Saturday, November 15, 2014

Cotton season goes out with a bang...

In my last post, I did say the next time I wrote it would be about our "new" cotton picker, "Big Bertha." Well, I'm writing about her alright. Just not exactly what I had in mind. was our last day of cotton picking. We probably had 10 acres left. I'm in the field tarping a cotton module and one of our farm hands looks across the field and says "Oh My God." Not what you want to hear. I come around the module and this is what I see...
Um, WHAT???
So, after just running around like a crazy person not knowing what to do, I'm about 5 seconds from jumping in an F250, a service truck, a bush hog tractor, whatever I can find to drive over there. (This was probably 100 yards away.) Lance calls and says he's alright, but he has to get off the phone to call 911.

While he's on the phone, we're still across the field watching, (cotton is very, very flammable, so there was nothing we could do to stop it anyways) and we start hearing explosions. The tires are exploding, fuel tank exploding, hydraulic oil tank exploding...Needless to say, Lance got called back and I hopped the next cotton picker ride over there (a non-burning cotton picker).  
 By the time I got over there, the fire department had arrived. They wet down the cotton field to keep it from catching on fire and put out the woods that were on fire. A firefighter was injured by exploding hydraulic oil while he was in the woods digging a fire break.
 All that was left to do was watch her burn. And ask Lance what happened...
 He was at the end of the cotton rows, turning around, about to start on some more rows, when he happened to look back over his shoulder and see flames. He never looks back because he has cameras and mirrors to use. Thank God he did. The flames were already up between the picker basket and the cab. He immediately stopped, turned off the fans (the fans work like a vacuum, blowing cotton from the picker heads and into the basket), and hit the emergency unload button.  
 The basket started raising to dump the cotton, but only ran for a few seconds and all the power shut off. (That is why the basket in the back is tilted at a weird angle. It raised a little and when the tires blew, the weight of the cotton in the basket made it tilt.) He tried to turn the machine back on, but nothing. He opened the cab door and immediately felt heat. He threw his bag of stuff out (he still lost some stuff), and stepped out of the cab. He said the flames under the platform he was on reminded him of looking down in a bbq grill. To get off the platform, he had to shut the door. When he shut the door, it singed hair off his right arm. He had to jump off the front of the heads (which were raised about 10 foot in the air) because the fire was all around the ladder. He bashed his leg on one of the snoots (gray things on the front), landed on his right side, and just rolled through the cotton. His only injures were singed hair, cuts, bruises, and 4 out of place ribs.
 The fire smoldered for days. Mostly cotton and tires. I went back a couple of days ago and took these pictures.
 Whats left of the cab...
 This had 4 bales of cotton in it (=2,000 lbs of cotton).
This used to be the motor.
 The blown out cab glass...
Aluminum melted out of one of the radiators...
The fire around the picker going towards the woods where the firefighter was injured...
In other words...we're very glad cotton pickin' season is over! Next year Lance will be wearing full fire fighter gear while


  1. Oh my goodness, I had cold chills while reading. So thankful Lance is okay and sorry for your loss.

  2. Let me join you in praising God for His goodness and safety for Lance. How thoughtful that he called you before 911 knowing you would see and your heart would flip! That is amazing! So glad that he excaped with non-life threatening injuries and the fireman as well. I can't imagine that this is an everyday occurence and you will be telling us eventually what caused this. How frightening. Hugs to all of you! Cotton pickin machine!!!

    1. We have no idea what caused it. Cotton is so easy to catch on fire it could have been anything from a spark from a rock to electrical.