Williamson County
Historical Commission

 

 

Farming and Ranching    

Farmers broke the sod and planted row crops; ranchers herded livestock. Farmers dominated the area east of Georgetown, ranchers to the west. In both areas, "there was always something to do."

 

Narratives from the Georgetown's Yesteryears Book
A special thanks to The Georgetown Heritage Society and Martha Mitten Allen for letting the us post these wonderful first person stories.
see Foreword and Preface

 

FROM ONE ROW TO MANY

 

Emil Ischy - Gregory S. Brown, Interviewer

When I started farming, the first several years after we married [in 1924], we had to farm with mules and single row equipment, just plow one row at a time. Then, I bought a two-row outfit, after I got going a little. Plowed two rows at a time. Man, we were flying then. When you worked with a single row, you could work all day just as hard as you could and you maybe go from here to that window the width of the field that you'd plowed.

Then, in 1939, I bought my first tractor. It was just a two-row outfit. You could drive that thing all day long and never have to let it rest. When you farmed with a team, you had to let them rest once in a while. They'd get hot and all. Then, during the forties, I bought a four-row tractor, plowed four rows at a time. I was sure flying. Now they're using eight, ten, twelve-row outfits, especially where the land is fit for it. When I first started driving a tractor, gasoline was nine or ten cents a gallon.

 

 


                                                                  photo by David Sprague

Lillie G. Hausenfluck

 

WE KNEW WHAT HARD WORK WAS

 

Lillie G. Hausenfluck - Karen Willis, Interviewer

We were married in 1925, and I think Frank had fifteen dollars. But we were both raised on a farm, and we knew what hard work was. J had done every kind of farm work other than baling hay. We picked cotton and bought second-hand furniture for a two-bedroom house.

We farmed our first year and then moved to town for Frank to work in a garage for an older brother. Later we rented our house out and went to the country. Frank went to work for O. W. Cardwell for fifty cents a day; and if we went to the grocery store Saturday evening, he only got paid twenty-five cents for that day. But we got by. We had our own cow and chickens and everything. We never did go hungry or sleep cold unless we were too lazy to put wood on the fire.

 

FARM WORK

 

Adolph Wolbrueck - Michael D. Keller, Interviewer

We started farming with two-row equipment drawn by four mules. When the crops were up, we had to hoe and weed and disk the corn and cotton. When harvest time came, we would harvest the maize by cutting each head of grain with a knife and throw it on the wagon pulled by two mules. The corn was harvested the same way, only the ears were twisted off of the stalk and thrown on the wagon. The cotton was picked by hand and was put in a long tow sack that we had to pull by having a strap over our shoulder. When the sack was full, it was weighed and then emptied on a wagon. When we had 1500 pounds of cotton, it was hauled to the gin by a pair of mules. This would make a 500-pound bale of lint cotton. Sometimes the mule had to stand hitched to a wagon all day.

 

GROWING COTTON

 

Emil Ischy - Gregory S. Brown, Interviewer

 

In 1928, our friends here in town, two ladies, each had two kids, the wife and I and four colored folks, picked thirty-three bales that fall. Picked it—didn't pull it. About 1400 pounds to a bale, about 60 acres. If we made a half a bale to the acre, in those days, we were flying. Now they make two bales to the acre since they fertilize. We didn't fertilize in those days.

[We did poison.] Dad taken a horse and went horseback and put a stick across the saddle and he had little sacks over each row, two on each side. He'd go down the row, and, of course, the horse would trot, and that would shake those sacks and drop the poison on the cotton stalks. Mainly, in those days, they were bothered with leaf worm more than any other thing. Leaf worm would hit a cotton patch and clean it overnight. Then, in the later years, the boll weevil came into this country.

 

BEATING THE BOLL WEEVIL

 

E. C. "Pete" Bouffard - Bobby Deaton, Interviewer

The boll weevil—he was a rascal. Daddy used a machine, kind of a hand-built machine that would shake the cotton stalks. We'd use one mule and just drive through the fields for weeks on end, every day, and shake the cotton stalks. You do it in the middle of the day when the ground was hot, and get that old boll weevil on the ground and the sun was a hundred degrees, and he couldn't make it back up the cotton stalk. It worked pretty good; better than poison.

Then, for a while there, he had an invention. It was on wheels and it had a shaft running back behind the wheel that would sit right on top of the row, and it had a piece of metal that would turn, kind of like a fan, and take two rows at a time. It'd hit the stalks like that and knock the weevils out. Of course, the square, which is the cotton bloom before it opens to a bloom, is where the boll weevil laid its eggs. The cotton stalk would try to shed it. It would turn yellow, and the stem would get weaker, so if you could shake it just right, it would fall to the ground and then when they got on that hot ground down there, the boll weevil wouldn't hatch. One way of getting rid of them.

 

FARM WORK

 

Adolph Wolbrueck - Michael D. Keller, Interviewer

We started farming with two-row equipment drawn by four mules. When the crops were up, we had to hoe and weed and disk the corn and cotton. When harvest time came, we would harvest the maize by cutting each head of grain with a knife and throw it on the wagon pulled by two mules. The corn was harvested the same way, only the ears were twisted off of the stalk and thrown on the wagon. The cotton was picked by hand and was put in a long tow sack that we had to pull by having a strap over our shoulder. When the sack was full, it was weighed and then emptied on a wagon. When we had 1500 pounds of cotton, it was hauled to the gin by a pair of mules. This would make a 500-pound bale of lint cotton. Sometimes the mule had to stand hitched to a wagon all day.

 

 

COTTON PICKERS

 

Ruth S. Carlson - Christopher D. Caron, Interviewer

Cotton was the cash crop. In the fall of the year, my uncle, Martin Sandburg, would take the wagon and the team and go into Austin and get the colored family and move them out to live down in the little house in the pasture. They would come out and pick the cotton and stay maybe three weeks, until the crop was gathered. Then he would take them back to Austin. We had the same family come out from Austin every year for the longest. Old Aunt Carrie was the mother and she'd come up and get me; I'd cry and cry at night sometimes when I was real little, and she'd hear me and she'd come up and get me. I had colic and she'd take me and pat me and love me, and I'd go to sleep. She was a wonderful old person.

They came and picked cotton and stayed, and brought their whole family and cooked outside. They had a big family. Maybe twelve, fifteen would come out with them. They were just real good friends to you and you were good friends to them. A couple of years ago one of the men that used to pick cotton came by to see me. He was still in Austin and he came up to visit with me.

I remember one night in particular, my aunt was here, and she was playing the piano. They heard it, and they came up and stood outside the window and started singing the hymns that she was playing.

Later on, we had a Latin-American family that lived on the place and helped us some. They had one son and he was about the age that my brother was, and we taught him how to use a knife and fork, taught him how to write his name. He'd come up at night and sit with us, and we'd read to him and finally taught him to read just a little bit.

 

 

THRASHING

 

Beulah Yearwood - Irvine Frank Leffingwell, Interviewer

When we used to thrash the grain, we didn't have combines. You had a thrashing machine. The neighbors would come to help. They came and helped you, and then when they thrashed, you went to help them. The menfolks traded back and forth. That's the way they did. The wagons and teams went to the fields [to get the grain] that had been cut with a reaper. One person would stay on the wagon and take the bundles of grain, and the others would pitch them up there. Then they'd haul them to the thrashing machine. Then, they fed the grain into the thrasher, and it took the grain from the stems. That was a big day.

You'd have twenty, twenty-five men come to help. We'd fix dinner for them. If you want to hear something that sounded good, all those men sitting around the table stir-ring that iced tea. We had meat and beans and potatoes, bread, and usually cake and iced tea. Then, in the after-noon, we'd hardly get things washed up in the kitchen, and we took the food to them in the afternoon— sandwiches, cookies and lemonade, tea, or something like that.

[Now] a man comes in with his combine and has his truck, usually, and he combines the wheat or oats, and takes it all to the place where it's sold, and that's it. The owner doesn't have much to do about it. They do it all, and then he pays them for the combining and hauling. If you want to save some of the grain, you either hire him to bring it to your barn, or you put the trailers out there, and he'll put a certain amount in it for you, and get it unloaded into your barn. They combine corn quite a bit nowadays. Used to, it was pulled by hand. They have corn pullers that pull the ear off the stalk, or they combine it and it comes out as shelled corn.

 


                                                                  photo by David Sprague
Hilda Ohlhausen

THE EAGLE HUNT

 

Hilda Ohlhausen - Monica Krieg, Interviewer

[J. C. Ohlhausen was foreman on a large ranch near Leakey from 1936 to 1968. His widow, Hilda, recalled what the ranchers thought about the eagles.]

The eagles would come to the bedgrounds and pick up the little lambs and fly off. You could be driving down on one side of the canyon, and they'd go down where the bed-ground was, where it used to be an old field and pick up a little lamb, and he'd just cry and wave his little feet and they'd go off. Sometimes people would go down there and they'd honk a horn, and I guess the eagle could hear with the wind. Sometime they would drop one, but not usually. They'd carry that little lamb off and it's crying to get away, or kicking to get away, and the poor old mother'd just cry and cry. You'd be surprised at how many lambs they killed. They did little old fawn deer the same way, and the little fawn deer would scream.

So they formed an eagle hunt for people in an airplane to come fly over the ranches and kill the eagles that fly around. The ranchers were paying so much an hour for the eagle hunters to come. The first thing you know, they'd all decided, and they were coming in and they's flying over the ranch.

It was kind of a still day. Well, I didn't have a dryer to dry clothes with, and a still day is the day I wanted to wash. Of course, by the time we got eagle hunters, we had got water in at the house. But I didn't have a dryer, so I had to hang my clothes on the line. Well, there's the eagle hunters, and they'd stopped at my house to eat lunch and I wasn't prepared for it because it was wash day.

Time went on and they even got the Audubon people out there. They didn't want them killed because they's nearly extinct and they'd come and take them over the

ranch in their airplane. And when that airplane come in there, them eagle hunters knew just as well as anybody else did, because you knew the cars anyone drove that day and time. They'd come down that highway, past the house, and I'd be hanging out clothes, and you'd see this guy coming by the house to kill the eagle and he's watching to see which way that airplane was going.

When the hunters would get there early in the morning, they'd see at least five or six eagles flying around over where the stock was. I don't know how many they killed at one time. I had quite a bit at my backyard gate, and I went out there and told them, "Please do not leave them there. I cannot do nothing about it." They moved them from there. Where they took them, I don't know. If they killed one in the pasture, they'd go back in the jeep, or a pickup or something, and find it before they left it lay for dead.

Then in 1979, after we had been gone from the ranch for about ten years, I guess they got so severe with not letting them kill the eagles 'til it come on the news and in the paper. Some ranch hand who was working there on the ranch, and living in the house we used to live in, they said that he was with them when they killed an eagle in a helicopter. Well, I never have seen how they can get close enough to an eagle to kill it with a helicopter, with that propeller on top a going over. Of course, it's bad enough for an airplane. Anyway, they found an eagle's carcass there and they took those three boys to San Antonio. They had that trial in San Antonio, and this judge said he never had a trial like it before in his life. It went on, I don't know how long, but it was all in the paper and the pictures and everything.

They don't get to hunt eagles any more, just watch them fly over and destroy whatever they find—the ranchers' loss.

 

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