Tuesday, May 24, 2011

About the Plow

When Farmer Fred and I were younger, we lived off the farm. We spent time driving to the farm and back to our home nearly every week during the farming season and often in the winter. You know how families are, familiar and knowing what to expect without words. When making the frequent decision of whether or not to drive to the farm a few key phrases developed. Should we go to the farm? Well, it's too windy to stack BB's and it's too wet to plow. 
There are three elements in that sentence that are integral to farming in GriggsDakota:  
Wind - nearly constant and often sharp and strong.
Wet - too much moisture or too little. Rarely the perfect balance.
Plow - The plains were originally a grassland. The plow made it farmland. Pioneers came with seed, a plow, and a cow in a wagon pulled by horses or oxen to carve out a life.
Having been raised a good Lutheran, I feel compelled to give explanations, just as Luther's Small Catechism did for every important point included in each study. "What does this mean for your life?" it would ask me. It provided the concise answer in the paragraph that followed the question. When you were a catechism student, there was no time to contemplate, you just had to memorize the book. The meaning of life's biggest questions were clearly mapped out. 
This is most certainly true.
But I digress, let's talk plow.
After a bit of research on the Internet, I found The American Agriculturist of 1859 on Google Books. 
The plow, even then, was viewed to be inadequate. Of course, it was then limited in its usefulness by the beasts that pulled it, horses or oxen.
It had some wooden parts back then,
 rather than iron and steel with hydraulic hosing.
 But the implement itself compresses the soil that it lifts and loosens the soil that it leaves in the furrow. It was acknowledged even in 1859 to provide an inadequate seed bed when finished.
 It must be followed by cultivator and harrow.  As Farmer Fred would say, "That's a lot of passes." In modern farming we are always looking to reduce our passes over the ground to reduce fuel consumption and man hours.
It also leaves the earth vulnerable to wind, especially during our long, often dry winters. Dirt has blown off plowed fields in great clouds during snowless winters on the plains. Eroding the precious topsoil that the plow turned to expose. 
We convened a meeting of the GriggsDakota Board of directors which came to the following conclusion: 
It is now, officially, too late to plow in GriggsDakota.


  1. Hi. I linked to your blog from Katie Pinke's Pinke Post. This is a lovely site. My favorite part of this particular post was your picture and explanation of the "board of directors." My husband grew up on a farm and this reminds me of him and his brothers. Thanks for sharing a beautiful example of a real American farm!

  2. Thank you for reading the blog and for taking time to comment. The kind words in comments really inspire me.