Friday, October 1, 2010

The Gin

Monday Brad had a day off because of rain, and we stopped by our gin for a visit – it was on our way, after all! The one time I told myself I didn’t need my camera, and I really needed it! So here are some pictures of our gin ginning some cotton – taken with my pocket camera.

I’m not good with gin terminology, so excuse the wording!

The cotton is built into modules in the field using a huge press that packs the cotton down in to a rectangular box called, you guessed it, a module builder. (However, if you have a new cotton picker that makes its own bales and puts them out into the field like a hay baler, those are either small rectangles or round, depending on the picker manufacturer.) The gin uses a truck (red here) with a roller bottom trailer to load the modules and transport them to the gin where they are then loaded onto a belt. The modules have rain-proof tops on them that are removed and reused.

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Modules below are making their way into the ginning process. The machinery “claws” the cotton off the module bit by bit and sends it up through the three stages of cleaning (a pre-cleaning to get the big trash, another cleaning to get more trash, and a fine cleaning after the seeds are removed). This gin can gin two modules per hour. Brad said it takes him about 2 hours to make one module in the field. With all the farms they serve, the gin runs 24/7 during cotton harvest to keep up. They are at times weeks behind and catch up during rain. (Are you bored yet? I’m like a kid in a candy store with this stuff. I love it.)

ginning 092710 (3) ginning 092710 (4) Dirty cotton packed into a module.

ginning 092710 (5)Farmers label the modules with paint.

After going through two cleanings, the seed is separated from the cotton fibers in this machine below. There were three of these in this gin. The cotton where you see the most falling has seeds. The machine separates the seeds, and they fall below where the yellowish light is. Cows love cotton seed! You can see the seedless cotton in the small space just below the center bar.

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After the final cleaning, the cotton falls into a mini-module builder. On the left you can see the cotton in the brown part. On the right, the press is lowered, pressing the cotton down into a bale. In the bottom pictures, the process repeats. The press never pauses. When the bale is ready, something kicks it out to the left to be banded.  

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The cotton bale here was just kicked out of the bale-builder. It almost looks like it’s in sheets.

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Then it gets wrapped with bands to hold it together.

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One bale of cotton. It weighs about 500 pounds, depending on when it is harvested. Brad said that early cotton weighs more. According to him, a good measure is to average 2 bales per acre. That’s pretty good cotton, but there are folks who get more – like 3 or 4 bales to an acre. That’s super cotton – the kind they make in the big cotton states further west.

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They cut off a sample for testing.

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Then the bale makes its way onto the belt.

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Where it is bagged for storage, travel, or whatever.

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He’s marking the bales, but I didn’t ask what it meant. Oops.

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So that was fun! I learned a whole lot. And we were so thankful to the guy that took the time to take us around and show us what was happening – with no advance notice at all!


AA said...

Muy interesante! Amazes me how clean it comes out and how it gets rid of all the seeds!

Joe said...

Interesting post and it sounds like you had a good time. Thanks.

mountain mama said...

wow..that's a lot of work for a pair of undies! :)

every time we drive by a cotton field we always guess how many pairs of underwear can be made out of all the cotton :)

Steph said...

Hey! Thanks for visiting my blog! I like to hear from other farm wives, especially cotton! I think I've done a "tutorial" for about everything on the farm, except the gin, I can never seem to make it down there! Hopefully I will get to this year though! Where are yall located at?

CHERI said...

Well I've always wanted to know how that's done and now I do!!! Saw your mama & daddy, Susan & Bill yesterday at the reunion.