Dust Bowl Tragedies
Imagine being blinded by dirt and disoriented by wind. Imagine having to cover your faces whenever you left the house and having to cover your food whenever you ate. Well, welcome to the Dust Bowl. During the 1930’s dust storms took over the Great Plains and the borders of Texas and Oklahoma. Many Americans had troublesome days due to the dust storms which were mainly caused by the loss of short grass prairie. With tractors many farmers over plowed their fields and with the grass gone, it would leave dry soil which increased dust storms damage to homes and people’s lives.
Also climate conditions weren’t so helpful during these harsh times. The lack of rain caused the soil to become dry and allow the dust storms to sweep it up. One major cause of the Dust Bowl was the loss of the short grass prairie. Since farmers had tractors now they would plow all their land. With so many farmers in the Southern Great Plains, a lot of grass was ripped up and used for farming. Many farmers had large amounts of lands, therefore when they would plow the grass it would leave left overs which increase the size of dust storms.
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The grass that would be cut would grow about four inches tall and once plowed the soil would be dry plus the amount of dead grass would also make dust storms worse. As Stuart Chase once noted, “Grass is what counts. It’s what saves us all – far as we get saved…. Grass is what holds the earth together” (Chase145). That quote pretty much summed up why destruction of grass was such a key point in the dust bowl. The roots of the grass hold the dirt in place, but with so much grass missing, the wind could easily pick up the dirt and that is exactly what happened.
Before farmers started to use tractors they used horses; which for Fred Folkers, a farmer during the 1930’s, produced nearly enough to stay afloat (Egan147). Folkers used a tractor, a plow, and a combine, each one did something different. The tractor was the main source for farming; it did the work of ten horses (147). To many farmers the tractor “changed everything,” it made work easier and faster, it also increased their harvest rate. The use of tractors is what made the dust storms worse, with farmers over plowing, cutting all the short grass prairies made left over dried grass which durst storms would consume.
The lack of rain during the 1930’s made times even worse. According to John Wesley Powell twenty inches of rain annually was the minimum for successful farming on the plains (Francis151). Throughout the years, from 1930 through 1940 the annual rainfall was less than twenty inches. The lack of rain caused the crops/grass to become dry as well as the soil. Witch dried up grass and soil, the dust storms damage would increase. The annual rainfall of the five Dust Bowl towns was around seventeen inches which wasn’t very helpful to the farmers. With rainfall being below normal during the Dust Bowl years, there were harsh times for many families.