Welcome back to our wonderful exclusive translation today! We are still in Arizona with our Czech immigrants and following along on their “Quarter of a Century of Farming in Arizona”.
This translation is from the pages of the 1934 edition of the exceptional Czech-American annual journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář!
We know you will enjoy today’s work as it is another unique look at the lives and times of early Czech settlers in the United States, this time in Arizona!
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Volume: LVII, Year: 1934, Pages: 187-213
FROM THE MEMORIES OF OLD CZECH SETTLERS IN AMERICA
Translated by Layne Pierce and Dr. Mila Saskova-Pierce
©Onward To Our Past®
“A Quarter of a Century of Farming in Arizona”
For Kalendář Amerikán by Frank Halas
“In January the wheat and alfalfa had to be grown and then the cattle were allowed to go into the pasture for feeding for at least a month. Only then was there intense irrigation. Since in this region the humidity does not disappear very quickly, such irrigation is sufficient during the winter for a month. Then the warm nights come and after that everything starts to grow fast. The first hay is either cut in April, or it is allowed to be a pasture, but then one allows it already to fall into seed. The wheat is short and it’s only hydrating, and then it is thrashed in place. That is also the time when hot weather comes, so immediately after the thrashing one has to irrigate so that the alfalfa can grow again, at least for two cuttings.
Whenever there is not enough water the alfalfa is left without cutting, for seed. It is cut only in September when it is dried in small stacks. It is collected in a high mound and it is thrashed only around the November planting. As long as there was irrigation it was good, because the field stayed clean and without weeds for a long time. When, however, the war came, they planted cotton and they irrigated with water from the reservoirs or from pumps; then the changes came.
The fields were without any fertilizer and the cotton price went down. With the water from the reservoir a lot of seeds from different weeds came into the fields. That was large scale farming; however, there were also smaller farmers on plots of 20 to 160 acres where they alternated the planting, for example, with melons and pumpkins. That is now abandoned and there are vegetables planted by machines such as lettuce and celery that can be more easily sent far away onto the market; so the fields pay for themselves better and they can stay fallow until the end of the year. And so all the work stops and the farmer and worker are without work. The harvest is barely enough to pay for its production. An enterprising farmer, however, does not have to stay with such a type of farming, because there are other technological methods of farming that, of course, however, require not only money, but also more knowledge.
My brother, by the time he paid off the land and he had all his ten acres prepared for all kinds of opportunities, tried to grow sugar cane and boil molasses out of it immediately. The field had to be measured, and disc harrowed, so that one horse could plow after each irrigation. That has to be done in July and in August. The sugar cane is best planted by a manual machine. In September and October it has to be irrigated three times altogether so that the water only trickles in between the rows, and it cannot be standing. As the sugar cane is growing, the lower leaves are cut off as needed, so that only the main stalk would grow and mainly strengthen, otherwise in the plowed soil it would grow only like a twig broom, which would not be profitable. During the winter then it is necessary for the frost to burn it a little bit, because the quality of the molasses and also the harvest depend on it.”
Tomorrow our story in Arizona continues! Will the Czechs continue to try and raise sugar cane and boil molasses or will they move on to other crops?
Onward To Our Past®