A question popular on “Fazebook” got me thinking about earning money growing up. A couple of weeks ago I started seeing the question “Have you ever picked cotton?” often.
Yes, I have – one time when I was about 12 years old. A friend’s family had a big farm and grew cotton. One weekend while visiting we decided to earn some money by helping pick cotton. We got our long bags and went out into the hot field early in the morning.
I admit we played as much as we picked. And we quit at noon, going in for lunch and deciding that was not a fun way to earn money. I don’t remember how much was paid for picking cotton, I think it was about 25 cents per hundred pounds. If I remember right, I earned a whole dime that half day I “worked.”
A money earning “job” I had that I really enjoyed for years would probably make bird watchers and animal rights fanatics go crazy now. It was protecting our pecan trees.
We had five big pecan trees and not only sold the nuts for a little extra farm income; we shelled and ate fresh nuts every way from raw to parched to pies and on cakes. And we froze many pounds for use until the next crop.
Blue jays and crows liked pecans as much as we did and could eat enough each day to hurt our harvest. From the time I got my first BB gun at six years old until I went off to college, daddy paid me a dime for every blue jay and a quarter for every crow I could kill.
Blue jays were fairly easy to kill and on a good Saturday I often earned a dollar. Crows were not easy. I would get up at dawn and sit in a bush near one of the pecan trees with my .410, only to miss the crow as it flew off. They always saw me raise my gun no matter how careful and slowly I tried to sight in on them sitting on a limb. I can remember killing only three in all the years I tried!
I could get my bounty year-round, and my standard fee for blowing up a nest with eggs was 50 cents since five eggs were average. After killing the adult near the nest, there was no way to count the eggs after shooting up the nest. If there were baby birds in it, I could usually find and count them. I realized later in life daddy trusted me completely to tell him the truth about how many I killed, a small thing but I am sure it helped me realized the importance of being honest.
While leaves were on the trees blue jays were harder to see and shoot, but I got pretty good at it. With bare limbs, it was easy to spot the patch of blue but much harder to get close enough for a shot. They could see me as well as I could see them.
I wonder if kids have fun ways to earn money now?