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 Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

Farmers bend to advances in plows

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew
The transition from horse-drawn to tractor-drawn farm equipment was both welcomed and resented by farmers.

Age of the farmer had a lot to do with the resentment, as the older farmers did not want to change longtime familiar practices. But with each passing year, the fields grew larger, forcing the change, whether the farmer liked it or not.

Some were not capable or did not want to study and learn how to set and adjust the new-fangled equipment to work properly. As a result, the few who did understand and learned the methods of adjustment were in great demand within the community.
Architectural detail - Man plowing field
TE photo

An example was the Krause one-way, a disc plow which cut the soil, stalks and weeds loose and tossed the lot to one side a few inches, severing roots and preventing regrowth. It cleaned the ground almost miraculously, but it had to be adjusted properly, especially if the soil was dry and hard.

My father, J.T. Trew, was one of the few who understood the workings of the plow, having learned his expertise from years of experience. If the plow was set properly, it would do a better job, pull more easily and stay in its proper space while conserving fuel.

After the Dust Bowl ended, with normal annual rainfall resuming, it was a common practice to plow the wheat stubble immediately after harvest. A month or so later, depending on rainfall, the stubble was again plowed to mulch it into the soil.

When fall came, the land was again plowed to kill the weeds and volunteer wheat and to plant the next year's crop. To plow efficiently each time, the implement had to be adjusted properly. This is where my father excelled.

First, to set the one-way required the proper tools, namely a 1-inch, 11/8 inch, 11/4 inch wrench, which was usually larger sizes than most farmers owned. Since we ran six one-ways at a time, Dad always kept these tools close at hand in his pickup.

The first plowing of wheat stubble was tough, requiring the plows to be narrowed down to lessen the pull. The second plowing was easier, allowing the plow to be set wider to plow a wider swath. The third plowing was even easier, often allowing two one-ways to be pulled together by one tractor by means of a steel cable device.

As each plowing time arrived, various neighbors called or stopped by to ask if Dad could set their plows. He always obliged, even though he was busy with his own farming.

The years passed, farming methods and equipment changed and the one-way plow was abandoned. You can still see these "antiques" pulled up into fence rows occasionally. Thousands were sold as junk iron or donated to the war efforts.

But, as I recall, at one time in Panhandle history, almost every farmer owned a one-way plow. I spent an eternity, (or so it seemed) dragging one or more Krause one-way plows round and round a field. It was monotonous and boring, but it sure did a good job of plowing.

Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" January 5, 2010 Column
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.

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