“The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land”
– Abraham Lincoln
In the 1880’s homesteaders were brought by rail to settle Dakota, fed by developers stories of plentiful rains and deep rich topsoil. As the population swelled the topsoil was turned and for a number of years the rain fell. Unfortunately Dakota surrenders it’s bounty on its own timetable and within a few years the reality of the average rainfall allowing for a successful harvest only two thirds of the time hit home with many.
Even on the occasions of a successful harvest the homesteaders had to contend with the rise and fall of the grain markets. The boom/bust cycle of Dakota played havoc on families and the population of the area rose and fell with favorable conditions.
– Clarence Holm
Grey blue skies can suffer all
If the summer rains don’t fall
Hope and dreams come to naught
If the moisture can’t be brought
Too hot for a cloud in the sky
Just another rain deprived sigh
Dust devils dancing on the fallow field
Soil too dry to expect a yield
Patient hawks fly high in circles
Riding on the rising thermals
Gazing at the bleak tableau
Seeking gentle sustenance below
The ministers cast up their voices,
Hoping to guide the lord’s choices.
People pray the drought is easing,
Allowing time for bank appeasing.
Strong men think the farm is done,
Hard men break and seek a gun.
Widow’s lives must carry on
Even though their husbands gone.
Life in Dakota was rarely sweet,
But some it seems grew some wheat.
Of those that failed they simply left
Foregoing returns and dreams bereft.