Wednesday, July 13, 2011


In her letter to her son, Vance, dated July 30, 1933, Ina wrote as follows:

“If your paper still [comes], you know that we have had very hot weather the past week, but before it was over it turned so cool that Dad built fire in the heater two A.M.s (Friday and Saturday). Today is lovely and cool with little fleecy clouds roaming thro the sky. Earl is cutting hay on the flat. Dad is taking a much needed sleep upstairs, and Shirley is asleep on the cot on the front porch. Dad has stood the work fine this year, but we have been getting up at 4:30 or sooner for so long that he is getting worn out and Earl is noticing it too. The hot weather ripened the grain and hay is why he is cutting today.
“Dad got a new binder of the Rochdale for $218 and Earl set it up and it is going good. June was cutting his hay but broke his old binder so they are using his team now and will finish cutting his hay for him. Old Taft and Madge [the horses] are too old to make much headway on a binder. Molly cut her foot and is laid up but couldn’t work anyway. She has worked only a few days this year, being now in her thirtieth year and getting thinner all the time. You should see Earl rise early, work and manage here. He insisted on harrowing the bean ground and using the big cultivator, etc., till it only took 4 ½ days to “lay by” the 62 acres of beans on Billy’s place. In former years it would have taken a crew of 6 to 8 men two or three weeks at big wages to do it. The prospect is fine for a big crop of beans, and other crops look good, too. Earl also went down to the old timothy patch in the hollow and mowed enough hay with the old scythe to save Dad’s last $10 from going for hay.”
Leah asked some time back if Ina ever mentioned the weather. Yes, she does, but her comments are often buried in her ramblings. In this extract, we learn that they have had an early harvest due to hot weather. Harvest in our area usually doesn’t start before mid-August, though our neighbor hayed last weekend. And Ina also says that after the very hot weather it turned so cool that Julian built a fire to warm the house two days in a row.

Each year tells its own story, and this year's tale is a sadder one for agriculture at Gilbert. Due to the wet spring, Farmer Kyle was unable to plant. He says he's down 1,500 acres out of 5,000 total. Insurance will cover his land rent and a few other expenses.

[The photos above are of Julian Dobson farming with a team of horses about 1940 contrasted with the same fields left  unplanted today. One of my goals is to make an album of all the old pictures of the farm property and try to take pictures of the same scene today.] KW


drMolly, the BeanQueen said...

Kathy, can you tell me what variety or type of "beans" that were planted? I'm very interested in old-time agronomic practices. (Hmmmmm I wonder why, LOL).

Kathy said...

You know -- I don't think I know or have read. It's always "hoeing the beans," or "a carload of beans." But I could work up a post on what I do know. Apparently beans were good for them until irrigation made it possible to grow them in areas with better access to market -- and you would know more about that than I do.

Hallie said...

Maybe Pete would know what kind of beans...

Chuck said...

I remember binding hay (mostly oat hay) and working with Sam and Madge (uncle June's horses), and having the equipment hooked up with the new Cletrac crawler tractor in about 1947. One of the problems with the binder was to get the tie mechanism to work consistently.

Leah said...

Letters sent between family seem so simple and in my family always included the weather. It was almost an unwritten rule that you had to tell others if it was hot or cold, raining or snowing. Simple details in letters from long ago helped paint a picture and I think the letter writer knew this.

It's like a radio program without the sound effects. There would be a storm in the radio drama and booming sounds were heard by the listner. You understood what the characters in the radio drama were going through if you knew the weather. Radio is the only analogy in this case, because you had to use your imigination. TV doesn't allow for imigination.

I have an aunt who hardly ever wrote about her own life. She would say that their life wasn't interesting. I never learned much about this aunt & uncle. In her letters, she always repeated snippets from other family members letters. She told about another aunt's recent activities. She wrote about what was in a cousin's last letter and so on. Of course, I had received the same news that she had. I think that she felt she had to write about someone's life and she chose other people.

Chris said...

I know nothing about farming, but I love the old photos. Oh, and I do love beans, all kinds. :-)