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The Dust Bowl

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Time Frame: 1929-1939

Drought devastated many Iowa farms.
Iowa Heritage Hard Times
©1979
Iowa Public Television

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Transcript

There was such a surplus in 1933 that the AAA called for the destruction of some crops and livestock. But the following year, nature more than eliminated the surplus. In the plains states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska, the lack of rain had dried up much of the topsoil and blown it half way across the continent. In Iowa severe heat and drought parched the land.

We sat around, waiting for rain after the crops started—we planted corn. Every cloud that floated over, we hoped for rain and not a drop fell. And I planted seeds in dry dust. Looked up and there was a whole cloud of dust obscuring the sky above me. So the summer went on and we stayed inside out of the blazing sun and finally we had to turn our sheep in on the oats—they were too short to cut. The sheep had eaten the pasture down to the roots. All they left was a good crop of ragweed.

Well ’36 and ’34 was two years you could never forget. They were so dry. The chickens would just die—right in the yard. I had my hens walk from the house to the pump really and die on the way. They just flocked around you when you come out the door—they wanted water. Boy, our well went dry and we hauled water up out of the creek. Oh—I’ve never seen such time.

If my husband would have come in and said all the livestock laid down and died that night, I wouldn’t have been surprised because it seemed just one thing after another. We planted Sudan grass that first summer—so that we would have hay. After one cutting, I went down the road one day and here was an army of chinch bugs—I don’t know if it was two or three inches wide—they were just going right across the road into our Sudan field. It wasn’t but a few days ‘til it was just desolate.

 


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