Progress On the Prairies

One bottom plow.

Agriculture had a very slow start in the grasslands of North America. The land was covered with grasses that have developed dense, course and extremely, strong root systems.  Nature developed a perfect building material for the early pioneers. They were blessed with a product that did not need to be transported into the area. The first homes were built with large strips of sod. It took a plow that was sharp enough to cut through it. Those grassy roots made a solid building block. to work with. That root system developed over the centuries because of a constant, strong, bitterly cold freezing North wind in winter. In the summer months, those roots became hardened by a southerly flow of blistering, hot, burning, dry, South wind from the equator. The root system had to be strong for any grass to survive under those conditions, it also got exposed to flash flooding and pouring rains, like a cow peeing on a Flat Rock.

The first pioneers attacked that sod with a small one bottom plow and a pair of oxen. It took men with good strength to hang onto the two handles on the back of that one bottom plow. He also had to get it started into the ground and then hold on tight while trying to keep it plowing straight as the oxen pulled it forward through the grass. That plow had to be sharpened many times a day to cut through those heavy roots.

You can imagine at the end of the day what was going through the farmer’s mind. Why didn’t I stay on that good job in the copper mine back in Michigan? Better yet, remained in Finland, without a care in the world. Well, what’s done is done try to make the most of it. Wouldn’t be so bad if there was something besides water in the jug at the end of the field.

We must all give thanks every day for the pioneers who came and stayed. They suffered and sacrificed some worked themselves to death with primitive equipment. They did that for love of family and the future generations. Thanks to them we prosper and have good lives today.

(The oxen Larry and Lulu were overheard talking in the barn.)

Larry / I’m so tired, doubt if I’ll get any sleep tonight. I can’t even see what we’re eating, he kept us working till dark.

Lulu/   Well I’m a little bit tired too, you started slacking off in the afternoon and he cussed at me. I don’t like that, you better start pulling your share of the load.

Larry/ I guess we do work better as a team.

Lulu/ Duh….  I would hope so!

Larry/ Well, at least tomorrow is Sunday, I can sleep.

Lulu/ No its not, tomorrow is Saturday, your getting senile.

Larry/ I’m going to be sick, I was counting on resting tomorrow.

Lulu/ I heard the farmer telling his wife he was going to get an early start in the morning, about sunrise, we better get to sleep. You didn’t hear that? See your hearing is going too!

Larry/ I can’t sleep my muscles are so sore. I can’t take much more of this!

Lulu/ There is no retirement program. Quit complaining and get to sleep. We got a long, hard day tomorrow.

Larry/ Tries to get close to Lulu

Lulu/ Stay on your side of the stall Larry, if you’re too tired to work you’re too tired for everything, so just don’t touch me.

My grand-father Charles ‘Kalle’ Wayrynen had this Reeves Steam Engine in Hamlin County South Dakota USA. It was used for breaking virgin sod, grain threshing and building moving. In 1908 they moved the old Swedish Covenant Church from the country into the town of Lake Norden, 3 miles. It was moved on big wooden rollers. Can you imagine how labor-intensive that project was?

Swedish Covenant Church 1908
Charles Wayrynen with his Reeves S\team Engine This picture is from 1911 in Hamlin County South Dakota USA.

This is Charlie’s (Kalle) cousins in Saskatchewan Canada.

More and more rigs like these started to turn the sod. Agriculture acreage increased a thousand-fold almost overnight. Everyone prospered until The Dirty 30s when that turned sod became dust storms. With modern technology and agricultural conservation programs, the land is now kept in place. The nations have prospered from agriculture. Farmers feed more and more people each year but there is still a large demand for food around the globe. Everyone should be thankful for agricultural programs that have taken place in the United States and Canada. it is unbelievable the changes that have happened in slightly more than 100 years.

Canada cousins

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tallgrass prairie in relation to the Great Plains


Shortgrass prairie

  Mixed grass prairie

  Tallgrass prairie

The tallgrass prairie is an ecosystem native to central North America. Natural and anthropogenic fire, as well as grazing by large mammals (primarily bison), were historically agents of periodic disturbance, which regulates tree encroachment, recycles nutrients to the soil, and catalyzes some seed dispersal and germination processes. Prior to widespread use of the steel plow, which enabled large scale conversion to agricultural land use, tallgrass prairies extended throughout the American Midwest and smaller portions of southern central Canada, from the transitional ecotones out of eastern North American forests, west to a climatic threshold based on precipitation and soils, to the southern reaches of the Flint Hills in Oklahoma, to a transition into forest in Manitoba.

They were characteristically found in the central forest-grasslands transition, the central tall grasslands, the upper Midwest forest-savanna transition, and the northern tall grasslands ecoregions. They flourished in areas with rich loess soils and moderate rainfall around 30-35 inches (700–900 mm) per year. To the east were the fire-maintained eastern savannas. In the northeast, where fire was infrequent and periodic windthrow represented the main source of disturbance, beech-maple forests dominated. In contrast, shortgrass prairie was typical in the western Great Plains, where rainfall is less frequent and soils are less fertile. Due to expansive agricultural land use, very little tallgrass prairie remains.

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