Harvest Tales - Gray and Meade counties
Farming in Gray & Meade counties
My name is Howard William Stude. I was born April 28, 1919, in Cooper Township, Stafford County, Kansas. I married on May 2, 1941, to Ruth Elaine Witt. We made our home in the area of Copeland and I continued farming in Haskell County.
I leased six more quarters south of Copeland in Meade County the spring of 1946 and farmed one of those quarters--NE 17-30-30--until I retired.
About 1949 I rented a quarter section of land from Mr. Ernest Frazier in Gray County and another one from Mrs. Bernice Nichols in Meade County. I farmed them until I retired.
I remember when we started harvesting that fall of 1951. We didn't have any wheat that year, due to worms, but we had a big maize crop that fall. That harvest Johnnie, my son, got his first truck-driving lesson. He hadn't even gone to school yet, for he was five years old. We had an old '47 Dodge truck with a five-speed transmission. We still had a pull-type combine and Ruth's dad, William H. A. Witt, would operate it. I'd put that old Dodge in first gear and Johnnie would steer it around the field. Then I would jump on the tractor and take off. In first gear that old truck wouldn't go very fast. At least it stayed up with us, or I could catch it when I got a bin full.
The years from 1952 until 1957 were very dry years with some blowing dust. 1952 was the driest year I can remember. We had three-fourths of an inch of rain in February. That was it until December but for a skiff [very light amount] of snow. The dust wasn't as bad as in the 30's because we had better equipment to control it. Even with all the dry weather we had in 1952, we still raised a good wheat crop, for 1951 was a very wet year.
In 1953 I put in an irrigation well in Gray County. It was among the first in that county.
I traded my 1947 pull-type, John Deere, 20 ft. combine in early March for 12 pairs of cows and calves. They ate up all the feed I had on hand. I sold them the first of July, getting only $2744 for them. I had valued them at $3600 in March when I traded for them. That fall and winter, I saw good cows sell for as little as $50 per head.
I think I got my first John Deere tractor with hydraulic power on it in 1952. Those hydraulic cylinders sure beat the old plow levers for getting a tool in and out of the ground. Hydraulic power and cabs on the tractors made farming a lot easier and better.
Around 1954 we had a very late frost on May 21st! That is the latest frost I can remember.
In December of 1956 we purchased the Emmitt Clancy farmstead, in Mertilla Township south of Copeland just across the county line into Meade County. We moved out there in May 1957. I also leased another 800 acres from him.
I think the longest blizzard we had was on March 19, 1957. It blew and snowed for about 2 days. We couldn't even drive from one end of town to the other.
Moving to the Meade County farm doubled my farming. We really didn't make any money raising wheat after 1952 until 1960.
In 1957, I put down a big irrigation well on the farmstead. Irrigation was a big boost to the economy. I did have a big milo crop in 1957.
We had four hailstorms in 1958. The biggest hailstones I saw were grapefruit size. We had a good wheat crop that year, but it was hailed out just as we started to harvest it. It was the worst year I had for hail damage on my crops.
My wife, Ruth, cooked delicious meals and often hauled them out to the field to the harvest crew. She also drove trucks for me sometimes, and drove to town for parts when the machinery broke down.
My daughters, Marilyn and Carolyn, also drove the trucks in harvest, unloading on the go from the combine, as well as my son, John. I remember my dad, John Stude, worrying about the possibility that my son would wreck the combine when he first started unloading on the go. But neither he nor the girls ever did hit the combine. My son, John, also drove the combine.
I farmed in Stafford County, Haskell County, Meade County, and Gray County during my lifetime. Farming was my joy through the years. I felt like I was just a steward of the land while I farmed it, whether I owned it or rented the land. I appreciated my wife's support through the years for without that support I know our farming career would not have been as successful as it was.
In 1990 we sold our farmstead in Meade County, south of Copeland, and moved to Dodge City.