Monday, June 11, 2012

On North Carolina Farms, June 4, 1945

By F. H. Jeter, Editor, Agricultural Extension Service, N.C. State College, as published in the Wilmington Morning Star, June 4, 1945

Except for cotton the season has been excellent for farming in North Carolina this spring and people have been working harder than I have ever seen them before. During the past two week, I have traveled over much of the state and everywhere, men and women along with the young folks are in the fields, out in the lots, or in the gardens and truck fields hard at work attempting to get their crops started or to harvest and sell those which are ready for the market.

Throughout eastern Carolina, tobacco is growing well and corn, while not up to a perfect stand, is dark green and pushing along at a splendid rate. One can go along the road in one county and see the owners resetting tobacco in one field, chopping it in another, and plowing in a third. There is not so much cotton as last year and it is growing slowly. Some people have replanted as many as three times in the effort to get a stand. The cool weather has retarded the crop and some of it is getting grassy because of the frequent showers.

But I don’t believe I have ever seen so many good farm gardens. Not only does one see these gardens around the farmstead where all kinds of early vegetables, including snapbeans, squash and all kinds of greens, are being gathered but they can be found in fertile spots in fields. There are probably more Irish potatoes planted for home use this season than normally. Citizens of North Carolina are responding to the call for more food. This is also indicated in the effort made to grow feed for the dairy cattle, poultry and beef cattle.

The demand for fencing material is increasing steadily indicating an increased popularity for chickens and cows. The one-strand electrical fences are to be seen wherever there are rural power lines and farmers seem to be learning that it is more economical to let the animals harvest their feed than it is to haul it to them at the barns.

One encouraging sign noted in all of this farm work is that operators are employing all the farm machinery that they can get and are otherwise saving labor through increased skill in performing the various jobs. The idea seems to be to make every “lock” count.

A number of men who have had low wet places in the middle of good fields have removed these obstacles to good farming by simply blasting out drainage ditches through the use of dynamite. In Lee County the other day, C.M. Rosse and C.P. Bradley drained six acres by this means and are pleased with the results. It would have taken them several days to have drained the area using the ordinary methods of shovel and spade even had the labor been available.

O.P. Moxley of Peden in Alleghany County had an excellent concrete trench silo about 20 feet long and over 8 feet deep. He found that when he opened his silo for feeding last winter that he could not feed enough of the silage at one time to keep the material from spoiling. So he has remedied the situation this season by simply building two concrete partitions which in effect give him three small upright silos. He is feeding from the top and opens one of the uprights at a time. A door in each partition makes feeding more convenient after the first silo has been emptied. Mr. Moxley says it pays to study a situation, size it up, and then take such action as will save steps later.

Roy Goodman, farm agent of Cabarrus County, tells us an interesting story about J.L. Patterson of Concord, Route 3, who lost about 50 tons of good hay last season because of unfavorable weather conditions at curing time. Nothing discourages a farmer so much, Roy says, as to have a fine crop of hay lying on the ground day after day with spring rains making it impossible to cure and house it. Not only does the hay lose color but it also loses much of its feeding value.

Mr. Patterson, therefore, decided that he would install a hay drying system in his barn loft. Farm Agent Goodman secured the aid of C.C. McCaslan, extension engineer at State College, and they laid out the system in Mr. Patterson’s 36 by 60-foot barn loft. Builders paper was placed on the original plank floor. Then a tight floor was laid over this. A shelter was built for the fan and motor and the air ducts were built to lead into the barn. From these main air ducts, lateral ducts were placed each five feet and the entire system was ready by mid-April.

Thinking the whole thing was ready, Mr. Patterson cut 10 acres of good alfalfa, and made plans for putting it in the barn. He found then that his small 5 horsepower motor was not large enough to operate the fan as it should be but he did have a fuel power unit connected with his woodsaw and hay baler so this was transferred to the barn loft and connected with the fan. Mr. Patterson took care to run the exhaust pipe to the outside so as to eliminate any chances of fire and then he began to haul in the hay from his 10 acres of alfalfa. The hay was spread out over the drying ducts to about 3 or 4 feet deep all over the loft floor. The next morning, hay from seven more acres was added and then it rained. But 7 more acres and then 6 other acres were added until the whole barn was covered to a depth of about 7 feet. Some changes were suggested later by which the depth could be increases to 9 feet of hay at one time. But the beauty of the whole thing is that the hay drier works. It has saved cattle feed that might have been ruined by the incessant spring rains, and Mr. Patterson is so pleased that he has made plans to install another unit to take care of his large commercial hay production.

Plans also are under way to put in such a hay drying unit at the Jackson Training School farm, and other smaller farmers will install units as the need for livestock feed increases. It again adds up to the fact that North Carolina farmers are steadily and surely adding labor-saving machinery as they can get it so as to make their labor pay the biggest possible dividends.

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