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

Problems for farmers
multiplied during war

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew
I hear farmers tell of turning plows, moldboard plows, disc harrows, cultivators and all sorts of farm equipment.

I know little of these implements although I was born and raised on a Panhandle farm. The reason for my ignorance, all we had to farm with in my youth was Krause one-ways, Jefferoy chisels and a pair of John Deere grain drills hitched together.

Although the only crops we raised were wheat and milo, we certainly raised our share of those grains as my father farmed six sections of dryland using six tractors, six plows and six chisels, and planted it all with two grain drills.

He stayed put during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl. Said he was too broke to leave. It wasn't easy working on the WPA helping build Highway 83 between Perryton and Canadian. At times he drove a school bus, worked for the county and played dance music every Saturday night.

It seemed each time a neighbor gave up because of hard times, somehow Dad was offered the land and usually ended up with more equipment. When the drought finally ended and the rains came, he was ready and able to take advantage.

All worked well until World War II took most of the workforce to war. Dad called on long-lost relatives, cruised the roads looking for hitchhikers, watched for prisoners released from jail and offered higher than usual wages trying to keep enough tractor drivers to farm. Finally, he gave up and began hiring young high school boys with no farm experience. Somehow, the farming was done, but the problems nearly drove him crazy.

The problems of keeping one old worn-out tractor and plow running during the war when parts and tires were rationed was multiplied six times, then multiplied again when the boys began work. We started at daylight, stopped to refuel at noon, ate in the field and worked until dark-thirty six days a week. There were no sun shades, air conditioners, radios nor seat cushions. We had a gallon jug of water and sheer, mind-boggling boredom going round section fields.

By mid-afternoon, young minds began to wander, speeds were adjusted so that tractors came closer in front or behind. Each tractor had a supply of dirt clods, and the wars began. If you became sleepy, it was legal to stop for a moment to jog around your tractor. This opened the door to chase baby rabbits and moving baby birds into plowed ground.

All kinds of critters and reptiles began showing up in toolboxes, grease was smeared on iron steering wheels, grass burrs dropped on gunny sack seat pads all amidst flying dirt clods. Dad finally had to place Uncle CB in the field full time to keep the tractors running and the pranks at bay.

At about age 12 or so, I asked Dad if I could plow at night. I was tired of the sun and thought the cool of night would be better. It was the longest spell of time I can remember. About 2 in the morning, my feeble tractor headlights made from old school bus lights and a 6-volt generator running off the power pulley on the tractor showed something up ahead in the plow furrow. As the object got closer, I slowed down and stopped. It was a one-way plow sitting at ease.

It was a mystery until I looked behind to find my own plow missing.

Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" January 6, 2008 Column
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.
Related Topics: Ranching | World War II
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