Spring 1935, Waxahachie, Texas. Edna Spalding, mother to adolescents Frank and Possum Spalding, is ill-equipped and thus ill-prepared to handle many of the family responsibilities following the accidental workplace death of her husband, the town's sheriff, Royce Spalding. Chief among these responsibilities is being the family breadwinner and managing the family finances, the next mortgage payment on the farm where they live due in October. Rather than heed the advice of the banker Albert Denby to sell the farm despite the depressed market, Edna will do whatever she needs to keep herself and her kids where they know as home. From some unsolicited advice from a black stranger, beggar Moze Hadner, Edna, to earn enough to make that mortgage payment, decides to farm cotton, about which she knows nothing. And despite something that Moze does against her, Edna hires him to be her sole farmhand. Also adding a small amount to the household finances is her new boarder who in reality is foisted upon her by Mr. Denby, namely his loner, blind brother-in-law, Will, who would be institutionalized otherwise. They as a collective will have to contend with a depressed market, Mother Nature, racial tensions within the segregated community among other issues to get the crop to market to make that payment, with determination, love and support which may keep them going after a rough start between the Spaldings and the two new men in their lives. With Royce's death, the issue of spousal dependency touches not only Edna, but her sister Margaret Lomax, who loves her husband Wayne Lomax, unaware that he is having an affair with his friend Buddy Kelsey's schoolteacher wife, Viola Kelsey.