Sunday, April 29, 2012

State Health Nurse Checks Cleveland County Students, 1922

A state board of health nurse inspects students at a Cleveland County school, March 1922. (From UNC-Chapel Hill’s Learn NC, online at The photo taken by Ellis Studio in Shelby is part of the Dr. George M. Cooper Photograph Collection, PhC.41, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Lee County Agent's Week, 1948

From the April 1948 issue of Extension Farm-News, a monthly newsletter sent from N.C. State College to state Extension Service employees

From the notes of K.S. Harmon, Lee County’s Extension Agent, for the week of March 8 through 13, 1948:

A lot of talk about recent weather, impatient farmers talking on street corner, a bale of hay in the trunk of a farmer’s car. A family milk cow staked out in a barren corn field. Farmers seeding lespedeza and applying top-dressing to small grain. A few farmers wanting to fertilize their pastures, wishing for potash. A new alfalfa producer tickled pink over the early spring growth of his prospective hay crop. A farm woman buying garden seeds, and, of course, some flower seed. Hundreds wanting to know what kind of hybrid corn to plant. Last minute signing of AAA farm plans. Ladino clover pastures looking fine, especially the ones with fescue. A lot of curiosity and interest in the Soil Conservation field day planned for March 26.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Hens Vs. Gardens; Pot Wins

From the Asheville Citizen, April 26, 1943

COLLEGE STATION, Raleigh—Victory gardens have been asking the extension service at N.C. State College for all kinds of information about vegetable growing, including that on bugs, blisters, and blights which attack their crops, but Editor F.H. Jeter was “stumped” today when he received a request on how how to fight—the neighbor’s chickens. There is no publication available on this subject.

The woman explained that her husband and children were anxious for a fine “victory garden” this year as she was, but that past experience showed that their gardening efforts would be in vain unless they could get some help. The minute they started planting, the chickens came over to help with the digging.

She said that she had called the attention of her neighbors to the fact that it is against the law for chickens to run at large and in the adjoining garden, but for some reason her neighbors did not seem to understand.

So in a letter to the extension service, she asks just how far she should go in explaining the law to the chickens, since she had failed so utterly with her neighbors. She said that she felt sure that if the chickens could only understand the law and the serious need for more fresh vegetables, they would remain on their own premises.

Jeter sent her directions for cookery, including the various methods preparing chickens for the table.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Will a Recipe Do? 1943

From the Greensboro News, April 9, 1943

RALEIGH, April 8—(AP)—A gardening question stumped the agricultural extension division of State College today.

The gardener, a woman, wanted to combat the neighbor’s chickens. Editor F.H. Jeter of the extension division’s publications, had to admit he didn’t have a booklet on the subject.
But he sent her a cook book.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mr. Balance and His Pigs Featured in Progressive Farmer, 1943

From the Fairmont Messenger, April 8, 1943

The March issue of The Progressive Farmer carried an article by F.H. Jeter, editor of State College Extension Service, featuring Mr. Cutlar Balance of St. Paul’s Route 2, and a few of the fine pigs on his farm. The article was accompanied by a picture of Mr. Balance and his pigs.

Mr. Balance, Mr. Jeter say, is probably North Carolina’s leading breeder of Poland China hogs. He is President of the State Association of Livestock Mutuals.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dynamiting Ditches Saved Time and Money, 1946

By F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, N.C. State College, Raleigh, as published in the April 1, 1946 issue of the Charlotte News

Because of a shortage of labor, farmers are using dynamite in blowing ditches and they are saving money. Under present conditions, the dynamite gives a much quicker job and results in a saving of money because the blowing of ditches does not take but a fraction of the labor necessary in ditching by hand.

Frank Doggett, new soil conservationist of the Extension Service at State College, says that farmers in the soil conservation districts are substituting dynamite for labor in solving many tough drainage problems.

According to Doggett, District Supervisor R.C. Jordan and County Agent C.W. Overman recently assisted Cotton Bright White of the Albemarle Soil Conservation in blowing 618 feet of ditch at a cost of $96 as compared with the cost of about $400 had the job been done by hand.

The problem was to connect a lead ditch across the Welch tract of land to the main ditch of the Bear Creek Drainage District. First a permit was obtained to open a ditch across the Welch land and the job was begun.

A large spoil bank on the edge of the large main ditch was blasted through. Then holes were sunk along the proposed ditch line and loaded with 50 per cent ditching dynamite. When the workers were ready to shoot the charge, the neighbors were invited to witness and blast and about 60 gathered at a safe distance from the section where the ditch was to be blown.

With one mighty heave, roots, stumps, earth, and water were thrown high into the air and scattered over a wide area. When the spectators went in to see the results, they found a V-shaped ditch about 4 feet deep and wide across the top. The sides sloped at 45-degree angles and there was no need for any hand labor to make corrections. A complete job had been done.

White spent $90 for 500 pounds of dynamite and the cost of putting it down was $6. “Had I done this job with hand labor, I estimate the cost would have been about $400,” White said, “and where could I have gotten the labor to do it? With machinery, the cost would have been somewhat less than by hand.”

Doggett says that White and all of the farmers present were impressed by the fact that the dynamite left no spoil bank along the edge of the ditch to give trouble in the future. Such would have been the case had the ditch been constructed by hand labor.

The soil was scattered over a wide area and now water can drain into the ditch in all sections along the 618 feet. A spoil bank would prevent this.

Howard Ellis, agricultural engineer of the State College Extension Service, calls particular attention to the need for safety in the handling of dynamite because a number of accidents have occurred recently in Eastern North Carolina where most of the dynamite is being used. He suggests that farmers discuss safety measures with the county agent before they begin the use of dynamite in blasting.

Farmers' Income, 1937

From the April 1937 issue of The Nation’s Agriculture

Farmers sold $626 million worth of farm products in January as compared with $550 million in January a year ago, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics has reported.

This 14 per cent gain in income was entirely the result of higher prices and was made despite a 6 per cent decrease in the volume of sales. Prices of farm products averaged 20 per cent higher than in January 1936, with prices of grains, tobacco and potatoes showing the greatest increase. Larger receipts from apples and a number of truck crops also contributed to the month’s gain in income.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Young Winners at Livestock Show in Rocky Mount, 1948

From the April 1948 issue of Extension Farm-News, a newsletter for county agents and specialists of the North Carolina Extension Service

The 1948 series of Fat Stock shows and Sales opened March 31 when the 11th annual Rocky Mount show and sale was held. This year’s event included 43 steers and 208 hogs shown and sold by youths from nine counties.

Douglas Eason of Edgecombe County, exhibitor of the Grand Champion steer in last year’s show, again received top honors this year by exhibiting another Grand Champion. The “champ” sold for 75 cents per pound. The title of reserve champion when to the steer entered by Dalton Proctor of Wilson County.

Top honor in the swine department, the Grand Champion individual, was won by Mack Mills of Pitt County. Mack sold his animal for 75 cents per pound. R.V. Knight of Tarboro exhibited the Reserve Champion individual hog. The Grand Champion pen of three was entered by F.W. Fisher of Battleboro and the Reserve Champion pen by Kenneth Coleman Webb of Macclesfield.

Attending the event form State College were Leland I. Case, Jack Kelley, Jesse James, and J.C. Pierce.

Robeson County Farmers Club, 1946

From the April 4, 1946 issue of the Maxton Citizen

The Robeson County Club was reactivated Thursday night as it met at the armory in Lumberton, and elected 16 directors to serve for the current year.

Frank H. Jeter, agriculture editor of N.C. State College, addressed the club, delivering a very entertaining and enlightening discourse on the prime importance of farming to the development and welfare of North Carolina.
Following the serving of an enjoyable supper by the ladies of Raft Swamp Home Demonstration club, the meeting was called to order by President Adrian B. McRae of Elrod. The invocation was given by W.M. Bethune.

Jasper C. Hutto, secretary of the Lumberton Chamber of Commerce, gave the address of welcome. C.S. Stafford, secretary of the Chamber of Commerce of Fairmont, responded with several humorous remarks.
George T. Ashford of Red Springs, president of the N.C. Ginners Association, spoke briefly on the progress of the campaign urging farmers to plant cotton as a sound part of a well-balanced farming program, and noted the importance of cotton in a well-rounded farming program in Robeson County.

C.E. Morrison of Rowland reported on the corn contest, which is being sponsored by the Robeson County Club. Mr. Morrison explained that prize money given for the contest had already been secured and asked contributions of the County Club members to finance the cost of measuring land and other incidental expenses to the end that the contest be conducted on a very high and impartial plane.

J.A. Sharpe, very active in the formation and development of the Robeson County club, presented the speaker, Mr. Jeter.

In Mr. Jeter’s address, he pointed out that there was no place under the sun where food was as plentiful as in these Untied States, specifically referring to the amount of food left on the tables after the meal Thursday night as an illustration. He reminded the audience that before the next crop is harvested, thousands of people will die the most agonizing of all deaths, slow starvation, because there is simply not enough food in the world today to feed the population. This condition, Mr. Jeter emphasized, was brought about by the failure of men to properly appreciate and work with the forces of nature.

He spoke briefly on the important contributions scientists make to the growing of bigger and better crops, and mentioned that their work resulted in new and better ways to plant crops, spray, treat land, breed animals, and grafting.

Mr. Jeter said that what has “made” North Carolina and Robeson County is what has been “dug out of the land.” Unwisely in some instances, said Mr. Jeter, but never the less coming from the land. Soil, he said, is the basis of wealth.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Using Dynamite on J.P. Matheson's Land, 1935

By Osmond L. Barringer as published in the Charlotte News on April 10, 1946

In the April 1 issue of the Carolina Farmer an article on ditching with dynamite by F.H. Jeter brought to mind the first shot of this kind I made for the late J.P. Matheson on his estate opposite Sugaw Creek Church in the spring of 1935.

In order to straighten the old bed of what is known as Little Sugaw Creek and also to drain a swampy piece of valuable land, he was anxious to have a new channel cut for about 600 feet that would not only carry the usual flow of the creek, but would take care of the spring floods. As I had built a lake and done other landscaping for him, he asked me to look into the cost of this new channel.

All the estimates we could get seemed high and I called his attention to the possibility of doing the work with special ditching dynamite, about which I had read a good deal. We secured 15 cases of dynamite which we thought would be sufficient to do the job. A local blacksmith made us two augers from specifications furnished, and we then laid out the new channel and started to work.

A series of holes from 3 to 4 feet apart and 18 inches apart were sunk and the next morning the sticks of ditching dynamite were inserted and carefully tamped in. Where the ground was sandy, a bucket of water was poured in each hole to increase the density. Two ordinary caps were inserted near the middle and about 10 feet of double fuse run out. After giving the moving picture people time to get set, the fuses were lighted and in a few minutes the blast went off throwing up a cloud of sand, dirt, mud and stones to a height of 60 feet or more, and the entire length of 600 feet looked like a dirty curtain, but in the pictures resembled grove of tall trees more than anything else.

Figuring the common labor and dynamite, without any charge for supervision, the yardage showed a net cost of approximately 5 ½ cents a cubic yard, which at the time was about a fifth of what it would have been with machinery, and the difference would be even greater now.

Another advantage worth calling attention to is the fact that the dirt and debris were thrown over a wide area and there was not spoil bank left to give trouble in the future.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Charles Ford Writes to Person County African-American Farmers, 1943

Letter from Charles J. Ford, Negro County Agent, Person County, to local African-American farmers as published in the Roxboro Courier on April 6, 1943

Your support is enlisted in a $70,000 food production program for Negroes in rural Person County.

There are 1,045 Negro farm operators in Person County. It is not an exaggeration to call this a “Seventy-Thousand Dollar Food Production Program.”

If only one third or 348 of the Negro farm operators increase their food production to the extent of $50 each during the year of 1943, it will represent a $70,000 increase of production wealth in Person County.

There are many ways for Negro farm families to increase their wealth by $50 worth in a year: by growing good gardens, by keeping a cow, by keeping two cows, by canning surplus vegetables, meats and fruits, by keeping more and better poultry and more and better hogs.

This program is intended to reach every Negro in rural Person County, regardless of his status, whether he is a day laborer, a tenant, a small or large farm owner. The two Negro Extension workers cannot accomplish this objective alone. We will need your help, the help of everybody: teachers, ministers, the F.S.A. workers, landlords, Negro and white agricultural workers, and the 156 Negro neighborhood leaders.

Let’s don’t stop at $50 per farm. It wouldn’t be hard for Negro farm families to increase their income by $500 or more if they balance cash crop production with vegetables, poultry, swine and dairy cows, growing enough to eat and a little extra to sell. But above all, let us reach the humblest Negro farmer in the remotest rural community of Person County.

4-H Club Members Helping, Too
To reach the humblest Negro family in the remotest community, 22 4-H Clubs have been organized, an increase of 10 over last year, supplemented by 10 adult Home Demonstration Clubs, nine Bull Associations, an Advisory Adult Agricultural Board and a 4-H County Council.

Food production among club members is distributed as follows:
--346 conducting garden projects.
--199 enrolled in livestock including poultry.
--39 boys planting 1 acre each of certified hybrid corn seed and 85 doing home economics projects, making a total of 669 4-H Club members giving assistance in the “Seventy-Thousand Dollar Food Program.”

If an apple a day will keep the doctor away, “Food in this way will keep Hitler away.”
   --Chas. J. Ford, Negro County Agent

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Importance of Corn in North Carolina, 1945

By F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, N.C. State University, Raleigh, as published in the Wilmington Star, April 2, 1945

It is gratifying to see, at long last, that our agricultural leaders will attempt to do something about the production of corn in North Carolina. We have tried various means of increasing our supply for feed or livestock and poultry. Some have claimed that barley is easier and cheaper to grow than corn and have called it “winter corn”, which is an admission that it is only a substitute. We have stressed pastures, winter and summer grazing crops, hay crops, and all the other kinds of feedstuffs that can be produced on our soils. Year around grazing has been attempted by many farmers following the fine example set by Hugh MacRae on his now famous lime-laden Invershiel Farm near Wilmington.

The truth is that all of these are good and have their respective places of great importance in North Carolina’s farming economy. Every person, owning land, should give these crops and these feed-producing plans the utmost consideration and should adopt those which seem to best fit the needs of his own particular soil and his location.

Yet, as I have claimed in this column many times, we have never given corn production the consideration which it deserves. Corn is nothing but a glorified grass. Down through the years it has been improved and perfected. It has been bred so that its various varieties have become adapted to different uses and it is the backbone of the livestock industry. If one wishes to know about the hog crop of the mid-west, he needs only to know about the corn crop. One reason why there is a shortage of hogs in North Carolina right now is that the OPA placed a ceiling on pork and allowed the price of feed, including corn, to find his own place. Corn influences the production of meat from the smallest frying-sized chicken to the largest beef steer. Apparently, then, we must still consider corn as the backbone of our livestock production.

But, in recent years, we have had much dry weather during the critical period of corn growth in summer. This is one reason why the barley enthusiasts urge that this feed is grown in winter when there is much more moisture. Our acre yields of corn seem to have become fixed at about 22 bushels on acre average for the state. Yet we have definite proven instances of where different men and boys are about over North Carolina are producing 100 and more bushels an acre every season. Some people are skeptical about these large acre yields. I have been so myself, but, I made it to a point to go out and check several of them, watching the corn pulled from the stalks, and seeing it shucked and weighed. After I had witnessed a few such yields and had seen yields of from 100 to 138 bushels of green corn from a measured acre weighed in at the scales, then I knew that is possible to produce the yields about which I had heard. Nor was there anything remarkable about it. Many farmers tell me that it is easy to make 100 bushels [and that] should be an ordinary, every-day sort of yield.

Now that we know about using winter legumes and summer legumes to improve the land and increase its water-holding capacity; we know about good seed and their tremendous importance; we know about shallow cultivation; we know about the use of fertilizer under the corn and the value of nitrogen side applications around the growing crop—there should be no further mystery as to how we might double the acre yield of corn in the next 10 years. In other words, if we would increase our present average yield from 22 to 44 or 50 bushels an acre, there should be no reason why we should not continue as a great livestock state. The late W.W. Shay, practical hog man, used to say that no man who grew less than an average of 35 bushels per acre had any business trying to grow and finish hogs for the market. If he could not produce as much as 35 bushels of corn an acre, he would fail as a hog grower, or he would become an “in and outer” depending upon the price of pork as compared with the p rice he could afford to play his neighbors for his surplus corn. Mr. Shay set the lowest profitable yield of corn for livestock at 35 bushels an acre and he was wise beyond his day.

Any man who tries to farm and have livestock should look after his corn supply. He ought to be able to feed corn to every animal and chicken on the place. Most of us grudgingly count out a few ears and nubbins of our workstock and feel that we have really “done something” when we give the hardworking mules an extra ear. 

We ought to be able to shovel it out to our hogs, to mix it in feed for our cows, to crush it for our beef steers, to crack it for our chickens, and to have ample for cornbread and grits on our own table. The way to do this is to use our own commonsense and grow it as we know how to do. Make it a crop of importance. Use more nitrogen and get seed of some of the adapted hybrids. These hybrids have strong root systems and will withstand the effects of dry weather. Not all of them are adapted to our conditions, however, and rather than use one that is not, it is better to use a local, standard, named variety with which we are familiar.

There is a definite need for more corn. The need is particularly vital this year. Dr. James H. Hilton, native North Carolina from Catawba County, who recently returned from Purdue University in Indiana to head the animal industry division at State College, says that we shall produce feed more abundantly or we shall go out of the livestock business. To do this would be a calamity. We have come too far to retreat and we should have learned through bitter experience that we cannot depend on crops alone. We need to keep the livestock that we have and to develop it further on a sound and sensible basis. Such a basis has its foundation in the production of ample feed at home.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Mr. Jeter Visits Colin Spencer, Leading N.C. Timber Man, 1946

By F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, N.C. State College, Raleigh, as published in the Wilmington Morning Star on April 22, 1946

An easy way to make a living is to obtain 6,000 acres of land, let the pine trees produce 300 board feet an acre each year and then sell the timber as it matures! That probably is not so easy as it seems. Down in Carthage, Moore County, lives a man who knows all about this and whose whole life has been devoted to timber. Many years ago his grandfather owned Shepherd’s Mountain in Randolph County and cut timber from all that area.

This grandfather built seven dams on Caraway River, in the Uwharrie’s, and used the resulting water power to run his sawmills. His grandson followed in the patriarch’s footsteps. But first he took a course in agriculture at State College, managed Lake Latham Farm at Mebane, and the Crammerton Farm, before located in Carthage in 1916.

Buys Tract
Last week, he bought the 1,200-acre tract of land which he was hired to cut back in 1916 and he added it to his holdings to make the 6,500 acres total that he now owns. This original tract, which was the first timber that Colin Spencer was ever cut, has been lumbered three times since 1916.

That year Mr. Spencer cut about 8 million feet of timber in Moore and the three adjacent counties. At one time, Mr. Spencer operated milling plants at Carthage, Hemp or Robbins, Glendon,and Bennett. He operates only one plant today, the main one at his headquarters in Carthage, and he says the black market in timber is about to close that one temporarily.

Replants Trees
After cutting timber for about eight years on leased land, Colin Spencer began to see the wisdom of replanting trees and of using his own sound commonsense in timber harvesting. Therefore, in 1922 he began to buy his own land. Today he owns about 6,500 acres, mostly in timber tracts, running along the fertile bottomlands of Moore County streams.

Although most of his land is used to grow timber, the lumberman also possesses that inherent love of farming that is present in all of us, and so he operates about six farms. One is a livestock or cattle farm, and all six of them produce tobacco and general crops. He showed me, with great pride, his cattle farm with his excellent seeded pasture on which 21 head of purebred Hereford cattle were finding a good living.

Trotting Mare
Then he turned out his Tennessee trotting mare or walking horse with as fine a highheaded, long-legged young colt as I ever saw. This mare also had a young filly in the adjoining stable. Mr. Spencer owns a purebred Percheron draft mare that had a beautiful colt about one week old. Another mare brought down from is mountain farm and now too old to work is being used as a brood animal to produce replacement workstock.

The regular commercial herd of Herefords were out on a swamp pasture and Mr. Spencer selects and sends some of his best beef animals to his mountain farm each summer where they fatten on bluegrass for a discriminating market. The commercial herd in Moore County furnishes a double purpose because they clip the young hardwoods and undergrowth where pine seedlings are set, as well as furnish beef for market.

Wooded Acres
I visited some of the wooded areas where Mr. Spencer began to set pine seedlings back in 1916. He plows a deep furrow through the forest floor, and the seedling trees are set along this furrow. This allows moisture to settle in the furrow and for mulch to accumulate there to keep his soil fertile and moist. He has one tract, for instance, where he cut out all the hardwoods, except the white oak, to provide fuel wood for an orchid farm near Pinehurst. This orchid farm does not use coal because the soot seeps through into the delicate plants and so it uses hardwood for fuel.

Loblolly Pines
After removing all the hardwoods from this area, the tract was set in loblolly pine, and while some expert foresters said the plan wouldn’t work, it does seem to work because the young pine trees are right there now, growing lustily, under the white oaks that are with the dogwoods. By the way, Mr. Spender sells his dogwood and persimmon timber to textile mills to be made into bobbins for use in the weaving machinery. The white oaks will be harvested later for sale as cross ties.

Colin Spencer never clean cuts an area unless the trees are not making satisfactory growth and he measures growth with the eye of an expert. He also, sometimes, clean-cuts by gradually taking out the mature timber as fast as it grows into log size, leaving seed trees, and then when the whole area has been completely restocked with young stuff, he goes in and gets out all of the mature timber.

Re-Seeding Mixture
The lumberman uses a mixture of re-seeding and re-setting in propagating or renewing his timber areas and he never takes out all the timber in a given tract, unless as I said, he has seen to it that the area has been plentifully replenished. He also is constantly alert to prevent forest fires and there are fire control lanes all through his woods.

He showed me towering young trees over which he shot quail just a few years ago.

“Lumbering is no wishy-washy job,” he said. “It takes a long-time program in which you have to wait for the trees. The price of timber goes up and down but it never goes down so low as it was the last time. My father sold pure heart pine at $6 a thousand to be used in the old plank road running through what is now the main street of Carthage from Fayetteville to Winston-Salem. That same timber now sells for $125 thousand if you can get it.”

In Forestry Work
This progressive lumberman was drafted into public service back in 1939 when he was elected president of the North Carolina Forestry Association. He agreed to take this responsibility if the Association would put on an educational program and try to teach North Carolina landowners the importance of their timber crops. 

Then he was re-elected for three times before the members would agree for him to relinquish the job.
During that three-year period, he did much to sell the state on the importance of its lumbering industry. He is still chairman of the board of directors. He is also president of the North Carolina Forest Foundation, which holds the great Hofmann Forest in eastern Carolina in trust for the Forestry School at State College. Mr. Spencer is a director of the American Forestry Association and on the important Committee of National Parks for this association. He maintains his home in Carthage but most of his waking hours are out in the woods or at his lumber plant.

Bought Pulpwood
During the war, he has been buying pulpwood in the area between Raleigh and Hamlet for one of the large paper companies and he still buys timber and pulpwood, of course, on his own account.

Mainly, however, his interests are in the acres of trees, young and old, now growing on his holdings in Moore County. He knows each tract just as you would know your own garden, and he knows when one area of either 400 or 1,000 acres is ready for harvest, just as the tobacco grower knows when to prime his plants.
He also knows the various varieties of trees, and he kept me completely bewildered the other afternoon as he pointed out to me and “Red” Garrison, Moore farm agent, the several kinds of pines, the unnumbered varieties of hardwoods, and the characteristics of each. It was a lesson in woodscraft that I shall not soon forget and should you have a chance to take a trip with him to his woods at any time, do not turn down the opportunity. It’s an education in itself.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

David Coker Was a Dreamer, Scientist & Businessman, 1943

By F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, N.C. State University, Raleigh, as published in the Charlotte Observer and in the Wadesboro Messenger, April 29, 1943

The late David R. Coker of Hartsville was a dreamer as well as a scientist and a business man. Such a combination of talent in one person is a great rarity. Mr. Coker dreamed into existence one of the great seed producing centers in the South and, with his capable associates, did much to improve the yields and quality of crops grown in the South. If the results of his dreaming paid him dividends, more honor to him because that is the traditional American way.

But while he was a great dreamer, he was at the very same time so very practical that he could adapt the results of his dreams to everyday life. I liked that about him most of all. I recall back in the days of the depression when agricultural leaders were calling upon the people of the land to “live-at-home,” to grow more food at home, to assure themselves of a food supply first of all, I heard the clear call from Mr. Coker to grow more sweet potatoes.

His appeal was not couched in high-sounding phrases. He simply said that every cotton farmer would wo will to put in a patch of sweet potatoes and called attention to the food value of the roots. He didn’t say anything about their vitamin content because vitamins were relatively new at that time. But Mr. Coker knew from practical experience that sweet potatoes supplied some of the best food we could get at the lowest price per pound and that the crop is about as easy to grow as any other produced in the South. I recall even today some 15 years later, how he pointed out that the lowliest tenant on the most obscure farm knew how to grow sweet potatoes and Mr. Coker gave some indication of the yield that might be expected from a small patch of one-fourth of an acre.

That was one practical way of assuaging the hunger pangs of the depression era and unless I am mightily mistaken, Mr. Coker would again champion the sweet potato if he were alive today. In the first place, there is a ready sale for all produced above home needs. In the second place, the sweets are selling at good prices particularly where they are of good quality, free of disease, and properly cured.

In the third place, if the sweets are not needed at home and cannot be sold profitably, they make the best kind of livestock feed; and, since more meat is so badly needed over the nation, perhaps this is but another way of producing some of that meat. For these three reasons alone, therefore, this column makes bold to preach a little about growing a food supply and more especially about adding sweet potatoes to the list of food crops. I think every farm in the Carolinas should have at least one-fourth of an acre of sweets set out this summer, and it were better if an acre or more were planted per farm.

The Nancy Hall is one of the tested old varieties that everyone used to eat. Now we have gone more to Porto Rico variety with the Louisiana strain and the North Carolina Strain No. 1 enjoying greatest popularity. These three kinds have proved superior to all other varieties in this section and if a person cannot grow his own slips this season, he should buy at least 3,100 certified slips from some accredited plant grower. It will take 3,100 slips to set one-fourth of an acre when the plants are placed 12 inches apart in rows 3 ½ feet apart.

Sweet potatoes seem to do best on a sandy or sandy loam soil that is not too fertile. In other words, if the garden spot is very rich or is of the dark or heavy soil, it is not a good place for the sweets. They will be more subject to diseases in such a place. However, rather than not have any potatoes at all, plant them wherever space may be available.

Prof. M.E. Gardner, horticulturist of the North Carolina Experiment Station, says sweet potatoes are just coming into their own. He foresees a day right soon when pigs and other livestock will be eating shoe-string potatoes as a regular part of their diet. Chickens will enjoy a ration of sweet potato meal from dehydrated or dried potatoes and sows will enjoy succulent silage made from the vines and the tubers cut up together and forced into the silo. The dried potatoes fed to poultry and hogs allow a full use of all the big jumbos and the little strings. The tobacco barn may be used for the curing or the more elaborate sweet potato curing house. At any rate, the dried sweets will permit easier and longer storage. This dehydrated product also gives the livestock and poultry a more concentrated ration tan when the sweets are dug fresh from the field, cut up and fed. As a matter of fact, Mr. Gardner says tests made with selected logs of pigs by the Experiment Station show that the sweets can replace corn. Most folks can grow more sweet potatoes on an acre of land than they can corn.

About the vines, Mr. Gardner says, “Thousands of tons of sweet potato vines are wasted in eastern North Carolina each year. Some growers harvest before frost but a large majority of vines are frosted before harvest and rendered useless for feed. Thus a highly nutritious and vitamin-rich feed source is lost. We have been conducting tests since 1941 to determine the value of the sweet potato vines and roots when fed to dairy cattle. We cannot give definite results with only one year of testing but our results indicate that milk flow, body weight, and general condition of the cows were as good as when fed corn silage.” He added that sweet potato silage is also rich in carotene or vitamin A. It looks, therefore, as if those who have been joking about this great staple food of the South might have the laugh on them, and that, after all, the Southern farmer knows what he is about. If he is wise, he will grow still more sweet potatoes this year.

For more information on David R. Coker, see

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

'Things I Remember About Growing Up' by Sam Eanes

“Things I Remember About Growing Up” by Sam Eanes, as published in the Lexington Dispatch, Nov. 7, 1970

There was a time when traveling near and far intrigued me no end. I’d go anywhere with almost anybody at the slightest invitation. By the time I reached the tender age of 20, I had traveled to some 35 states and three foreign countries, Cuba, Mexico, and Canada.

My dear friend, the late Dick Cecil, was my very best traveling buddy. With a couple of “sawbucks” in our jeans, one suitcase, and two good thumbs, we’d light out for parts and places unknown. We ate light, slept in the woods, in barns, in boxcars, and occasionally in bed (when free). When we became a burden on our friends and wore out our welcome, we’d travel on.

When we were broke (which was most of the time) we’d take odd jobs and work awhile (a very short while). After having attended three military schools, there were not many towns or cities on the eastern seaboard that didn’t contain an old school chum. In most cases they were my friends and took us in.

One we had been down to Nachez, Mississippi, which as you know is located on the Mississippi River and is quite famous in tradition and southern history. Many of the original homes, inns, and landmarks remain intact, just as they were a hundred years ago. Our visit there was a very pleasant one.  We were wined and dined in true deep-south fashion.

We met and dated some pretty southern Mississippi girls, and being rather liberal with our bankrolls, we soon found ourselves without same.

By now we were on our way up to Memphis. By the time we reached Greenwood, Miss., we were flat broke. Somewhat tired, hungry, and disenchanted with the state of Mississippi, we had traveled through an area that had suffered their worst drought in history. Some of the people wouldn’t even give us a drink of water.

Luckily, we met a man who gave us a contract to dig a hole in the ground 8 by 12 by 12 in which he could put an underground gasoline tank. We were to receive $30, $15 after completing the first day’s work. After staking off the area for the hole, with picks and shovels we began to dig. The ground was soft and we made good progress. The man was pleased and he paid us the $15.

On our way in to Greenwood, we noticed a real nice boarding house with a sign out front reading room and board, $1 per day, $6 per week, and no breakfast on Sunday morning. We made a beeline to the boarding house, paid three days in advance, took a much-needed bath, ate a hearty supper, and then went out on the town. That’s another story.

By 7 a.m. the next day we were digging away. Suddenly we struck solid rock just a little over six feet deep. We called the man via telephone and he arrived and took a look. “Well, boys,” he said, “you’ll just have to dig it out.”

“With picks and shovels?” I asked.

“Either that or you’ll get no more pay.

With that he drove away and Dick and I went back to digging. But not for long. After several hours of futile work, we gave it up.

We had made several acquaintances the previous night. After supper we went up town and explained to our new-found friends our predicament. In the early hours after midnight we came up on a solution. With our friends’ help, we shoveled all the dirt back in the hole and took off to a nearby town where we bade our friends goodbye. I’ve often wondered how that man felt the next day.

As I said in starting this article, at one time traveling was “my thing.” As of this moment, however, I even dread driving up town. A recent trip to Maryland not only tired me out, it helped to bring on the gout.
Refreshments and Chesapeake Bay seafood didn’t even help to prevent the gout. Specially those delicious steamed Maryland crabs. They get sorta messy after the first dozen or so.

Monday, April 9, 2012

North Carolinians Have More Milk Cows, 1944

From the April 1948 issue of Extension Farm-News, a monthly newsletter sent from N.C. State College to state Extension Service employees

A recent report by the Bureau of the Census shows that the number of milk cows in North Carolina increased by 33,515 from 1930 to 1944. This is an 11 per cent increase. Gallons of milk produced increased from 143 to 161 million, or 12.6 per cent, indicating production per cow increased as well as cow numbers.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

State Supreme Court Ruled in Favor of Kinston Area Farmer, 1924

By Robert E. Lee for the N.C. Bar Association, as published in the Lexington Dispatch in 1924

N.J. Rouse owned a farm about two miles from the city limits of Kinston. He sunk artesian wells on his land, which produced an abundant supply of pure and wholesome water. The water was used by a herd of dairy cattle, and the land became adaptable for irrigation.

The City of Kinston subsequently sank three 10-inch wells on a half acre of land acquired from an adjacent  landowner. The water was piped into Kinston and there sold to its inhabitants.

As a result of the wells being sunk on adjacent land, the wells on the land of Rouse practically ceased to flow. The value of his farm greatly dropped. Was Rouse able to recover from the City of Kinston a judgment for damages?

This was an actual case decided by the Supreme Court of North Carolina in 1924. It became a leading case dealing with underground percolating waters, establishing a rule contrary to that previously existing at common law.

Percolating waters are those that ooze, seep, or filter through the soil beneath the surface, without a defined channel, or in a course that is unknown and not discoverable from surface indications without excavation for that purpose. Underground water is presumed to be percolating water.

Under the old common-law rule, percolating waters were a part of the soul where found and, as a consequence, belonged absolutely to the owner of the land. Under this rule, the landowner was not accountable in damages to others for the taking of any or all of such water.

The North Carolina Supreme Court adopted in the case of Rouse v. City of Kinston, as has been done by courts of other states in recent years, the doctrine of “reasonable use” of percolating waters.

This rule does not prevent the private use by any landowner of percolating waters under his land for manufacturing, agriculture, irrigation, or otherwise; but it does prevent the withdrawal of underground waters for distribution or sale, for uses not connected with any beneficial ownership of the land from which they were taken, if it thereby follows that the owner of adjacent lands is interfered with in his right to the reasonable use of water under the surface of his own land.

Rouse recovered in damages $9,000 from the City of Kinston. It made an unreasonable use of the percolating waters under its own one-half acre of land. The taking of great quantities of water and selling it to the inhabitants of the City of Kinston was an unreasonable interference with the water rights of an adjoining landowner.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

United States Employment Bureau to Help Farmers Find Workers, 1916

From the April 1916 issue of The Southern Planter

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has in Washington a Division of Labor in successful operation with branches established in different sections of the country. This employment bureau, for such it is, invites employers and employees to make free use of its office for which no charge is made for any service rendered.

One of the main features of the work of this Bureau is furnishing laborers for farmers whenever and wherever needed.

All persons, male or female, who want jobs, work of any description, as well as employers, should lose no time in communicating with the branch office for their territory.

Applicants living in Virginia or North Carolina should address Distribution Branch Immigration Service, 119 W. Main St., Norfolk, Va. For Maryland the office is in the Steward Building, Baltimore, Md.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Jeter Uses New Technology to Address Meeting, 1948

From the April 1948 issue of Extension Farm-News, a monthly newsletter sent from N.C. State College to state Extension Service employees

Frank H. Jeter made a very interesting talk to those attending the State Home Demonstration Leaders Workshop at Purdue University in March, according to reports from those attending.

While the host of home agents heard Mr. Jeter speak, he was busy working away at his office at Raleigh. His speech at the Purdue convention was made by means of a new informational technique, a tape voice recording. And while his speech was being transcribed to the group, his picture was flashed on a screen before them.

Mr. Jeter was one of six Extension editors in the country chosen to take part in this new informational idea by Lester A. Schlup.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Helping Former Enemies Recover, 1948

From the April 1948 issue of Extension Farm-News, a monthly newsletter sent from N.C. State College to state Extension Service employees

Dr. Ralph W. Cummings, associate director of the Agricultural Experiment Station at State College, is now in Europe after being named by the Department of National Defense to conduct a five-week study of fertilizers as related to food production in the occupied areas of Germany and other European countries.

The State College scientist is being aided on the study by Dr. K.D. Jacob, head of the division of fertilizers and agricultural lime of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Dr. Cummings said the main work of the group will be centered in the American and British zones of occupation in Germany, but he reported that studies may also be made in Austria, France, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark.

Chief objectives of the study, Dr. Cummings stated, are to make an appraisal of fertilizer manufacturing facilities and conditions and to determine the approximate need for plant nutrients. The government hopes to step up food production in the occupied territory, and fertilizer production is one of the fundamental steps toward a hike in food growing, he asserted.

The German areas are “far from self-sufficient” in food growth, and federal authorities are anxious to take remedial measures for expanded output, Dr. Cummings explained.

Following the conclusions of the German study, Dr. Cummings will submit a report of his findings to the Department of the Army. He is expected to return to Raleigh the latter part of April.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Successful New NC Farm Crops: Sweet Potatoes and Peanuts, 1944

By F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, N.C. State University, Raleigh, as published in the Wilmington Star, April 17, 1944

One good result coming to North Carolina agriculture out of this war is that the people of the Sandhills have found two new crops. Last season, when the late cold killed most of the peach crop in that section, some of the orchardist turned to peanuts and sweet potatoes. They learned about the two crops because they had been urged to grow them as a war measure. The two crops did well on the deep sandy soils and, according to reports by good farmers, they are three to stay. One man went so far as to say that his sweet potato crop paid him better than did his tobacco. That’s saying a lot, because tobacco is recognized as the state’s No. 1 money crop. It was the crop that kept us going during the depression and it is the crop that will be planted 100 per cent of its farm allotment in 1944, whether food crops are planted or not. Many hardheaded Carolina farmers say that they intend to plant their full acreages to tobacco this season but they doubt seriously that full acreages of other crops can be planted due to a lack of labor.

The peanut crop, like tobacco, is troublesome to raise, to harvest and to market but its product is badly needed in our war economy and it is to be hoped that Sandhill growers plant more this season. Reports indicate that the peach crop has been ruined again. This condition may be spotted but it is a fact that the peaches that the great bloom of the early spring indicated.

Oil crops are needed bad. I have heard it said that peanut oil is used by the boys in the airplanes to cook up a little food while making long, lonesome trips over middle Europe or over the unchartered seas of the Southwest Pacific. Peanut oil burns with little smoke and residue. It is also used for many other purposes and is in great demand. The state goal cannot be reached unless new growers make increased planting sand some interesting tests have been conducted by farmers in Cumberland, Hoke, Scotland, and Moore counties. Much of this research was done in Sandhill territory and will be of value to all owners of sandy lands. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Stantonsburg Teacher's Letter of Thanks, 1948

From the April 1948 issue of Extension Farm-News, a monthly newsletter sent from N.C. State College to state Extension Service employees

Stantonsburg, N.C.
March 24, 1948

Mr. J.N. Honeycutt
Assistant County Agent
Wilson, N.C.

Dear Mr. Honeycutt,
   This is a thank you note. You have done so many fine things that deserve thanks I hardly know which to thank you for first.

   I have learned only recently that you prepared that fine news paper article last fall about the corn produced in this area by some of the FFA boys. It was very unselfish of you to give credit to an organization other than the one to which you owe primary allegiance. Such devotion to the cause of helping our young men on the farm, without too much regards for credit is a wholesome attitude that needs multiplying.

    Also, I have heard many fine remarks about the good work you have been doing with the young people’s group at Evansdale. You, in cooperation with Mr. Golston, have laid the foundation for a community project that is worthy of duplication. Your constant spirit of cooperation in the promotion of the rural welfare will undoubtedly make its permanent mark on the people of this area.

    It is very unusual for me to write a letter like this but I have been thinking for a long time about the good work you are doing and fine spirit with which you do it. Probably, I should thank Mr. Anthony, too, because I imagine his philosophy has had its influence on your program.

    With kindest regards, I remain
      Yours very truly,
      W.M. Ginn
      Teacher of Agriculture

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Victory Gardens Become Freedom Gardens, 1948

From the April 1948 issue of Extension Farm-News, a monthly newsletter sent from N.C. State College to state Extension Service employees

Home gardeners of the nation are being asked to help make 1948 the biggest food production year in history, says H.R. Niswonger, Horticulture Extension specialist at State College. Twenty million Freedom Gardens is the goal for 1948.

With so much of the world suffering from hunger and malnutrition, and with the productive facilities of war-ravaged lands only partially restored, Americans are being asked again to share their relative abundance of foods with less fortunate people abroad.

The problem, now, however, he continued, is without precedent. The demands are so great the only by using our productive resources to the utmost can we hope to help the starving abroad meet their very minimum nutritional requirements, and at the same time continue to enjoy our present high standard of living at home.

During the war years, “Victory Gardeners” tilling over 18,000,000 gardens each year, supplemented our national food supplies to the extent of many millions of tons, thus making a material contribution toward winning the war, the horticulture specialist stated. More fresh vegetables and fruits were made available to homefront civilians and housewives were enabled to preserve for winter use billions of quarts of home-grown produce. More commercially produced foods were then made available to our troops and our allies. This year, Mr. Niswonger said, gardeners can again help by adding to our total national food supply.