Free Disaster of the Midwestern Plains Essay Sample

The aftermath of the dust storm caused a great displacement for not only farmers, but families mentally and financially.

Research question: How did the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s affect families in the Midwest?

According to Worster (2004, Pp. 24-29), when the first bunch of Americans began to move towards the Midwest, they were in search of an ideal farming land and they are said to have been excited by what they saw in the vast and expanse prairie in the Midwest. They saw what they regarded as a Promised Land but latter came to cause them trouble and desperation. The homesteaders did flock to the tall grasses that span from south of Canada to Texas with certainty that hey had found the richest soil and the most ideal place to settle down. The settlers started to clear land to grow wheat and used some of the available materials to build houses, but little did they know that the grass and trees of these plains are what essentially nourished as well as held the soil together. The clearing of trees and grass became fierce and because of ther elimination from the plains, the moisture carried land down to the streams and rivers. The result was then a Dust Bowl.

In 1930, the southern plains were the better settlement regions where the farmers had managed to turn the prairie into a rich region. During this period, the other parts of the country were struggling with the Great Depression effects but the farmers in the region, were reaping a record breaking wheat crop and corn. During this period, the demand for wheat was high and the farmers were paid high prices for their crops. Such good price and financial success was a huge motive for the farmers to turn every part of the rich southern plains into a profit source.

The farming practices however started to take a toll on the land because the grasslands were now profoundly ploughed. The land was able to yield well during the periods of sufficient rainfall, however, as the drought became persistent, the farmers continued to plough the grasslands but with minimal results. During the summer of 1931, the rains simply stopped and dust bowl took shape.

The Dust Bowl of 1930s took less than a minute to sweep away the top soil that took years to put it in place. The sweep resulted in the drop of lakes’ water levels by more than five feet, and the wind was able to pick the top soil that was left bare with nothing to hold it together. The great dust clouds began to mark out the sun and, in some regions, the dust did drift like snow resulting in the darkening of the sky for days. The dust storm did engulf entire towns and left a thick layer of dust on all that was then standing in the southern prairies.

The dust storm primarily led to drought, dust, and decline in agriculture. In prior years, agriculture growth of wheat and corn helped to feed the nation during the World War and Great Depression. These two periods were marked with high prices and farmers charged record high prices but, after the dust bowl, the practice was no more in use. The devastation of agriculture, instead, did contribute to lengthening of the Great Depression and its effects became fierce. The dust bowl resulted in the worst drought ever in the United States of America.

Due to the dust storm, population faced meager existence. The affected families did struggle to survive on cornbread and milk. The situation did result in one of the largest migration in the history of America from the plains. The population which once enjoyed financial and agricultural success was willing to work for any wage planting and harvesting on other farmers’ lands. The effects of poor agricultural practices did, in this instance, fuel the miseries of the farmers as they were the factor that contributed to the presence of the dust bowl.

The migrating population was not well received on arriving in the western states. This was attributed to the fact that the majority of these people were jobless and the farms in California were corporate owned. These farms were huge and used modernized methods and agricultural practices as opposed to what the displaced farmers had in place. The poor living conditions and standards were shocking and could not support the basic family life. The families in most cases lived in shacks that did lack a floor and plumbing (Rosenberg, 1980, Pp. 42).

In the close of 1934, the cattle feed was depleted and the government opted to buy and destroy the starving livestock. This project was the most pressing for the farmers but they had no other better option. The majority of the farmers had difficulties with parting with their cattle but the government option to buy and slaughter the cattle helped these farmers to avoid bankruptcy and financial strive.

During the dust bowl, people and animals began to die because of the dust suffocation and associated pneumonia. This was attributed to the 1935 spring wind blow which lasted for a continuous twenty seven days and nights.

According to Gardner (2010, pp. 31), the aftermath of the dust bowl ended up with a lot of family displacement not only mentally but also financially. The family members succumbed to the suffocation and diseases such as dust pneumonia that were brought about by the dust bowl.  Many of these people were made suffer due to the agonies of having lost their family members and the difficult financial and agricultural spell. The mental torture of having a full burden on someone’s shoulders to struggle was demeaning. The population which fed the nation during the World War and earned a good amount of money from agricultural production had now become beggars and was succumbing to poverty. This was attributed to their farming practices, destruction and disruption of the farming calendar and lack of rainfall. The aftermath of the dust storm was scaring and all the affected population was suffering much both mentally and financially. These people could not help themselves and President Roosevelt’s administration believed it was the government role to offer relief to the stressed farmers. Bills were passed towards relieving poverty and checking unemployment as well as significant gearing was created to spur speedy economic recovery.  Within the dust aftermath, the Roosevelt’s administration also began to educate farmers on soil conservation and the anti-erosion agricultural practices.  This included the adoption of methodologies and techniques such as crop rotation and strip farming, contour plowing and terracing as well as other beneficial practices that eased financial hiccups and mental stress to the devastated farmers. 

In summary, the Dust Bowl of 1930s affected the farmers and families which lived and practiced agriculture in the affected areas in big magnitudes. People lost their agricultural production and success as well as the income that they earned from the sale of the products such as wheat and corn. The population that used to live on a balanced diet was reduced to corn, beans and  milk and had to live in shackles that were in deplorable conditions and inhuman to inhabit. The dust storm did thus affected to the large extent the lives of many farmers who were suffering until the adoption of the soil conservation agricultural practices which saw the reopening of the skies in 1939 and agriculture again became a popular economic activity in the USA.