Thursday, July 7, 2016

"The farmers in Bovina are worse off...." - Bovina Farmers in the summer of 1896

The summer of 1896 proved to be a rough one for Bovina farmers. The Andes Recorder reported on this in its issues in July of that year, noting that "farmers in Bovina are worse off in many respects than those in adjoining towns." There were several causes, including the lack of rain and pests. In the July 3, 1896 Recorder, the Bovina column reported "Some have commenced haying this week. The grass is very plenty while the grasshoppers are very plenty." Two weeks later, the same paper reported that "grasshoppers have destroyed whole patches of buckwheat...." The paper also noted that some farmers were "cutting their oats for hay."

It wasn't just the grasshoppers making life hard for the farmers. The same paper reported that the "army worm has gotten here and are committing their work of ruin." T.C. Strangeway cut one piece of oats to find that it was covered with worms. 

With the lack of rain and the pests, it is not surprising that the Recorder was reporting that "The hay crop is exceedingly light, and many farmers have not cut much over a third of a crop.  James Mitchell, who has a good sized dairy, cut twelve loads, and James Hastings, with forty head of cattle, was only four days and a half doing his haying.  Nearly every farmer has the same story to tell." Similar reports continued through the end of July, with the paper noting that "A good many have finished haying and the majority say they have only about half a crop, as compared with last year. There will be lots of cows to dispose of this fall."

The challenges to Bovina farmers that summer seemed to have abated in August and September - at least in terms of their corn. In September, it was reported that "A large quantity of corn has been harvested in the past two weeks, and a large amount yet remains to be harvested." 

The following February, however, a problem with the hay that was harvested in July was reported by the Recorder: " Many think that the grasshoppers working on the hay and straw the past season, is the cause of so much sickness among cows and horses here this winter." The topic of the poor hay harvest came up again in the paper in late April: "Robert F. Thompson’s cows have had no hay for over a month. Several other farmers are also out of hay.  The cows have been fed on grain and have picked what grass they could get." By the next summer, it appears things for most farmers were back to normal. 

No comments:

Post a Comment