Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Grandma Book :: The Family Farm

Whew ... Between Christmas ... Cold weather ... and most recently the passing of my Grandmother it has been busy and I have not been blogging. I'm ready to go again, but instead of my thoughts I thought it would be great to share some "blogging" from my Grandma. I assume that this was written after the effects of the Farm Crisis had hit the Book Family. At the peak my Grandpa and three of his sons were farming roughly 1500 acres with diverse crop and livestock operation. Most of that was lost ...

Grandma and Grandpa Book with their egg laying flock.

About The Farm Crisis of the 1980's
The Book Family is Part of That History

The farm crisis crept up on us through the affluent 1970's. In the 1970's, we farmers finally could feel equal to our city neighbors. A farmer was usually worth more than the merchant on main street. This was a new feeling for me, who had lived through the Great Depression of the 1930's, and the struggling years of the '40's, '50's and '60's. At long last, corn was over $1.00 per bushel. Soybeans got up to $7.00 and more.

In the late '60's Don and I had bought land at a high price. We paid from $400 an acre for the more rolling land to $800 per acre for the best land. We owned the home 80 acres, bought in the 1940's and paid for with corn, soybeans, hay, fed cattle, and hogs. The home place was mortgaged to make down payments. The banks were easy to get along with because land values were going up.

Don had started farming with a John Deere tractor bought with the money from cattle he fed out with his dad on the farm at Storm Lake. He married the girl he had met at Iowa State College, Pauline Kingsbury, me. We rented a half section from Bertam Holst who was a prominent business man in Boone. In fact he owned a bank. We borrowed money, and bought on time the necessary machinery to farm 320 acres in Boone Co.

After a few years Don began to realize his dream of owning land. We sold the convertible and scraped together a down payment on the 80 acres in Milford Township, Story County, Iowa.

I feel the need to remember farming all those 320 acres, feeding all those cattle, stringing the corn along in the bunks, the hired men, carrying water to the hogs, pumping water by hand from the pump west of the house. At first there was no electricity. Two sons were born, ditches were dug for water pipes after rural electricity lit up our house ... thus you get a bit of an idea of how it was before buying all the land.


Lily G. said...

So sorry to read of the loss of your Grandma. Thoughts are with you during this time. Keep your chin up!

Mary Ann said...

I's so sorry for your grandma's loss... but please, tell us more about her story!

Anonymous said...

We're sorry for your loss, but you've given your grandmother a wonderful tribute by sharing her piece of writing - you can hear all the hard work that went into building up to that prosperous feeling she opens the paragraph with.

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