Tag Archives: farming practices

The Day the Sun Died

Judith – Your email arrived with this query – “Gram, why did you say the dust storms were scary?”.  You could not imagine the flood of memories that poured over me when I read that!  In a flash I was a child again – hearing the wind howl and smelling the suffocating dust.  I will try to answer —-

Why were the storms scary?  Let me tell you about the first one I experienced when I was about 5 years old.  The background is that we were in the middle of a severe drought.  For some time – I cannot remember how long but for several years we had received less than usual rainfall.  Crops were poor, and always “next year” was expected to return to normal.  However the adverse conditions continued.  The land dried out more and more.  I can remember cracks in the field so big that sometimes tools dropped would fall into a crack and be lost.  Then the winds began to get worse.  In those days the farming practice was to sow half of your land, and summer fallow the other half.  The land which was left fallow was cultivated to remove all weeds.  The accepted farming belief then was that this was the best farming practice, to keep the grains grown from being hampered by weeds, and also from having weed seeds mixed in with the harvested grain.  So, drought, soil getting drier and drier, winds getting stronger, and large sections of land with the soil cultivated, no ground cover, and vulnerable to blowing.  I don’t know the physics of what happened next, but it seemed that a strong wind blowing would start to pick up soil, and almost like a storm on the ocean when the waves get bigger and bigger, the storm would roll on over the countryside, adding soil as it went — you get the picture.     Continue reading


Filed under Prairie Childhood