Family Farm: Plague of Grasshoppers in the 1930s

A Nebraska woman recalls the swarms of grasshoppers that came up out of the south in the 1930s

| Good Old Days

Summer months in the 1930s meant hot, dry temperatures. My parents and I lived on a 100-acre family farm in eastern Nebraska.

Clouds of huge, two- and three-inch yellow-striped grass-hoppers were arriving daily as they flew in from the southern states, where they had already consumed available crops. They were settling in on local pastures and fields to feast.

Feed stores quickly stocked up on ingredients for a poison that had to be mixed fresh each morning to be used by farmers. It would stick onto the dewy crops, pasture grass or edges of hay fields when used this way.

At 7 years of age, I was dressed to help, wearing overalls, a long-sleeved shirt and a large-brimmed straw hat securely tied under my chin.

Dad's team of horses, Tom and Jerry, was hitched to our farm wagon and away we drove out to the fields, with the poisoned mixture that smelled like bran and banana oil. On our arrival down a dusty lane, Dad used a shovel to toss the mixture onto the edges of our pasture, the end cornrows and hayfields. This procedure was repeated several times a week.

As the horses slowly pulled the wagon in the designated areas, swarms of grasshoppers would cling onto clothing and spit a liquid like tobacco juice, making me scream.

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