Farm Technological Progress, 1938-1958

This time period would have been my Grandparents era.

I distinctly remember my maternal Grandmother telling me how her and my Grandfather both picked cotton by hand down South when they were young.

They were both raised during the Great Depression.

They had a garden every year and every year my Grandmother would can vegetables, fruits, meats and even Salmon like a fiend all Summer long. She made her own Tomato juice, Sauerkraut, relish,”Dilly Beans” and all sorts of other food stuffs. I went with them more than once when they drove 90 miles one way to get a car load of fruits and vegetables over in the Winston Oregon area that were not available locally and they could not grow themselves, just to take home and can up. I can remember shelling peas and snapping beans on the front porch with my Mom, helping out

My Grandfather eventually walled in his garage and put shelves all the way around it just to hold it all.

I can absolutely guarantee you that he would have not only recognized every piece of equipment and vehicle in this video, he probably used them or repaired them at one time, including the horse drawn equipment.

These are very unique home films from one family in Minnesota throughout this time period, filmed on 8mm film.  Something else my Grandfather used to do.

It is amazing to watch just how fast the technology changed in just twenty years.

This Youtube was first posted in 2008.


Now compare that to the Mega farms they have now and the half million dollar Combines that don’t even require an operator anymore. They are self driving and use the GPS system and computers to be able to maximize the amount of ground they can cover and can run all day and all night, stopping only for fuel.

Sometimes technology can be a double edged sword.

What do you figure the percentage of people in this country alone would be who could actually go out and work a hundred acre farm these days?

.05%, maybe?

To be honest I think that is a wildly optimistic number.

11 thoughts on “Farm Technological Progress, 1938-1958

  1. Dad was born in ’34. He told me a story about the first tractor my grandfather owned. He’d gotten to the turn-row, stood up on the footpads, pulled on the steering wheel and yelled out “whoa!!!”…..

    We always had a garden, and canning with mom was not optional. Making chow-chow, peas, fruit syrup, pickles, squash. My dream was to have a 50 acre farm to work. I’d still love to try and make it happen, but with the influx of shale oil money that isn’t likely down in south Texas.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. On my uncle’s farm in Central Georgia they were still picking cotton by hand in the 50’s and maybe early 60’s. The tenants, men, women and maybe older children, were out there picking. When they filled a sack, they’d bring it to my uncle’s pickup where it would be weighed. I don’t remember if they were paid then or later. I imagine they usually had a negative balance on the books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My own white mother picked crops as a teen back in the 50s
      for a little spending money. It was not uncommon back then.
      We are told that we need illegal aliens because they will do
      the jobs Americans won’t do.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Life was harder these days. But there was also much fun in the evenings and on weekends.
    When I was about nine years old, my grandmother took me with her on a summer vacation onto a secluded farm.
    That farmer still used horses instead of machinery and he had many farmhands doing their chores. In the evenings we sat around a big table in the living room. Besides every chair there was a big bag full of freshly harvested poppyseed capsules and everyone had a bowl at the table in which held the poppyseeds we got from the cracked open capsules. When filled up the bowls where poured into a huge bowl right in the center of that table. There we sat together, chatting, telling stories and having a good time while the farmer’s wife prepared some tasty dinner.
    There was no running water – we had to draw it with buckets from a well.
    There was no water toilet but an outhouse with two holes side by side 😀 – no real toilet paper but torn up newspaper (the only reason for having newspaper actually).
    Every morning when we woke up, there was a milk can at the door containing cow-warm milk.
    I could go on and on – but I believe you get the point.
    One thing is certain though:
    youngsters haven’t had time for feeling bored – no time for stupid things. They wedded early and founded real families.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I recently saw a map of the US that showed the extent of photosynthesis from
    just the corn crops in America. The conversion chart in red is said to show that
    more O2 is produced from this one crop, is greater than the entire Amazon
    Rainforest. In one of her books, Dr. Dixie Lee Ray was debunking the idea
    of “old-growth forests.” Just like young animals (that includes us,) have a
    higher metabolic rate than the old, and the same goes for plants. Without
    renewable food crops and trees, we would have more CO2. Thank the
    farmers and loggers for doing more than their fair share of mitigating CO2.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. My dad starting farming with horses, then graduated to tractors. Never had anything to do with horses after that, even with kids wanting a horse to ride.
    Read somewhere that a farm slave from the Roman Empire could be dropped onto a 19th Century farm and start helping right away, while a 19th Century farm hand could be dropped onto a late 20th Century farm – and be totally lost.
    I can believe it.


  6. I remember those days. All day stacking bales of hay in a wagon, and then in the barn. When you got done with a day’s work, you felt like you had actually accomplished something. And you had. I still love all those old tractors and other machinery. A part of America that no longer exists, for the most part, and I am sorry most of today’s younger people will never experience that life.
    It was truly wonderful. Hard, dusty, sweaty, but in the end, great! Allis-Chalmers forever!


  7. My parents lived in a small town, but my mother canned everything she could, including fruits and vegetables, mushrooms we got in the woods, all sorts of pickled veggies, including asparagus, home made salsa, etc.
    I am 59, and also remember sitting outside, snipping beans, shucking corn, etc. for hours under the trees. And fishing in our river in the fall for salmon, which we froze. We would go and usually bring home one or two a day, after school. They weighed anywhere from 15-20 pounds.
    I started working at age 11, babysitting. I had already been working at home, of course. At age 14, I worked for 50 cents an hour in the restaurant that my parents eventually bought washing dishes. Plus worked on a farm when it was hay hauling time, and some other farm work as it came. Then I got a job in a cannery at age 16, the only job that I ever quit. I hated it, and quit and got a job pumping gas, for the next 2 years, until graduation.
    Back then, young men, and often young ladies, in high school, worked at some type of job, to earn money for spending and to help buy school clothes, etc. I had a friend who worked on the local garbage truck. People thought it was a rotten job, but he made at least twice as much money as anyone else, and often found things that people threw out that he could either use or sell.
    My older 3 kids all had good work ethics, my youngest two, who we adopted, not quite so much. I don’t understand it, but I guess it is just the way of the world. I know that I miss the old days, and my parents. My mom worked in the restaurant, after they sold it, and she had lung cancer, until 2 months before she passed away at the age of 79. And she had canned a bunch of things the previous fall.


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