Farming the Dust Bowl: A First-Hand Account from Kansas
This is the story of Lawrence Svobida, a Kansas wheat farmer who fought searing drought, wind, erosion, and economic hard times in the Dust Bowl. It is a vivid account by a farmer who pitted his physical strength, mental faculties, and financial resources against the environment as nature wreaked havoc across the southern Great Plains. Svobida's description of Dust Bowl agriculture is important not only because it accurately describes farming in that region but also because it is one of the few first-hand accounts that remain of the frightening and still haunting dust-laden decade of the 1930's.
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This is a first hand account of a farmer who struggled to raise crops in Kansas between 1931 and 1938, an area and time immortalised in Dorothea Lange´s photographs of the Dust Bowl. Svobida wrote this book in 1940, having given up the fight, but reading his story you´d wonder if any of us would have lasted so long against such overwhelming odds. His narrative records, season by season, hopes lifted and then dashed, and his preparations to do it all again, and again, until there was nothing left. It seems the driest of subjects, but he talks passionately about the things that were important to him, wheat and barley and maize, and yields and farm machinery. He talks about his neighbours, and the townsfolk and the Government schemes (and candidly about cheats and cowards as well) and in his quiet calm way lays out the whole of the story before the reader, just as he intended - this is what it was like, so that you know (so that we never forget). Svobida faced all this alone, having no family in this period, working the farm himself for the most part, always ready to help a neighbour. Once they might have made a film from this story, the sort of role that Tom Hanks would play so well. In a sense nothing happens in this story, but you realize after a long while - it creeps up on you - that the simple persistence of Svobida´s humanity and determination is the extraordinary thing, more so for him making nothing special of it. There´s all sorts of good reasons to get hold of this book and read it, I can´t recommend it too highly.
wonderful account of farming in the Dust Bowl. I found it to be a first hand account and felt like you were part of it. It showed the struggles of attempting to farm in a desert.