bolls appeared. Uncle Matt said the white cotton was growing inside the bolls.
The bolls grew as big as eggs and turned dry and brown. Then they burst open, and thick white puffs of cotton with little seeds in them sprang out. Suddenly the fields looked like fields of balls!
Snowballs in summer!
The weather was very hot. Katy wished it would rain. But Uncle Matt said, “It had better not! A little rain wouldn’t hurt, but too much rain could ruin the cotton.
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Now it was time for the cotton-picking machine to go to work. The machine looks something like a tractor with a big basket on the back. As the cotton picking machine moved through the field, the front part of the machine pulled the cotton from the bolls. The cotton was sucked up through large tubes and dropped into the big basket.
Before there were machines to pick the cotton, people used to pick by hand. On some small cotton farms they still do. The cotton picking machine can pick almost twice as much cotton in just one hour as the fastest man can pick in a whole day.
Katy wanted to know what happened to the cotton after it was picked. Her uncle told her that it was sent to a cotton gin where the seeds are taken out of the cotton fluffs. The clean cotton-called lint is packed tightly in great heavy bales and shipped to factories to be made into thread and then woven into cloth.”The seeds are important too,” Uncle Matt said.” They are sold to make margarine, salad oil, food for farm animals, and many other things.