“Daddy had us doing farm work from an early age," says Colin Collins. "I remember picking cotton by hand, and both my brother David and I did our share of hoeing cotton. Cotton was grown on the farm for over 100 years, except for one year when they weren’t able to get it planted. Daddy thought it was just awful that we missed a year growing cotton."
During my years with Delta Farm Press, among the best-read articles we do are farmer profiles — farmers like to read about other farmers — and in addition to the nuts and bolts of farm operations, we writers always enjoy learning the “human interest” aspects of those we interview.
Colin and David Collins, whose story is featured here, are like a great many farmers nowadays: part of a multi-generational family that traces its agricultural lineage to the 1830s.
In their grandfather Clay Collins’ day, says David, “There were 11 sharecropper families on the farm, growing cotton, corn for the hogs and other animals, and beginning in the late 1950s, some soybeans."
Their late father, William, an attorney, served eight years in the Mississippi House of Representatives, and was then appointed postmaster at New Albany, the county seat — “which meant we had to live in town and go to school there. But we still came out here to work on the farm.”
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Says Colin, “Daddy had us doing farm work from an early age. I remember picking cotton by hand, and both David and I did our share of hoeing cotton. It was hard work, but we also had a lot of good times with the farm workers.
“Cotton was grown on the farm for over 100 years, except for one year when they weren’t able to get it planted. Daddy thought it was just awful that we missed a year growing cotton.
“We stayed with it through boll weevils, bollworms, and other problems, into the first couple of years after Bt technology became available. But we were never able to get the yields we felt we needed, so we quit. Our land is just more suited to soybeans and corn.”
In 2009, a fire that was thought have started from an overheated air compressor, completely destroyed their shop.
“We were in the field planting and could see the smoke,” Colin says, “but by the time fire departments got there it was too late. We lost all our tools, manuals, a bob truck, two pickups, a cotton picker, and everything except the equipment we were using in the field that day.”
“It took us a few years to recover from the fire,” David says, “but four years ago we built a new shop, an all-metal 60x120 building, with 30-foot side sheds on each side.
“We're surrounded by good people here. Farmer friends and neighbors helped us during that period, and we’ll never forget it. Whenever there is an opportunity for us to return the kindness we’ve been shown, we do.”