Weatherford Democrat


January 6, 2013

NOW HEAR THIS: Drought, groundwater, ethanol and idiots


During the 1930s an almost endless wave of dust storms slammed the southern plains of the United States causing one of the most severe ecological disasters in our nation’s history. The tragic consequences were physically, financially and emotionally devastating to the farming folks primarily of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, along with many others in adjoining states.

An estimated 100 million acres of farmland were severely damaged, with as much as 75 percent of the topsoil lost to wind erosion. I’ve read that an eighth of California’s population is of “Okie” origin because of those who fled the Dust Bowl. John Steinbeck’s classic, “Grapes of Wrath” (1939), tells of this era.

The cause of this epic “natural” disaster has been mostly attributed to greatly increased mechanization of agriculture and improper farming methods that failed to prevent or mitigate the losses from wind erosion. Using huge tractors and steel plows to lay bare thousands of acres of the short-grass plains was a recipe for disaster. A huge influx of settlers seeking free land under the Homestead Act, along with high commodity prices, caused agricultural production to soar in the region.

Government intervention and assistance in the 1930s and ‘40s helped stabilize the hard-hit region. Subsidized planting of wind breaks throughout the Plains, introduction of new farming methods with the creation of the Soil Conservation Service and subsidy payments to farmers to entice them to adopt these practices led to a much more stable condition by the 1940s.

Recently, I have been reading about a return of the problems of the Dust Bowl days. More than 60 percent of the United States is currently affected by drought conditions, with much of the traditional Dust Bowl states being gripped by “exceptional” drought. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, no relief is in sight.

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    Almost without exception, most farms are protected to some degree by guard animals. Dogs and cats are most commonly used to defend against intruders and nuisance pests around the farmstead. In recent years with the proliferation of coyotes, many folks are using guard donkeys or llamas to protect their livestock.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Laws can’t be ignored

    Senator Harry Reid said, “We just can’t let people ignore the law.”

    April 20, 2014

  • 0912 one bday wm j kelly 2013 mug.jpg KELLY: What do you think?

    Not much is known about this Joseph’s life. The one thing I know for sure is that he was a very brave man.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hamilton, Lee.jpg HAMILTON: Government as innovator? You bet!

    Five years ago, the federal government spent $169 billion to fund basic research and development. This fiscal year, it’s down to $134 billion.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Showing respect

    My sister Robbie Benton’s funeral was Friday afternoon at White’s Funeral Home. The gravesite was outside of Mineral Wells. The respect shown by the good folks of Parker County and the surrounding area was overwhelming.

    April 17, 2014

  • larry jones cropped:color NOW HEAR THIS: Going on a wild goose chase

    In recent years I’ve written quite a bit about the introduction and negative consequences of non-native or invasive species. Fire ants, killer bees, English sparrows, Asian carp, feral hogs and others too numerous to list have forever changed our local ecosystem.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo


    Have you seen those TV offers where they give a price for one product and then offer a second like items for-free? All you have to do is pay a separate shipping and handling charge for the “free” items.

    April 13, 2014

  • John Paul Carter-color.jpg NOTES FROM THE JOURNEY: What’s in a name?

    Names are important. When my son, Rush, (who’s named after my father) and his wife, Vanessa, were expecting their third daughter, I gave up on having a male namesake and suggested, in jest, they call her “Johnnie Pauline.”

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • tiscione, lou.jpg TISCIONE: The Christian and the government

    The church in the Old Testament lived under a theocracy. That is, both the church and state were one. God anointed kings. Civil laws and religious laws were one and the same.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • larry jones cropped:color NOW HEAR THIS: Getting in the chicken business

    Anyone who is my age or older has heard the famous quote, “A chicken in every pot.” It is normally attributed to Herbert Hoover during his 1928 presidential bid.

    April 6, 2014 1 Photo

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