Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Cotton Gin Tour

It's cotton harvest time! We visited a local gin to learn about the harvest process. 

The cotton arrives in modules, which are made up of many bales.  One module can weigh about 20,000 pounds!  

The yellow loads are cleaned bales of cotton, packaged for shipment.  Each bale weighs about 500 pounds.  There are many bales on those trailers. 

This is raw cotton, ready for processing.  See how dirty and full of debris it is? 

A close up of the module of cotton, fresh from the fields.  Each module is recorded by a system that tracks it to its final destination.  They can track it back to the very field in which it was grown even after the cotton reaches textile plants in Asia, if needed. 

This is the mechanism that moves the modules off of the flatbeds onto the conveyer system to begin the ginning process. 

Inside this machine, there are pickers that spin and break the cotton off of the modules and allows it to be suctioned into the next place, where it will be "ginned", or have the seed removed from the cotton, which is called 'lint'. 

See the fluffy cotton on top? It's getting ginned and the seeds are being separated below.  They look yellow in the picture, though they are white. 

Here's the difference from the raw cotton (right) and the ginned cotton (left). 

See how cute the cotton seeds are? 

Control panels keep everything going as it should.  I do have to say, it was SO LOUD INSIDE THAT YOU COULDN'T EVEN HEAR YOURSELF YELL! All the workers used ear and eye protection and many also had masks to breathe through. There was lots of cotton fiber in the air!  

This is after the cotton has been further cleaned and combed.  See how silky it is?!

This baling machine collects the finished cotton and presses it into 500 pound bales. 

Samples are taken from each bale.  One goes to the government for inspection, grading and pricing, the other back to the grower for his records. The yellow bag is sealed and loaded onto trucks for shipment.  Most of the cotton we grow here in Central CA is grown for the seeds.  The seeds are sent to other states for their crops, as well as kept for replanting for our farmers.  The cotton is exported all around the world, especially to Asia, for use in textile production. 

Here are all the parents and kids who participated in this tour.  This giant pile of seed was not of good enough quality to plant, so it becomes cow feed. Other discarded seeds may be sent to be pressed for cottonseed oil. 

After the pictures, the kids were allowed to conquer Cotton Everest. 

Such a fun trip!  

If you want to learn more about cotton, may I suggest a few books?  

To contrast cotton and wool in textile production: Charlie Needs a Cloak

And for moms who might want to try their hand at spinning: 

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything and Do Not Open

These are a couple of our very favorite Halloween-y books. 

The first, The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, is appropriately spooky and gives a good lesson in remaining unruffled though you are fearful.  The woman being chased by a "live" pair of pants, shirt and pumpkin head, and has to figure out a way to defeat it. 

Brinton Turkle, of Obadiah fame, wrote and illustrated the second, Do Not Open. It shows thrift and being at peace with your life, even if hard times have come. The woman faces a very scary situation and keeps her wits about her. She saves her life and everything works out well.  There is a frightening picture in it that scared my littlest ones the first time we read it, so this one is best for around seven and over in my opinion. Pre-read as always to make sure it's a good fit for your family! 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Who Put The Pepper In The Pot?

This funny little book has long been a favorite with my Lambies.  The family is busy.busy getting ready for the arrival of their aunt. Everyone has lots of things to do, but  everyone is so helpful to mom, too!  

The text is simple, which is great for young readers, without being dull and too dumbed down.  

I don't know exactly *what* draws kids to this story, but it's been a favorite of so many of my Lambies I had to include it in this series. 

Get your own copy here

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman

First up in my series on overlooked books is The Seven Silly Eaters.  This book has it all.  The artwork is detailed and interesting, the story engaging and entertaining and the rhymes, impeccable! Mr. and Mrs. Peters certainly have their hands full, and the snowballing trouble of allowing children to be picky eaters is evident throughout.  I the realistic, large-family home depicted so well by Marla Frazee.  The solution to the family's problem? Cleverness, thoughtfulness and creativity!  Such a good book.  Can you tell how much it's loved? 

I recently picked up another copy, since this one is nearing the end of its life. I'll pull it out soon for one of the Lambies to read to the babies we watch on weekends.  A new generation will come to love the Peters Family! 
Want one of your own? Just click the link below and get one from Amazon! 

The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Overlooked Ones

I have a new series upcoming!

I'm going to highlight books that my children have LOVED, but that don't make any of the "recommended" lists, and often get overlooked or shoved aside without consideration. As much as I love Ambleside Online's booklists, many of the Sonlight selections and others, there are great books that don't make the cut.  Most are just fun books, not literature, but life would have been a little poorer if we had not shared them.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Nature Study on a Massive Scale

We've been having a fantastic spring traveling to some fabulous parks. This is nature study on a massive scale! I love this time of year. 

Hiking is my favorite sport. 

Here's most of the Crew. Sadly, our two oldest had to work.

That's me at the base. Our trees are impressive! 

Mighty Sequoias

The famous view! 

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Boy With The Bronze Axe

Recently in our geography studies, we learned of a fascinating place called Skara Brae in Orkney.  In reading about it online, I found that Kathleen Fidler had crafted a fictional tale based on what life may have been like in Skara Brae at its height.  The Boy with the Bronze Axe has been a wonderful addition to our school days.  It is a favorite with my 11-15 year olds.  

The little artwork there is in the book is lovely. The story is of Kali and her brother Brockan, their family and village, and their relationship with a newcomer who has an axe made of an unknown (to them) material called bronze.  He is a valuable addition to their life and they have many adventures.  He shares his knowledge and learns from them, too.  

I liked especially that Kali is a very involved girl who doesn't sit on the sidelines of life.  The author worked many details of the archeology of Skara Brae into the story.  It's quite interesting to read of an item being used in the story that we have seen in the videos we watched! 

It seems that this book was out of print for some time. It's available again on Amazon, so be sure to pick up a copy. May your family enjoy it as much as mine has.