Transcript/Biography

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[Chris:] "My grandfather – If it wasn't for him I would not be back farming. There's no way I could get the backing to get started up farming."

[Clyde:] "The grandson that I'm working with right now [Chris] that I'm kind of in a partnership with, and he's more or less taking some of that over."

[Chris:] "I think I've seen a lot of change but it is nothing compared to what he's seen."

[Clyde:] "I can't image anybody's life span that has seen as many changes as my era, the people that were born about the time I was to this stage. Like, everything was horses back then. No tractors. And now you go to tractors and you go to global positioning. You don't even have to be in that tractor to send it to the other end and back and all that stuff. But it's hard. And then going to the moon and all that. It's just hard to visualize that any other generation could have seen as many changes, maybe, as we have in the last almost 100 years, I guess you might say."

[Chris:] "He's getting up and harnessing your team. Going out to plow with your two or three bottom plow all day long. Looking back [and thinking], 'Oh I got a couple acres, you know.'"
     [Question:] "A couple of acres done that entire day."
     "Yeah, during that entire day. And now around here – we don't plow – but you go out [with a] 30-foot planter, say. One round through the field, three and a half acres, half mile round is three and a half acres."

[Clyde:] "If you farmed a section of land back then, why, you were a big farmer. So like a quarter of a section was probably a good average, maybe three 80's. It might take you a day and a half or two days to plow 10 acres with a couple plows, you know. You go three or four rounds and maybe rest the horses for a little while and start whittling. [He laughs.] You rest your horses a little bit. You had to treat [them well]. That was your livelihood, was your horses, so you took care of them."

[Chris:] "My grandfather remembers and he – We still have the original John Deere A that they got – 1936 they got their first tractor."
     [Question:] "How many horsepower?"
     "Low 30 horsepower."
     [Question:] "So, he was going from two horses [and] two horsepower to 30."
     "Yes, to 30 horsepower."
     [Question:] "To – what do you have now?"
     "I run a 225-horse tractor."
     [Question:] "So, can you imagine hitching up 225 horses?"
     "Right! Can you imagine the hay that you would have to raise to keep 225 horses in your stable?"

[Clyde:] "So, that's the change I was talking about earlier, you know. You can't visualize! We've got a monitor in our combine that tells, on the go it tells what the corn's making, what the moisture of the corn is. And that's your global positioning. If you go one step farther, then you can hook up to the global part, [and find] that exact spot in that field."

[Chris:] "Grandpa was born in '24, so it wasn't long when the 30s came along, the Depression came along. And it was tough. I mean he's told stories. It was definitely tough."

[Clyde:] "Everybody should go through tough times, money-wise or whatever."

[Chris:] "[He's] very shrewd, very shrewd. I was raised or brought up very shrewd. I mean, if you saved a penny you saved a penny. And that is very true today. Grandpa took very good care of me. I had a flock of sheep. Grandpa took care of me. My sheep had all the hay they could eat. That herd of sheep put me through a two year vo-tech school. I come out [with] no debt. It put my sister through pre-med."

[Clyde:] "My grandson is ahead of me as far as like his junior college, you know. He's, in fact, he makes more decisions today than I do. I'm still the old fashioned one. I might say, 'Well, I don't think we need that.' I must be a little more conservative or something, you know. But, he's more gung ho and that's good because a lot of that stuff he picked up through school and that that I didn't."

[Chris:] "I don't want to take away from past generations. But when my grandfather Clyde was growing up, I maybe would have said, 'The harder you worked the more money you were going to make.' And I'm not going to say that's not true today. But [today] you have to work hard and you have to manage hard."

Chris & Clyde – Farming Across Generations

   

Excerpts from Chris Ziegler’s Interview:

Women on the Farm
His Girls & Farming
Urban Sprawl, with Clyde Ehlers
Raising Kids for Export
Using Fertilizers
Tractors (& Horses) Bog Down
Planting Tech Changes
Tillage Changes