SEGMENT: FARMING METHODS, LOSS OF FARM, & REFLECTIONS

Karl Boekenhauer>NIU Collection>NIU Collection, Segment 4

SEGMENT: FARMING METHODS, LOSS OF FARM, & REFLECTIONS,

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ACTIVITIES
Arranged work so 1-2 wk vacation after threshing. Neighbor boy hired to do farm chores (care for livestock & chickens). Went to different places including Sister Bay, northern WI & other places within 500 miles.
CHICKENS
Had a flock of 500 laying hens. "Egg-man" came around twice a wk & picked up eggs. Karl notes that some farmers with many fewer laying hens took their eggs to local grocery store usually on Saturdays & traded eggs for groceries.
MARKETING
Some grain sold. Corn & oats were cheap. Corn was $.15/bushel, but necessities were cheap also, e.g., gas was 5gal/$. Sold excess grain (that not fed to livestock or used as seed for next year's planting) at local elevator & paid by the bushel.
FARMING METHODS
Started out with two-row planter pulled by horses. Corn cultivation was planted & cultivated in a "checked" pattern (42" x 42"). Did about 4-5 cultivations to kill weeds. Planted about 12k plants/acre. By narrowing (20") rows & abandoning checked planting & cultivation of corn farmers got 20-22k plants/acre.
AGRO-CHEMICALS
Pesticide use not as common as today. Remembers corn borer but not solution Diseases not as great in past. Continuous corn planting has probably increased disease problems.
REFLECTIONS
"Farming was part of me." Started farming because he liked the challenge & independence better than teaching. He quit his college education to start farming
LOSS OF FARM
Karl quit in 1952. "The banker helped….." change his mind about farming.
LAND ACQUISITION
Karl started out renting land & later bought 80 acre farm (at $100/acre) from uncle who did not have sons (but wanted farm to stay in family). Paid uncle on installments of $25/ month.
LOSS OF FARM
Economics & poor management forced him out. When he was in egg business eggs were cheap. When raised hogs, hogs were cheap (sold for $3.5). When was in dairy business milk sold for $2.5.
TENANT FARMING
Considered expanding. Did work 3 farms, on crop share farming arrangement in which landowner was paid with 50% of profits, before quitting, but expansion did not improve profitability.
CROP ROTATION
240 acre farm would have 4 60 acre fields; rotation would be 3 yrs of corn then year of oats then year of pasture or hay.