We Are Off and Running
You will remember that we moved into / onto Grandpa Easley's River Farm on Friday, January 31, 1941. It was a very rainy year. That was good, because the country had just come out of a 10 year drought ... from 1930 to 1940. The drought had been broken in 1936 or 39 ... but once the rains started, it took a while for them to become consistent again.
FDR was elected president in 1933. The Dust Bowl was already in full swing, and the Great Depression was singing right along with it. The president had collected together a bunch of advisers to help get the country going again. Congress was very reluctant to start spending money. They weren't concerned about the weather problems in the southwest of the United States. On Sunday, April 14, 1935, one of FDR's advisers, Hugh Hammond Bennett arrived in Washington, D.C. on that same day a huge black dust bowl Sand Storm roared into town covering the sun and dousing the White House with dirt. Next day when he spoke to Congress, he said, "Gentlemen, this is what I've come to tell you about." That year they passed the Soil Conservation Act. A result of that, was the "Shelter Belt of Trees" across Grandpa"s farm, between the cultivated land and the pasture land. The tree row was six rows wide and 1/2 mile long, west to east. Each row was all of one type of trees: mulberries, honey locust, black walnut, Bois d'Arc, evergreen and I'm not sure of the other one ... I think those were the kinds. The purpose was to help with wind control. I think they were probably planted in 1939. Government employs planted them along with many other projects all across the country.
Now the rapid march forward began. Grandpa died, Uncle Everett and Aunt Pearl moved to Washington State. We moved in. The two rooms attached to the porch on the east end of the house were moved to the southeast of the house for the grain bins of a new milk barn. Then it was time to start planting early crops. Daddy planted several acres of cow feed, tall stalks with small grains (don't know how to spell it...something like: hygerra) (does any one know the proper spelling? It is a grain from Africa.) for use as the year wore by. Since we had so much rain, the crops grew and grew.
Lawton and Nina with Edwin lived in the little Red House a half mile south of our house. He helped in the harvest. They dug two trench silos to the south of our new barn [not the stone dairy barn]. Those were 12 or 14 feet wide and probably 75 or 100 feet long. I'd guess they were 10 feet deep. As the harvest was ready, the fodder was ground in the field and dumped into the trenches. The feed was covered with dirt and cured as it would have in the upright silos of the north. They also made two trench silos at Papa's place to the west of his barns. Ours were all used up and empty in a timely manner. But Papa's weren't used until in the mid 60's when Lawton was working that place. He opened those silos and the cattle lapped up the silage as if he was hand feeding candy bars.
Early that spring, Papa and the men planted the orchard on our place just to the north of the Shelter Belt. It was 4 or 5 years before we begin picking fruit off those trees...but O So good! At the time, those years didn't seem so rushed, but looking back, I know the days and nights were full of non-stop activity, mixed with lots of fun.
I remember walking down the cattle lane from our barn yard to the end of the lane where it opened into the pasture. About a quarter mile more as I walked along the edge of the hill, the ground was wet and spring water was seeping out. My shoes got soggy and as I came in sight of Nina's house, I angled off over the side of the hill and made my way down to spend a couple hours playing with Edwin and Nina. I can only assume that Mother had called ahead to arrange the plans for me to make the trip alone. Nina must have been watching for me. I don't remember going home. So Mother or Daddy must have picked me up. I couldn't have been more than 3 1/2 years old. I can't imagine sending one of mine at that age, even in that time period, on that kind of hike. But I can verify that it really happened.