87-year-old cotton farmer returns home for harvest

87-year-old cotton farmer returns home for harvest
Kathleen Clay, 87, returns to Jonesboro to harvest cotton. (Chase Davis)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -Eighty-seven-year old Kathleen Clay has been a farmer her whole life, and on Saturday, her family gave her a special treat.

Clay was given a chance to ride on a modern six-row, self-baling cotton picker.

“When I told her, you know, let’s come back to Arkansas and see the kinfolk, she goes ‘Well, okay," Joy Clay Corby, Kathleen’s daughter, said. "And I said well they’re picking cotton and she said, ‘Oh we gotta go!', so you know, she’s definitely a cotton picker.”

Clay had to use a pallet on a forklift to get on the picker, but she used to climb up in a single row picker after work.

“You know she worked at GE, and would come out and take her turn on the cotton picker in the afternoon,” Kevin Hoke, Kathleen’s nephew, said. "A lot of times it would be so cold and it would take so long to pick the cotton, and so they would have her get on one end and she’d drive it to the other end and they’d swap out. Someone else would get on and then they’d go warm up in the trucks. "

Kathleen passed her love of farming and wisdom on to the next generation.

“She’s been on a cotton farm for a lot of years," Hoke said. "And you know, coming out and helping me farm, and now she’s here with my son out here getting to do this so it’s a special time for us.”

Kathleen had a stroke a few years ago and has trouble speaking clearly. She now lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her daughters. But she still comes back to Jonesboro for harvest time.

“She loves doing this, especially with family," Corby said. “Family means everything to her...and me. But I think she’s tickled to death that she gets to do this.”

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