Texas leads the country in many areas. Among those is the production of cotton. For years, the Lone Star state has come in first for their efforts. In my area of Central Texas, the Blackland Prairie land is even more well-suited than most. The dirt is dark and rich. This year’s crop, says longtime Taylor-area farmer Larry Safarik, is among the best he’s seen in years. “We got the rain when we needed it the most, in June and July,” explained Safarik. The soft and fuzzy result was a good outcome for the 900 acres he planted this season. Like many modern farmers, Safarik plants the seed and cultivates the crop, but at harvest time, he brings in outside help to get the harvesting work done. That’s a good thing since Safarik continues to teach middle school when he’s not in the fields. The harvesting goes on day and night, seven days a week. Rain, a good thing in early summer, can be a hindrance when its time to pick. Nobody wants to harvest a soggy yield. Once harvested, his cotton makes its way to Waterloo Gin, one of many longtime facilities in the area ready to get the 22,000 pound modules from the fields whittled down into 500 pound bales. Like its counterparts, the Waterloo Gin is a dusty place, but quite efficient. Most of the workers wear protective masks (yours truly included), but gin worker Pedro Guajardo seemed oblivious to is effects. Once ginned, our local cotton is then taken to the Taylor Compress, where it’s stored in huge warehouses until its sent on its way, much of it across the ocean. This little slice of Texas, my “land ocean,” loves its cotton crops this year.