Thursday, January 13, 2011

Council Grove, Kansas: Don and Doris Cress

On a hot Sunday morning, after sleeping at the Canning Creek Cove campground in Kansas, we pulled into the small town of Council Grove.  The town, located roughly between Salina and Topeka, is historically significant for being a key stop on the Santa Fe Trail.  As such, we were not surprised to find ourselves having breakfast at The Santa Fe Cafe, eating a remarkable breakfast burrito.

The Santa Fe Cafe had just changed hands and a family of four was there to greet us and take our order.  Our waitress looked to be about 9 years old and when we ordered 2 breakfast burritos she scrunched her forehead in thought and put her pencil to the order pad and scratched out "2 brayfast blotos" then happily skipped back to the kitchen where her dad was waiting and whispered loudly "Two breakfast burritos dad. But I didn't know how to spell that."

The burritos, or blotos as we now call them, arrived and they could have fed an army with as much eggs and vegetables as were stuffed into that fragile tortilla.  She came back to get our empty plates, offered each of us a raspberry candy and then went outside to hail in the passing motorcyclists that were roaring through downtown slowly on a Sunday morning drive.  There were swarms of motorcyclists out to take advantage of this beautiful bluebird day, and, as we left, a few came in and took our place to order their own blotos.

Trav and I decided that our next course of action would be to go to church, as we figured those Kansans who weren't riding around on their motorcycles would most likely be in a church on Sunday morning, and we wanted to meet people.  I called my dad, who is a minister, to consult and see which denomination would be most likely to have the best snacks and we ended up going with the Presbityrians.

There was a great time of singing and then we sat through an interesting service in which a woman told of her recent experience with a missionary school in Guatemala.  A youth group rafting trip that had been planned for the day before had been cancelled, so as we filed out of the sanctuary we grazed on all the Subway sandwiches that would otherwise be doomed to perish, as well as some excess cucumbers from a parishoners garden.  Between bites we introduced ourselves to the minister and got to telling him about our project with farmers.  With a light in his eye he snapped out his cell phone and called two church members who had just retired from their farm and moved into town, being 91 and 87 years old.

Don and Doris Cress are the oldest farmers that we had the pleasure of interviewing, and their stories about how things used to be were a pleasure, a history and a warning all at the same time.

Click "read more" to see what they had to say in their own words.

DORIS: Don has farmed since he was a kid.  He started out by working for other people and then's his story.

DON: Well, picked it up when I was about 12 years old.  My dad had been farmin', and then had some family tragedies, and he quit for a few years.  Started back up again and...'course he'd always farmed with horses and so we were still farmin' with horses.  One reason, he liked horses, I guess.  It wasn't a very big operation.  One thing he did, he had a pair of mules.  You know what I mean, a team.  They weren't too big...oh, probably weighed 900 pounds apiece.  He put me behind those mules on a walking cultivator...and I'm probably 'bout the only one in my generation that ever run one of those things.

DORIS:  That's where you started your farming, huh?

DON:  That's where I started.  Then I was in 4-H and I had an acre pas that he turned over to me and I got to raising corn on it.   But when I got out of high school...I got out of high school one week and the next Monday morning I was hired out down on the river to a fellow that needed a hand, and worked for him that summer.  Next year I went to another guy and worked for him 2 years...there I was runnin' a tractor.  An old Farm-All.  'Course we converted some horse equipment to tractor equipment.  Horse equipment has long tongues that stuck out about 8 feet.  We cut them off and made a stubby tongue so we could hitch it right behind a tractor.  We did some of that and he bought some equipment that was for the tractor.

The year of '38, in which I was workin' for him, he had about 100 acres of wheat.  And that's quite a bit of wheat in this area at that time.  It started raining.  The year before, we cut it with a binder and threshed it...but this particular year it started raining about the time he started thinking about getting the binder out.  Now, you know what I'm talkin' about, a binder?  Okay, this had an 8-foot table on it with canvas.  It run wheat up the chute to a knotter.  They'd ply it up and tie.  Well, in '38 we couldn't do anything because there was a flood that was here in this town, and most places all around.  So when it began to dry up, he came in to town and bought an Allis combine.  I don't know if that means anything to ya.  A 5-foot cut, and they were orange.  Allis-Chalmers orange.  And put it behind this tractor.  Well, the had wide-based flat wheels with angle-armed lugs on 'em, and about the first thing that happened, you get maybe one round around the field, and then you hit a wet spot...and then the thing go like this {cocks his head and twists his arms sideways} and just settle down.  And so, he got a neighbor that had a tractor with skeleton wheels and so put him on the front, pullin' with a chain.  We got along a little better.  Only thing was, if we got stuck then we was really stuck.  Kinda like a 4-wheel drive over a 2-wheel drive pickup!  The 2-wheel drive'll get stuck pretty quick, you know, somewhere.  But the 4-wheel drive'll plow on in quite a ways and then REALLY get stuck!

DORIS:  Tell 'em, Don, when you started farming for yourself!

DON:  Well, yeah, in '39 my family had an interesting farm.  It was vacant, so to speak, so I started farming for myself.  I bought one of these tractors like we had on that combine.  Well the guy that had the combine, after that year was over, I spent all winter on that thing, in the shop.  Those years they used to take a binder that would cut a row crop and tie it in a bundle, then shock it up in the field.  Then you go through with this header on this combine with a sickle sticking out up and the sections running back and was the only one around at the time.  The next year when I started I got some old horses.  I got some horse machinery.  I had a friend about my age, he was helpin' me, so he'd have to ride the thing.

TRAV:  So, when did you two meet?

DORIS:  Well, we were married in 1941 and we could afford to get married because my husband had some cattle that he had on the pasture.  He raised enough profit on that to buy a ring and a little bit of furniture and we got married in the Fall.  October the 21st of 1941.  He had been farming a couple of years before that by himself.  In '42 we had our first child and we had three children all together.  The kids were active in 4-H.  Are you acquainted with 4-H?  There's 12 years difference between the oldest and the youngest, so we were in 4-H a long time!  We went to the county fair out here just a few days ago, kind of reminiscing of when we used to things have changed.

I always had a garden.  That always came with being a farm wife and I raised lots of chickens.  I would sell the roosters when they got to be about 3 pounds, maybe 5.

DON:  Sell 'em for fryers.

DORIS:  Sell 'em for fryers.  'Course we kept the pullets to lay in the henhouse in wintertime.  Oh, gee!  I was in what they called Extension work for several work for several years.  For a farm woman that was really an outlet to her.  Because most farm women didn't go to town maybe once a week or twice.  But this would give us an occasion to meet with our neighbor ladies and we always had what we called a lesson.  It came from K State.  We had refreshments!

KACY: It was social!

DORIS:  It was social.

KACY:  What kind of lessons were they?

DORIS:  Oh...what length should your curtains be...and what color paint would you choose...and nutrition, you'd learn about nutrition.  Oh, stuff like that.  We had a rural Sunday school with our kids and we all went to church.  Don raised cattle here in the Bluestem area of Kansas.

DON:  Yeah, south of here 'bout six, seven miles.

DORIS:  In the Flint Hills area.

DON:  We were right in the Flint Hills.

DORIS:  People talk about the grass being the greenest it's ever been this year, 'cause we had so many snows and rain, and we just took cattle out of the pasture and they gained what they should have gained, or more, I think!

DON:  Well, they hope to get 200 pounds on a 600-pound critter.  And these wouldn’t have weighed six when they went in...but they weighed eight, ten comin' out!  So, well, they weren't sold.  They went to Western Kansas to a feedlot.

DORIS:  We just recently moved to town.  About 2 months.  We lived where we lived for 68 years.

We sold the house and the buildings to some people and 10 acres.  They're city people that like the outdoors and especially the water.  We lived on a little creek called Spring Creek, which was fed by springs, and we always had good water.  We always had water and we were very fortunate.  People down the road were not that fortunate and not that far away from us.  They didn't have water in the dry years.

DON: I always kept some riding mares and raised some colts along.  Always broke 'em myself.  And sometimes I'd sell them, sometimes I'd sell the older horses.  They were paints.  Bay and white.  Had a cow herd in the '40's and they got wiped out with abortion.  Then I had to go to stocker cattle again.

TRAV:  How did your farm change over the years?  Did you get much bigger?

DON:  Well...yeah.  It started out as 280 and when I's done was 460 {acres}.  I added small tracts, 'cause older people would that had a small place would sell out, you know.  Still got it all in a square.

TRAV:  So over the years, what are the biggest issues you've had to deal with around here as a farmer?

DON:  Well...the '50's were tough years.  I don't know if anyone ever told you this, at least around here. Markets weren't very good and we were dry.  And I took a side job along about '56, with a life insurance company.  Unusual that once I got my basic training, as a fellow says, they had a problem situation in Wichita, and they sent 4 of us down there to call on the people.  And that really got me started in it.  I did that for about 10, 12 years, besides farming.

I was one of the first guys in the community to have a rubber-tired tractor.  'Cause that old Farm-All I was talking about, with iron lugs, that summer I cut 300 acres of wheat and oats in the community, and down in the Flint Hills, you go over the roads, poundin' those flint rocks, broke a bunch of spokes in the wheels.  I'd already got the front end on rubber, so that winter I had a chance to do a trade.  What it was was an Oliver, on rubber.

TRAV:  What year was that that you went with rubber?

DON:  Um...'40.  I bought it used, and knocked a rod out, so I went and got the inserts and took the panel off and replaced all of em.  Well, when I got all done, got it all buttoned up and back together, I started it up and it went "ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding," not very loud, but little but of a ping.  Well, somebody said, if you just let it sit in the yard for about half a day in idle, it'll probably get over it, and sure enough it did!  It had a groove in the top of the cylinder.  The new bearing bein' an eighth of an inch higher the old one, it would bang the ring against that thing as the pistons went up and down.   I guess that's one reason I did the swappin'.  I was afraid the thing might blow up on me, give it another year.

DORIS:  He also had a stagecoach.  {Brings in a photograph}.  We were in a parade in Lawrence and there it is, without the horses.  He's got so many different things!

TRAV:  How has it been for both of you, leaving the farm after so long?

DON:  She's had some health problems and I can't see.  So if there was an emergency I couldn't drive her to town.  After we got in here, sure enough, there was.  We called the, um...what do you call it?

DORIS:  The ambulance.

DON:  Yeah.  Ambulance come pick her up.

DORIS:  I have some heart problems and, like he said, he can't see to drive and I do the driving.  So far we're getting on pretty good.

KACY:  Did you said you sold 10 acres and buildings, right?  Did you keep some land?

DON:  Yeah, I kept everything else.  I still got 450 acres, more or less.  In recent years I sowed the farm ground for crops to brome.  Brome grass.  It's a tame grass, gets about that high.  You cut it about wheat harvest time, bale it up, it makes wonderful hay.  And then that's the end of it.  In the fall, you get some rain, you might get some pasture out of it, like wheat pasture, but the farm ground's been in this brome for 10 years anyway.  So, I've had a custom operator...well, a neighbor, who wanted a part of the hay, so we put it up on shares.  I guess ya know what I mean, he takes some and I get some.  And that's kind of the way we quit the farmin'.

So when I had a sale this spring, all that four-row equipment I had was just so much iron.  Because it's so obsolete nowadays.  "course I used to plant beans and 30-inch rows and so forth.  Nowadays they take a drill in there, nearly as long as that van, and space them about so far apart, in rows about that far apart, just as thick as they can be.  They put herbicide on the ground and that way you don't have any weeds.

DORIS:  We still get income from the farm.  The neighbor who buys the hay and the guy who rents the pasture for their cows.  And then in the fall usually the neighbor will rent the brome grass for pasture for young stock.  And so, it's worked out pretty well for us that way.

DON:  ‘Course that's one of those things that're subject to change if things aren't just right.  You got to have somebody that wants to do it...and the season's adaptable for it.

TRAV:  Did you ever want to leave the farm?  Did you ever want to do something else?

DON:  Well...I had my share of doin' somethin' else with that insurance thing.  I kinda got out of that and got into crop insurance.  And, well...{chuckles}...somebody turned my name into a crop insurance supervisor and he came along...well it was in March of '60.  We'd had snow piled up about that high on the side of the road.  It started right after Christmas and never quit till the middle of March.  Snowed a little every day, maybe.  Couple inches or such.  I lost some calves.  Usually had cows bred to drop calves in March....well they did.  They dropped them in the snow and that was the end of that.  You know, the poor little things was settin' there...their body was warm so it'd immediately melt the snow down and they'd be layin' in a puddle of water.  They'd wear themselves out.  I had them out in the field...I could haul straw out, try to make a place for them, they always go off somewhere else...that's the nature of the brutes.  Lost about half the calf crop out of that.  That kind of encouraged me to keep doin' something else 'sides farmin'.

The crop insurance thing...they come along in April of that year, the supervisor did.   Wanted to send me up north of Salina to pick up some reinstatements, of people who quit, lappsed their policy I guess you might call it.  They had had 40 inches of snow up there in February and so on, when we was getting 30 inches or such.  But I don't know, it just kind of worked out...I'd get enough work from that to keep goin'.  I'd get my farming done.

Didn't have a lot of cattle at that time, but later I kind of started building up some cows, and 'fore it was over with in the early '80's, around '85, I had 65 head of cows.  Had a cow herd that was workin' out real good and was doing some crossbreeding.

DORIS:  We had short-horned cows.

DON:  Well, originally, yeah.  By that time I had a little bit of everything.

DORIS:  Well anyway, he worked enough that three kids got a college education!

TRAV:  And how long were you with Extension?

DORIS:  Oh, I don't know.  Hm...Thirty years maybe!  I'm just making a guess, I can't remember.  Oh, I expect 30 years!

We have a different situation here with our extension system.  We're combining Chase County with Morris County.  Where always before we had our own agents, and they were really a part of the community.  I don't know just what they have now, but they're progressing, I guess, in a different manner.  And the Extension program for the women is not offered anymore as far as I know of.  I always thought, when I lost interest in it, that younger women than I that were coming on, most of them had some college education, where I didn't have anything like that, so it was really a blessing to me at my age.  It just outgrew itself I think, the women's part.

TRAV:  So, over the years, what did you really love about the farm?  What really kept you there?

DON:  Oh, I don't know...I grew up on a farm a quarter mile from where I lived, and it was just kind of in my blood.  I like horses and...

My Uncle Walt used to say...I guess I'm kind of like him...he says, "Farming is next year's business.  It's always gonna be better next year than it was this year."  I didn't care to live in town.

DORIS:  I never knew anything else but the farm.  So, just kind of went along, year after year!

DON:  Well, when I bought it I got a federal land bank loan, which was the tail end of the 4% loans down in the early '50's, or late '40's I guess it would have been.  Interest was goin' up and the Federal Land Bank thing...they had started those farm loans at 4% back in the Depression, and of course when things got to gettin' better, why they just naturally increased the interest rate.  The last piece of ground we bought, it was 6%, but I didn't go back to the Land Bank.  Some friend of mine was taking loans for an insurance company, so I just took that.

TRAV:  Was it a real hard decision for you to move to town finally?

DORIS:  I don't think so.

DON:  No, we were ready.

DORIS:  I don't know if you want to know our ages, but Don is 91, and in a few weeks I'm going to be 87, and don't you think it was time?  {Chuckles}  My health problem was beginning to loom up.

DON:  Last Fall, the next day after Labor Day she went to the hospital with pneumonia.  She was there for 6 days and usually, pneumonia, you're out of there in 3 days!  The basic problem was, they finally figured out was, she had food around her heart and lungs.  They bored a hole between her ribs and her back with a syringe and sucked that stuff out of there. know, it was time to quit, that's what it amounts to.

We used up about all the gas and we quit!

DORIS:  'Course the house, was a big two-story house, and it was in fair condition.  We kept it up pretty well, and I had planted cedar spreaders out the back...and the people that bought it cut 'em out!  And I said to my daughter, "Why?!"  She said, "Because they wanted to see the creek!"  I didn't think of it, but that's true, you just look right out the doors, see the creek!  And that creek enticed them to buy that place.

DON:  See, the creek was no farther from that house than from here to the street.

TRAV:  You didn't have any trouble with flooding there?

DON:  We had, a couple times.

DORIS:  He was gone on insurance business, and our son was at home.  He was about 15.  He had 4-H stock in the barn...and it rained.  And it rained, and the water came up, and it came up, and I said, "you gotta get that calf out of the barn."  And he waded clear up to his waste, got the calf.  And we were feeding a blind calf to butcher!  And that blind calf just put his snoot right up over the back of that other calf and followed it right out!

DON:  Put his nose right on the other calf's tail there.

DORIS:  We had a hook in a tree where the kids would tie their calves, which he did.  The water just run under that calf's belly like ran for half a mile.  We never, never had a flood like that!  And he wasn't home!  He missed it.  {laughs}  Oh dear!

Ordinarilly the water was really good to us.

KACY:  Did you have neighbors close by?

DORIS:  Mm-hm.  We did have, in the kids' growing-up years.  We had other little kids around us, but finally that was sold.  And the man who bought it tore down the house, and so we were, I guess you could say, isolated, but didn't think anything about it.  I lived there for too many years, you know, it was home!  And it's a beautiful place, it really is.  Lots of beautifiul trees.  But they cut down my cedar.

But they like it, they really like it, and that's the way it ought to be.

DON:  But they bought it the way I wanted to sell it.  On the west side of the building is a road.  On the east side of the building is the creek.  And above the creek is a high hill covered with trees.  I sold ten acres. which would have been the building, the creek, and the trees.  Way I fenced it, I got to keep all the grass.  That's my main interest.  'Cause it's an item you cam lease out and all you have to do is take the check to the bank when you get it.  You're gonna have to build a fence once in a while, but...but this road cut off 80 acres on one side and then the creek turned and went east, and then south to the highway.  West of that spot was another 40 acres of grass, set of loading pens...then up and down the creek and the field was where all the brome grass was.  Then west of that again was another 240 acres of grass.

DORIS:  Had to give away one of our horses.

DON:  Yeah.  {laughs}

He was 19 years old.  He was an old horse, one of them Paint mares.  He was was fool proof.  In fact he was lazy.  The horse market went all to pot.  I don't know if you had anyone tell you that, but, for a few years you could get, oh, $1000 for most any kind of horse.  Then they got to where they wouldn't let them kill 'em.  Wild horses out west, in the Rockies...they used to round those up and auction off what somebody wanted and take the rest to the slaughterhouse.  But they made 'em quit slaughtering 'em.  So that dumped the horse market right there.  Gosh, I know a guy up north that raises colts and used to get $1000, $1500 for a colt.  Last year or two he couldn't get $40 or $50 bid on them.

Anyhow, back to this old horse...I give him to this fellow because I knew he'd take care of him and he'd have a place to live as long as he was able to survive.  There's spots around in this country where people just shut horses in a pasture and go off and leave 'em.  In the winter, and never cut the ice and never give 'em any hay or nothin'.  And it's not unusual, every year the fish and game people...animal rights, or whatever it is will catch a guy on one of those deals and they'll take everything away from him and put him out of business.

I can't remember names very good anymore, to tell you what government agencies they are.

TRAV:  I'm curious, from your perspective, after being involved with agriculture for so long...what would be some changes you'd like to see in the agriculture system?

DON:  Oh...well, 'course my princible interest was in the livestock side of it.  I guess, just to make it simple, I'd like to see them enforce the packers and stockyards act.  Now, that is an old act that was put in back in 1908 or '10, or somewhere in there, to make fareness in the livestock market.  But these big packers got so large and they got so united and they got in the cattle feedin' business, to where they just about run that market anywhere that they want it.  'Course supply and demand still enters in, but they are taking some of the activities away from what the small farmers would be doing in livestock.

It's one of those things where the nuts and bolts are there, but nobody'll use 'em!

You're going to get me wound up now, careful!  The packers will buy off the agencies enough that they can still control the thing.  These cattle I had out here, there was 130 head of 'em, and they went to Leoti, Kansas, to Cargill, which is a big cattle-feedin' outfit...they got feedlots scattered clear down to Amarillo...well, they paid a fair price.  I'm not complaining about them this time, but I've seen it, times when they just bear down on ya and you couldn't get anybody to bid against them if you went to the auction.  They pretty well controlled things.  It isn't that way all the time.  There's a livestock association, and I think they are gonna get some corrections made in it.  It's just a matter of how you interpret the law, and are you willing to make it work, or able to enforce it.

TRAV:  Did you feel pretty supported as farmers, in your community, and from government?

DON:  Oh...yeah...I've had some government programs and they've been alright.  Last year, about this time, we did a creek project, where the creek had been cuttin' into the bank, crowdin' it, and taking good field dirt, and they had a program for creek bank stabilization.  That was a funny thing.  Brought a guy in with a big loader.  He went up on the hill in that pasture and there was a row of rimrock.  He went up and started rooting those things out and they 'bout the size of that TV.  He had to bust 'em up some, but he drug the dirt back and spread some out in the field and sloped the bank.  And then every so far, 'bout from here to the TV, they put in a layer of rock, which runs from the bottom of the creek, up the bank, clear to the top, and it would be about 6 foot wide, and put some dirt around it.  We seeded with grass, and this spring plant some trees in it.

TRAV:  What do you think that the role of the farmer should be in society?

DON:  In society?  Well...a farmer's not very society-minded in the first place!  I think they're getting organized all the time a little better, but they're getting organized commodity by commodity, like soybeans, corn, wheat, cattle, hogs...but when something important comes up in Washington that they feel is wrong they all jump in and send representatives.  So, what i'm getting at, I guess, is they're coordinating their activities better than they used to.  It used to be, "well I'm a soybean farmer, the heck with everybody else!"    They finally figured out it don't work that way.  You got to unite and you have to do that to be effective.  It's a numbers game, and I'm not a politician.  I never had an office of any kind.  'Course in the last few years I've listened...I'm a CNN fella, I watch quite a little bit and they get into all the nuts and bolts of stuff.

I've been in the Cattlemen's Association and so forth in recent years.

DORIS:  Rural people never were accepted socially in the past the way they are now.  I think maybe town people come envy the farmers some of the time.  Just like this couple that bought our house, they couldn't wait to get out in the country!

DON: {laughs} Hell, we went out the back door and they come in the front door!  We got out one day and they were movin' in the next morning.

KACY:  And what was it like when rural people weren't as accepted?

DORIS:  I think...well, Don and I both grew up during the Depression.  We were talking about this the other day, what we did for entertainment was in our own community.  I grew up in a house that had big rooms, one right after the other...well they wanted to come there for dances!  And they'd square dance!  And they'd go down the road to another farmer's house and have a square dance.  And then, they had what they called a card club, and they played, no, no, they played...Pitch!  Went from house to house, and it was called the Midnight Owls.  You see they played till midnight.  You see farm people, they just kind of flocked together when I was little.

Now somedays we go to town, we get interested in what the school's doing and so forth.  It isn't like that anymore.  And farm people probably have more income than a lot of people do in town.  They may not show it, but it's back there.

DON:  When I was a kid, you know, a country boy was a clodhopper.  Well, you know, that's kind of what town kids thought about us.  I think that's changed.  Main Street in this little town, they'd have to shut the doors if ever the farmers quit 'em.

TRAV:  So what are you going to do now that you live in town?

DORIS:  {laughs}  Well, you know...we'll look at the clock!  What time is it?  Oh, I thought it was later than that!  {laughs}

(Story about Bloody Bill and the Santa Fe Trail)

TRAV:  Do you feel like farmers appreciated by people who are not farmers?

DON:  Well, I think moreso than it used to be.  You see, when I was a kid, about two and a half or three percent of the population were farmers.  Then it got down to two.  Then it got down to one and a half.  But the farmers got bigger, of course.  And as that transition happened, the people in town began to realize that the farmer had some importance in the community.  I don't know what else to say about it.

TRAV:  Did a lot of the farmers around you get out of it over the years?

DON:  Well, they did 'bout like I done.  They got to where they had to quit.  We've got, on down Four Mile Creek a fellow's selling his grandfather's place.  He runs a cow herd of a couple hundred cows.  The cow business had kind of reduced.  I don't know just what all has caused it.

As some old codger like me quits, nobody else wants to pick it up, apparently.  There's a concern right now with people in agriculture, and the cattle industry, how we gonna keep these numbers up?  Instead of exporting beef we might turn around, be importing it!

TRAV:  I was wondering if you were seeing any younger folks getting interested around here.

DON:  Well there's some, but not a lot.  Take a guy 45 years old's considered a young farmers around here anymore.  There's a few younger, but it's gonna the old song goes, "How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm"?  The investment is so terrific, and unless they can inherit something, a foundation to build onto, it's pretty tough.  However, with this depression we've had, they are coming up with some beginning farmer services that they didn't have before.  They're just starting to get 'em out.

There was a time after World War II, the GIs come home, tey could get a loan and start up farmin', just easy as could be if they wanted it.  And a lot of them did start.  I'll tell you what messed it up.  Here about 10, 15 years ago the interest rates went through the roof and that pretty well stopped all this startin' up, cause the interest was killing 'em...if they could get the money.  Equipment is so big anymore...

I feel like the government's gonna come in and set up some programs for first-time farmers.  That's just what I hear, I don't know.

TRAV:  Well, overall, are you happy?

DON:  Oh, well yeah.  I was happy out there...I was semi retired out there, running some cattle.  Somebody asked me how come I quit handling cattle.

I said, when it got to where I couldn't tell a cow from a horse, I though it was time to quit!

TRAV: Doris, same question for you, are you happy?

DORIS:  Well I guess.  Maybe I don't know what unhappy really is.


Anonymous said...

This was so interesting. My husband was born a Cress and I'm sure Don & Doris are relatives somehow, someway. I was wondering if the Cress ranch we ran across between Council Grove and Cottonwood Falls was still in operation and if a Cress still lived there. We stopped and took my husband Verlon's picture under the sign.

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