Harvesting cotton in a hurry: farming families come together in times of need

The daughter of a Medina County farmer recently shared a great story with the community, and we wanted to share it with you. It all started last week when newscasters forecasted a cold front with heavy rains, which is the last thing cotton farmers wanted to hear as they get ready to harvest. We’ve had many untimely rains this season, and this last rain just added insult to injury. We often think of farmers praying for rain, but untimely rains like we’ve had here lately has left some local cotton farmers praying for a dry spell.
David Kohlleppel was one of those farmers hoping to get his cotton harvested before the rains poured, and several local farmers came together in a beautiful way to help make that happen.
“I am not completely sure of what another rain would have done to our crop,” said Medina County farmer David Kohlleppel, “but I do know it would have needed another six weeks to dry and that’s without any more rain. The longer it is in the field, the more brittle the stalk holding the cotton becomes, with the end result being a total loss of the crop,” Kohlleppel adds.
David’s cousin, RJ Kohlleppel, is one of the many local farmers who came to help get the crop harvested ahead of the rains.
“We were short for time,” RJ said. “I pitched in when I could along with the other farmers to get what we could out of his field. It was a great feeling to get what we could out of there. I just wish it was dry enough to have gotten it all.”
Abby Kohlleppel, who originally shared the story, stated, “Just when you’re about to lose hope, people are put into your life for reasons that we will never begin to understand.”
Abby is proud to be a farmer’s daughter, and enjoys helping out on the family farm.
“Farming is a hard life because a lot of what you do isn’t in your hands, but it is so rewarding knowing that what my dad is doing is helping the world go round. He’s feeding and clothing us,” Abby said.
“My dad grows corn, cotton, grain sorghum, and wheat. Cotton clothes the world; it makes other things as well like towels, coffee filters and money! Corn and sorghum feeds animals which eventually feed us. Dad also grows corn for a chef in San Antonio, so it’s feeding us there too…and wheat goes into breads, flours and much more. Farmers and farming are essential to living from day to day,” she adds.
“A huge thank you to the following farmers who gave up not only their time, but brought their machines to help my dad harvest his biggest field of cotton that has been rained on since September 3rd. The past three months have not been easy as a farmer’s daughter, but I still believe my dad has the most rewarding job, even when he can’t see it at times….. Thank you RJ Kohlleppel, Carl Santleben, Alan Zinsmeyer, Ernie Shermer, Jerry Verstrauten, Doug Verstuyft, and Troy Bippert, for helping my dad get his cotton harvested before the front came in.”
David Kohlleppel is one of the many Medina County farmers who grew up in the business, proudly following in the footsteps of his father Ted Kohlleppel.
“I started a day or two before the help could get there, but once the help arrived, it took about 6 hours to get what we could out,” David Kohlleppel said. “We couldn’t get it all because some spots were too saturated for the cotton pickers to drive on. Had they not lent their time, it would have been another long day of work for me which we didn’t have because of the damp weather and predicted heavy rains.”
“I have been farming for over 28 years. I grew up helping my dad, Ted, with his farm and then after high school I began to farm with him. My dad has farmed for basically his entire life,” David said.
It’s beautiful to see this family farmland, which has been planted and harvested for some 50+ years right here in Medina County since the 1960’s. There’s just nothing prettier than a sunset over a cotton field, and it sure is sad to see so much beautiful farmland up for sale in our area.
“The commodity prices are down, while input costs are up,” David said. “And Mother Nature has a mind of her own with longer periods of drought to rainy seasons…. It’s not an 8 to 5 job and you have to put in a lot of effort, and people nowadays don’t want to do that when there’s something easier to do. It’s almost like you have to be raised on a farm in the beginning. A lot of people don’t have the opportunity to live a farming lifestyle which leads to fewer and fewer farmers.”
Some people value money more than anything in the world, but living in a community like ours where friends and family come together in amazing ways every day….now that’s “high cotton” if you ask us!

A poem by Abby Kohlleppel:
We never know why things happen, but I do know there is always a bigger plan we can’t see.
To the farmer that was plowing with a hopeful heart in the spring,
To the farmer dripping sweat in the summer heat trying to keep his crop alive,
To the farmer praying for rain or dry spell,
To the farmer lying awake at night wondering what the weather is going to do,
To the farmer missing family dinner or their child’s game to get the last 10 acres worked,
To the farmer harvesting the field he spent so much time preparing to be the best it can be,
And to the farmer who feeds and clothes us,
Thank you for what you do.