What is in this article?:
- Hale County farmer is working on his 67th crop.
- Installed drip irrigation two years ago.
- Enjoys watching things grow.
POINTS OF INTEREST, in Elmo Snelling’s Hale County, Texas, yard include old farm implements he’s restored. At 98, Snelling has seen significant changes in farm equipment and technology. Better cotton varieties, he says, has been the most important change.
He put in the drip systems just two years ago. “I still have a lot to learn about drip irrigation,” he says.
He has drip on two of the three pivot corners he works. The drip tape installer cut the water line and “eliminated me from getting water to that other corner,” he says. He repaired some of the drip lines that were not properly installed.
He was disappointed in last year’s crop and thinks changes in fertilization and variety may have been reasons. He put some of his fertilizer through the system and it did not work as well as he expected. “I’ll go back to applying fertilizer before planting this year,” he says. He also plans to switch back to FiberMax cotton. He tried another brand last year and was not pleased. “FiberMax has been a good variety for years, and I really had no good reason to change.”
Snelling has farmed through some long dry spells since he made his first crop back in 1946. He takes dry weather in stride. “I don’t recall a lot of hardship from the 1950-era drought. I just plant like it’s going to rain every day. You just have to take the weather the good Lord gives you.”
He’s irrigated since he started farming in Hale County. “We used to row water, and it is a lot easier to punch a button than to move pipe.
“This is not dryland crop country,” he says. “If I wanted to farm dryland I’d go back to Tillman County, Okla., but they’ve been suffering with drought the last few years, too. I’m thankful that I cast my lot out here.”
Snelling worked on a farm long before he started out on his own, working for his father and grandfather on a farm near Frederick, Okla. He recalls his grandfather bringing in a pair of Percheron horses to the farm. “I harnessed the horses first thing in the mornings. My grandfather never owned a tractor,” he recalls.
“I was the farmer. I mowed hay and raked it. After I got it raked we came in with a buck rake and brought it to the baler, (another implement propelled by original horse power).
“I pitched a lot of bales up in the barn loft.”
He chuckles as he says that at the time he thought he might be “a little too young for that job. I got weaker and wiser,” he says.
He also remembers shocking grain with a hired hand and then being offered the opportunity to drive the tractor. “I said I could do it, and I cut square corners, just like the tractor driver had done. I thought it (driving the tractor) was easier than shocking.”
They brought the shocked oats to the thresher and then stored the grain in bins.
He put up oats in the loft. “We had to scoop the oats into the loft and then scoop them into the bin. I was very happy to get my first grain augur.”