Want To Gamble? Try Working A Farm
By W. P. Sissell
In 1947 we had just bought the first farm after having to sell out for the Enid flood control structure—Enid Reservoir. You will note that I used the proper technical terminology for referring to that structure. That is definitely beside the point now but I do not believe that my Dad ever gave in to realizing the absolute necessity for the whole program. He was averaging, as others were, nearly two bales to the acre in those years—we called it ice cream land. Reuel Jr. and I did that on our joint cotton crop in 1936. We used tractors mostly in the preparation of the land and faithful old mules for cultivation.
That first farm I referred to above was at Taylor. Mr. Chandler Karr told me that he would like to sell his farm so that he could go into the grocery business. When I told my Dad about it he said, “Walk over it and come tell me what you think about it.”
When I was at home again the next weekend we went to see Mr. Karr and Dad bought the place—after walking over it to confirm my summation. In addition he bought the tractor and equipment that Mr. Karr had matching the tractor. There were no mules involved in the trade—in fact only two of our mules ever set foot on that place and they were given away with the provision that they never become animal food.
In my tenure at Northwest Community College one of my subjects was meteorology—especially as it pertains to the weather. I love to hear the younger ones—just starting out—as they get to know our location and the special things that affect our weather. I do listen to that old man Dave on WMC-TV.
I told Miss Betty that I was going to postpone the writing of this article until I returned today, October 12. Nannette and I had an appointment with our Doctor in Clinton, Arkansas (I saw that state name spelled Arkansaw on a hand written sign). We traveled in a huge circle across some of the Mississippi Delta’s richest lands crossing into Arkansas at Helena. Thirty miles past Helena, still in that delta land, the crop conditions continued to worsen.
Almost all of this land has been land formed and is under irrigation. There are a few center pivots. Most of it is in rice or soybeans in alternate years. At one place “Arkansas yams” were advertised and we saw a field full of workers picking up yams on Sunday afternoon. We saw a number of father son pairs riding the turn rows where they could get to them. We saw one fellow with boxes of ears of corn—presumably to check the amount of sprouting (yes , in the shuck on the stalk). Beans rotted or severely damaged in the pod. I’m talking about tens of thousands of acres in one of the “bread baskets” of our nation!
I don’t know, but let me tell you that agriculture is a praying occupation so add to that topic heading—you pray. Now let me tell you about what we did in another age and day. I am almost certain that the year was 1947 or 48. On that little Taylor place we were trying to implement a plan which I had formulated. That plan involved feeding out hogs on corn raised on that farm. We had built pens for individual sows—special types—Tamworth. Ten acres of corn had been planted. It looked so good that Mr. Frank Tucker got us to enter it in a corn yield contest. It won the contest with a yield of 93 bushels plus per acre (that corn was one of those new things called hybrids). Joe and Mitch Stribling had pulled the ten acres putting the corn in “heap rows”—this was the usual thing to do in that day. Now it was under water.
The cotton was ready to be picked as soon as we could get to it—snow white. We all went to bed and dreamed of the fine crop to be gathered on the Taylor place. When we awoke the next morning the level bottom land of the place was under water. Most of the cotton was picked and laid in a muddy heap on the south line fence. We realized two bales (the whole crop). When I walked into Mr. Ross Brown’s store he took one look and said fifteen cents per pound.
The corn, the feed for the hogs? We took a team of mules to the Taylor place. Joe and Mitch with Roy Folson, I think, removed the top frames from the rubber tired wagon and rigged a tongue and hitch for mules.
The corn that the twelve inch side planks held, not quite full, was all the pair of mules wanted to pull out of the mud in that corn field. They spread that wet corn in the new barn (it didn’t leak) for a few days and then transferred it to the crib next door.
Those mules did get the corn to the crib. I’m not spoofing the new machines—they are great.
What do you do???????— You just suck it up and say “Next year will be better” and pray.
Our wish for you is that you will have a great week. We know that we’re going to have that kind of week—Dr. Warren gave us a great report.
You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606. or 662-563-9879.