Document B: Svobida Account
In January a foot of snow fell, but that was all the moisture we had, and it was not enough to make a crop. Some of my wheat came up, but it was thin, sickly-looking stuff, with only two or three leaves to a plant. I drove to the irrigated district fifteen miles northwest of Garden City and by paying almost double the price quoted on the open market, I obtained some seed barley, which I proceeded to drill into the land where I had no hope of a wheat crop. This meant extra labor and expense, but I was bound to get from my land what it could be made to yield. New varieties of disaster awaited my every effort.Most of my remaining wheat fell an easy prey to the first gales of February, and none of the wheat that was up in the region could long withstand the succeeding gales, which first chopped off the plants even with the ground, then proceeded to take the roots out. They did not stop there. They blew away the rich topsoil, leaving the subsoil exposed; and then kept sweeping away at the "hard-pan," which is almost as hard as concrete.This was something new and different from anything I had ever experienced before--a destroying force beyond my wildest imaginings. When some of my own fields started blowing, I was utterly bewildered.I took counsel with some of my neighbors who had had greater experience, but received little in the way of encouragement. According to their information, there was little hope of saving a crop once the land had started blowing; and the only known method of checking the movement of the soil was the practice of strip listing. This meant running deep parallel furrows twenty or thirty feet apart, in an east and west direction, across the path of the prevailing winds. This tends to check the force of the wind along the ground, and allows the fine silt like dust to fall into the open furrows.Everyone in the region grasped at this slim chance to save a crop.
Railroads with land grants to dispose of, states with land scrip to sell, the Federal Government with its homestead policy, speculators, and barbed wire, all combined to restrict and eventually to abolish most of the free range, but cattle and horse raising continued to be the most important industry over a large part of the Great Plains until the 1920's.Here had been overgrazing before the coming of the settlers and the invasion of barbed wire, but the death knell of the Plains was sounded and the birth of the Great American Desert was inaugurated with the introduction and rapid improvement of power farming. Tractors and combines made of the Great Plains region a new wheat empire, but in doing so they disturbed nature's balance, and nature is taking revenge.From newspaper stories, garbled from Government reports, it is easy to get an impression of the Dust Bowl farmers as an impoverished lot of submarginal people eking out a miserable existence on a submarginal land. On the contrary, most of these people are of the finest American stock, the descendants of pioneers from New