Cotton Links

- My Turn -

Man’s Best Friend


By Jim Bradford
Dimmitt, Texas

In the summer of 1987, my future wife Sally and I picked out a small bundle of fur in Hereford, Texas. He was a golden retriever puppy only a few weeks old, and he was going to be our wedding gift to each other.

This dog was more than just a dog. He was like our first child, and we named him ‘Pard.’

I first came home to Dimmitt to partner with my Dad and brother Jack in the farming business. It was quite a challenge from living in Dallas and working for the Dallas Mavericks basketball team and the Dallas Side-kicks soccer team.

I would work at North Gin during the fall hauling cotton modules. Our loyal dog Pard made many trips in the module truck and would always sit upright in the right passenger seat like a real person. I would sometimes get accused of having a tall red-headed girlfriend in the truck. Pard would go with me everywhere.

Two years later the manager of the gin, Bill Birdwell, retired after 31 years of loyal service. I asked my Dad who was going to be the new manager, and he looked at me and said, “How about you?” My only experience in a gin was from that module truck. The gin still had a line shaft running six Murry 90 air blast gin stands and processed about 100 bales a day.

The first thing I wanted to do was replace the old flat bale press. We put in a UD press, and Dad watched it run two years before he died in November of 1993.

During the summer of 1994, we decided to install our first module feeder, and Pard was on the job every day. Pard had a bad habit of lying down for a nap whenever he so desired. While napping, a pickup truck started quickly and ran over him before he could get up. How else can I say this? Losing your Dad and your dog in a nine-month period can be extremely difficult.

Soon afterwards, Sally and my two daughters, Molly and Wendy, found our second golden retriever while in Santa Fe. We named him Boomer because he was born on the Fourth of July. Boomer soon learned to wait for me when I would go into the bank, post office or any business in Dimmitt. People learned how to keep up with me by seeing him. Most would say “hi” to that dog before even looking up at his owner.

During the 2002 gin season, I knew we needed to speed up the gin again. On Feb. 1 of 2003, we started the demolition of the entire gin. We decided to go mainly with Lummus gin machinery and hired Tracy Birkelbach to supervise the construction. Tracy had a black labrador retriever named ‘Lucky.’ Boomer and Lucky soon became best friends. Boomer and Lucky soon discovered the couch in my office. Boomer would always sleep on the south side while Lucky took the north side.

During the early part of last year’s ginning season, Boomer took a turn for the worse. He was tired and ready to go. He had done his job. I put him down on Oct. 25 and stopped his suffering. Our third golden retriever is now just over a year old, and we named him ‘Gunner.’ He is young, but he’ll be a good gin dog.

This year has been an exciting ride for all of us. Sally and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. Molly and Wendy are in high school. North Gin is 50 years old, and I’m serving as president of the Texas Cotton Ginners Association. Family, friends, customers, employees and even golden retrievers make life’s journey worthwhile.

I was thinking about my old dog Pard the other day when I was weighing module trucks. At that moment, my niece Laura, who is driving a truck this year, drove onto the scales. On the right side was her golden retriever pup named ‘Dusty.’

He was sitting up in the seat just like a good gin dog always does.

– Jim Bradford, Dimmitt, Texas

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