Breaking the Land

It’s time for another Friday Fictioneers post and today’s prompt inspired me with a poem of sorts. Many thanks to our patient and inspiring host, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, for shepherding our FF group through green pastures teeming with tales, and to Danny Bowman for the challenging prompt. I see the various muses have been productive even given this barren landscape to write about.

Speaking of productive, I’m delighted to tell you all that my book is published and now live on Amazon! (Fireworks and cartwheels ๐Ÿ™‚ )ย  Silver Morning Song is a collection of poems, short stories and fables. I plan to publish it on Kobo as well; I’ll likely spend today doing that, plus setting up an Author Account on Amazon and generally telling the world. And as all authors will say, I’d really appreciate reviews. ๐Ÿ™‚

On to today’s prompt:

Right now we seem to be in a world of unprecedented water and storms; eighty years ago it was unprecedented drought. I’ll dedicate this verse to all the poor inexperienced homesteaders who came to these Great Plains and were advised to deep-plough their fields every fall. Took the ‘Dirty Thirties’ to prove agricultural advisers of the day so wrong. Farmers today practice “no till” farming.

PHOTO ยฉ Danny Bowman


We said weโ€™d break this land
with hope and bare essentials.
Our ploughs cut deep
furrows across its face โ€”
then we couldnโ€™t catch it.

The wind owns this land,
had we only known!
Tore the dirt from our fields,
dumped it five miles east,
then threw it back at us
in the next west wind.
Our seed grain went with it;
clear to oblivion.

The land froze us in winter,
baked us in summer,
dried us like tumbleweeds in fall
and the wind blew us away.
Through long ragged years
tried to break this land,
โ€˜til the land broke us.

58 thoughts on “Breaking the Land

    1. Thank you. It was indeed true for many, with ag-reps of the day pretty clueless themselves. To make matters worse, any hint of “cold” or “dry” was forbidden in all govt literature promoting the Canadian prairies to would-be immigrants.

      Thank you. I’m a nature-lover and my book shows it. I first compiled it in Jan 2013 so am really happy to finally publish it.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. A very moving tale , Christine. Beautiful!
    Congratulations on the book. Really happy for you and hope I can order one from India. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Best wishes..


      1. Oh, that’s great! Thanks for checking it out. It took me as long to write my bio as it would to write a whole chapter in a book! Debating what I’ve done in my life that readers would want to know about, etc? I left out jobs and a number of hobbies, but then it seemed like I’d done nothing all my life. ๐Ÿ™‚ And I completely forgot to put in anything about my children’s book!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The pleasure was mine- seeing your name on the book cover. Proud moment for your family and friends. Bio is a tough nut to crack and you did a great job.๐Ÿ™‚ It’s hard to put pne’s life in a pleasing nutshell. You can always add info though, right?
        Cheers to you and best wishes…

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks. If you’d see the bin I have, and all the notebooks, full of half-baked ideas, you’d know why I use the term scribblings. some of them finally make it to the light of day. ๐Ÿ™‚
        A lot of shorter bits, ideas that don’t make it to full-fledged poems, I post on my haiku blog, “Treetop haiku.”

        Liked by 1 person

  2. My dad referred to plowing deep as “loosening the bowels of the earth.” An apt description. There was a great documentary on PBS a couple of years ago about the Dust Bowl Days. You captured it well in this poem.

    Congrats on the publication. I’ll check it out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment. I’ve read some about the Dust Bowl — in the 30’s, from Texas clear up to Saskatoon and Edmonton, not much grew but tumbleweeds. It would have been quite something to live through. In his auto-bio one OK vet wrote about trying to drive when he couldn’t see the hood of his car for blowing dust.

      Deep plowing in the fall works in a region where there’s more than ten inches of rainfall in a year. In SW Ontario where they get up to 100 inches of snow in winter— 160″ one “abundant” year — never mind rainfall — farmers don’t have to worry about the dirt blowing anywhere. Even experienced Eastern farmers, when they moved onto the prairie, made the same mistake.

      As to my book, thanks for your cheer. I could say it’s like spending four and a half years in labor, very intense the past two months, and FINALLY giving birth. The relief is delightful. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment. The Stock Market Crash followed by the Dirty thirties was a one-two punch that broke a lot of western folks.
      As to my book, as I tell others, it’s like spending 4 1/2 yrs in labour and FINALLY seeing the baby’s face. ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. What works in one place doesn’t necessarily work in another, and it caused a lot of pain before this lesson was learned. Wonderful poem, and congrats on the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you — twice over. Definitely, both climate and soil type can make a profound difference in how land can be used.
      I feel a great relief having my book live in the e-bookstores, but now for the marketing, a new aspect to this business. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


    1. Thanks for your encouragement. I know it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I do hope it will fly to a modestly successful roost in the e-book stats. ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad you enjoyed this poem; I’ve always liked writing nature poems.


    1. Thanks for your encouraging comment! Now I have a question about those first two lines. I considered two other options. What do you think?

      We came to break this land
      with hope and bare essentials
      We tried to break this land
      came with hope and bare essentials
      (This would tie in with the ending lines better.)


    1. Thanks for your comment. The book The Grapes of Wrath was set in the same time period, if I recall correctly. It was the one=two punch of economic depression and extreme climate change. for a lot of prairie farmers, if you could produce any commodity, no one had money to buy it.
      And then there were the insect pests — like grasshoppers in clouds so thick they blotted out the sun. Driving down the road was like driving on grease and when a swarm of hoppers landed they could clean off an entire field of grain in a morning. Hard times indeed!


    1. It was indeed. All across the Great Plains area from Texas clear up to a line from north of Winnipeg, Manitoba, through Saskatoon, Sask, on to the farmland south of Edmonton, Alberta, the dust blew. It blew a lot of farmers and ranchers off the land, many farms were abandoned.
      So many heartbreaking stories of folks hanging on year after year, finally giving up after 1935, the year there was nothing green all across the prairies. It’s my dream to someday write a children’s story about that era.

      Thanks for your congrats on my book. Now to learn something about marketing!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I read a lot about how they created the dust bowl. Every time I see a western where the old cattle baron tells the new farmers “You can’t plow this land. If you destroy the grass, it will become a desert.” And of course, the farmers are always right. But they weren’t right.

    Commonsense is not necessarily common or sensible.


    1. Thanks for your common-sense comment. ๐Ÿ™‚ They should have listened to the folks who lived here. Unfortunately the new settlers had the government agents advising them on how to farm — experts who’d never experienced this land. I read in one account that even into the 1930s the Dept of Agriculture was advising farmers at Swift Current — some of the driest climate in the West — to deep plow their fields in fall.
      Nowadays farmers are convinced that their modern farming methods have eliminated the possibility of soil erosion, so many are tearing out their shelter belts. As long as the rain keeps falling and the crops keep growing there will be “trash cover” to protect the soil and drifting shouldn’t be a problem. But… If we got climatic conditions and hopper infestations like they had in the Thirties, our fields would be bare and our soil would blow.


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