Archive for the ‘Farm life’ Category


Deadly Disease Attacks Cattle

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: Aug. 5 1904

Deadly Disease Attacks Cattle

Cows Near Lehigh are Victims of Strange Disease Which Kills

Five Herds Already Attacked

Farmers in Vicinity of Lehigh and Homer are Badly Frightened Over Appearance of Apparently Incombatible (sic) Disease Which Proves Fatal

The cattle in the vicinity of Lehigh and east about Homer have been attacked by a most peculiar disease that is baffling the veterinaries of the vicinity, and causing considerable loss to the farmers, who are much alarmed over the situation and fear a general spread of the disease. Five different farmers about Lehigh and Homer have lost cattle with the disease already.

The Malady Proves Fatal

The malady in nearly every instance had proven fatal and the people of the vicinity have no idea of the treatment of it. The first symptom, where milch cows are attacked is generally the caking of the bag. A little later the afflicted animal begins to stiffen in the hips and back, and staggers as she walks. Death almost always follows these symptoms closely.

Veterinaries Puzzled

Veterinaries have been called from Fort Dodge, but so far they have been able to give no satisfactory explanation of the disease. Whether it is some variety os smut or some new weed the animals are getting this season that acts on them are now known, but it is more probable they are the victims of some new disease.

Precautions Taken to Prevent Spreading

Every precaution is being taken by the farmers in whose herds the disease has appeared to prevent its spread. Among the several farmers who have lost cattle from the malady so far are F.L. Spencer, living three miles north of Lehigh and Ashberry Johnson, whose home is located near Homer in the eastern edge of Hamilton county. (Editor’s note: Homer was located within Webster County.)

County Has Been Free From Disease

The county has been unusually free form diseases of all kinds so far this season, as far as farm animals have been concerned until within the past month. Within the past four weeks, however, a number of maladies have made their appearance both among horses and cattle.


Strange Disease Attacks Calves

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: Aug. 3, 1904

Strange Disease Attacks Calves

Makes Its Appearance at Willow Edge Farm with Fatal Effects.

Ten Die in Herd of Seventeen

Disease Showed Itself Only a Few Days Ag — All Possible is Being Done for the Afflicted Animals and Every Precaution is Taken

A peculiar disease has broken out among the calves at the L.S. Coffin farm and is sweeping the animals off with terrible rapidity. Out of a herd of seventeen calves confined by themselves, ten are already reported dead and the most of the others are sick.

The disease made its appearance only a few days ago, but soon showed the serious nature int he  havoc it wrought among the calves it had attacked. The disease is an intestinal affection (Note: should be affliction?), and the animal attacked does not last long after the malady makes itself known. The veterinaries of the city who have been called on the case, have not as yet decided on the nature of it, but every precaution is being taken to keep it from spreading to other herds on the farm.


Choice Delicacies in the Market

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: June 11, 1904

Choice Delicacies in the Market

Home Grown Vegetables are Increasing Supply in the Groceries

Berries to Come From West

No Changes in the Live Stock and Grain Markets Since Last Week

The markets are but little changed this week. Vegetables are about the same in kind, quality and price. Home grown beet green and spinach add the only variety this week and both are welcomed with enthusiasm by the housewife who is planning a Sunday dinner. The shipping of vegetables from the south is pretty nearly shut off by the incoming  of the home grown truck. The new potatoes, new string beans, new cabbages, of course are coming from the south as yet, but even their time is not short, as all these with the exception of cabbage will soon be supplied by local gardeners. New potatoes are expected by July 4th at the latest by local gardeners and string beans will be in evidence in two weeks at the latest.

In fruits there is also little change. The first scrawny little peaches are beginning to show themselves and strawberries will climb up again next week from three for a quarter to 10 cents straight at least. The Missouri crop is exhausted and that state will cease to ship. All berries next week will come from the Hood river district in Idaho and from Colorado. Fort Dodge has received its last full car shipment for this season. All shipments will come in local from Omaha and the freight rates being thus made higher, the berries are bound to go up in prices. The home grown berries are reported to be ripening. It is expected they will come on the market the latter part of next week. All other fruit remain the same.

Live Stock and Grain.

Stock and grain markets show no changes this week with the exception of chickens, which have dropped a cent a pound, selling now for 7 cents to 9 cents a pound ($1.68 to $2.16 per pound today).

The markets are as follows:

Market item 1904 price Adjusted for inflation
Corn 60 cents $14.27
Oats 10 cents $2.39
Wheat 75 cents $17.96
Hay $5.50 to $6.00 $131.72 to $143.70
Hogs $4.10 to $4.25 $98.19 to $101.79
Cattle $3.00 to $3.25 $71.85 to $77.84
Chickens 7 to 9 cents $1.68 ro $2.16
Turkeys 10 to 12 cents $2.39 to $2.87

Gardening Done on a Large Scale

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Becker Florists at Frontier Days Parade 2012

Becker Florists is still in business. They run this truck every year in the Frontier Days Parade. This photo is from June 2, 2012.

The Fort Dodge Messenger: June 8, 1905

Gardening Done on a Large Scale

Becker Brothers Have Been in Business Since 1885.

Have Two Separate Gardens

Rich River Bottom Land Below Town Furnishes Several Crops a Year and Farm Land East of Town is Also Worked – Ups and Downs.

Let the amateur gardner (sic) walk west on First avenue south from Sixth street and down in the valley he will see a sight that will delight his eyes. Laying out in regular rows or planted in solid plots, are many kinds of vegetables. about a block of the rich river bottom land is used for truck farming and supplies many of the people of the city with vegetables.

This plot and a ninety acre farm are owned by the Becker brothers, Fred, John and Chris. John Becker tends to the garden on the flats and the other brothers to the farm, on which are raised more vegetables and the ordinary farm products. The ground on the flat is so rich that no attention is paid to the evolution of crop theory but the same kind of vegetable is sown repeatedly. In the farm east of town the land is not so rich, so that care in the planing of the vegetables is necessary.

The Becker brothers started operations in the year ’85 (1885) and have continued them in the same place ever since. The place has undergone some improvements, such as tearing down the extensive green houses and building hot beds instead, but beyond that and a few other changes, the place is just the same. All of the early vegetables are started about the fifth of February if the weather permits. If the weather does not permit at that time the gardeners are forced to wait until some time in March. The earlier the stuff is planted the better it is, of course, for the planter’s pocket book. The ground is plowed deep in the fall so as to let the frost get in the earth and pulverize it. As soon as the weather permits the plants are set out and the seed sown. The earliest stuff is planted in the ground on the flat and the late product in the ground east of the city. No fertilizer is needed as the ground is so rich that two or three crops are grown on this piece each year.

All of the products of these plots are sold to the stores, and not peddled from house to house. This selling to the stores reminded Mr. Becker of the uncertainty of the income obtained from the sale of the vegetables. He said: “one year in the middle of July I had nothing to do but sit around and smoke. The price of the early potatoes was twenty-five cents a bushel and we decided to sell our crop. We thot (sic) we had done quite well but when fall arrived potatoes were selling at eighty cents per bushel and we had lost a large sum of money. I remember of another time when we decided to hold our crop for higher prices. We did, and in the fall our potatoes sold at 23 cents a bushel and we lost again. So  you see that while the income is good some years, at the end of other seasons, even the weather thought the weather is fine we get little for our crop.”

(Editor’s note: In the quote from Mr. Becker, he refers to prices from different years. I used an inflation calculator, but since I didn’t know which years he was referring to, I used 1905. So 25 cents would be about $5.99, 80 cents would be about $19.16, and 23 cents would be about $5.51 – if he meant 1905. Since he was referring to previous years, the amounts would be higher.)


Profit For Tile Makers

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: March 25, 1904

Profit For Tile Makers

Results From Wet Seasons, Necessitating Drainage

Brick and Tile Plants In and Around Fort Dodge Begin Operations.

Most of the Fort Dodge brick and tile plants have begun operations and the season promises to be a good one for that business. The H.R. Bradshaw company’s plant started up a few days ago as did the Fort Dodge Clay Works. The Fort Dodge Brick & Tile company will begin manufacturing within a few days.

The brick and tile industry is becoming of increasing importance to the city. There are now from 150 to 200 men employed in this business in the different plants about Fort Dodge.

The business has been given a great impetus by the past two exceedingly wet years. The farmer has had the fact of drainage borne upon him, and this year will witness more laying of tile than has ever been seen in the state in a like period of time. Iowa land has become too valuable to allow of its being left under water and uncultivated. Many large system of drainage have been planned for the coming year, and all the plants in the state will be kept busy.


W. Jorgensen’s Spring Chickens

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: Feb. 26, 1903

W. Jorgensen’s Spring Chickens

Fort Dodge Man Has  Novel Record to Live Up to Each Year

Chickens First on Market

For Several Years, Including This One, He Has Had Brood by Washington’s Birthday

A W. Jorgensen, of this city, holds a record in the matter of spring chickens. For years past, it is Mr. Jorgensen’s proud boast that his spring chickens have been the first on the market. It is one of the events of his year when his first brood of chickens open their eyes upon a frosty world, just a little ahead of every one else’s.

For several years past, Mr. Jorsensen has had a brood of chickens hatched out before Washington’s birthday and this year was no exception, altho it was a close shave. It was only the day before that historic date that thirteen fluffy yellow balls crept out of their shells into the light of day, but they appeared and now bid fair to rank well with the other Jorgensen chickens.

Mr. Jorgensen scorns the use of the incubator. His chickens are all the product of the faithful efforts of the mother hen, who hatches them out in the orthodox manner which was in vogue when incubators were still incubating in the minds (sic) of the inventor.


Amassing Fortune Raising of Skunks

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: Feb. 14, 1905

Amassing Fortune Raising of Skunks

John Lucas, of Lake City, Has Chosen a Peculiar Business

He Runs a Regular Farm

The Pelts are Valuable And Are Shipped to The Cities For Fur Garments – Has About three Hundred of The Animals in Prime Condition

Lake City, Feb. 14. – John Lucas, who lives a mile west of Lake City, is slowing amassing a small fortune by breeding and selling skunks.For the last three years the business has been thriving and the quality of the hides is first class. Lucas has an option on two acres of rough ground and was first attracted to his novel occupation by observing the numerous holes these animals had dug in the banks. This gave him an idea. He had the lace fence by strong galvanized wire netting five feet above ground and two feet under ground and let the animals breed without disturbance. The nature of the tract of land is naturally a home of these small animals, as it is bluffy, along a small creek and covered with a heavy growth of hazelnut bushes. Long grass is common,a nd it is let grow. Thus the roots of the bushes furnish feed and the grass is the home of many mice and other rodents and numerous insects, on which the fur bearing animals live.

There were some three hundred animals in prime condition for fur this season. The harvest is a matter of small import. Mr. Lucas has arranged an enclosure of wire in the center of the large field and when he wants to sell a few hides he puts some kind of attractive bait in the small enclosure. Peculiar holes in the netting readily admit the skunks but a clever device as readily prevents all exit. The feat of the killing is merely selection and a small club. The pelts are largely shipped to Sioux City and Minneapolis, Mr. Lucas receiving good prices for them.

The proprietor of this novel farm has been able in this time to select prime animals for stock and is now raising but pure black skunks, though occasionally a striped one appears. Artificial feeding has been found to make the quality of the pelts better and so roots of various kinds are raised for the consumption of the detestible (sic) little animals.


The Ten Commandments

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: Feb. 7, 1907

The Ten Commandments

As Revised and Re-Written by the Farmers at Jolley.

At the farmer’s elevator company meeting in Jolley this week the ten commandments, revised to apply to the co-operative elevator and grain business were read to the assemblage as follows:


Thou shalt join the farmers elevator and have no trust elevators before it.


The annual barbecue thereof shalt thou attend and eat of the roast ox that thou may live long and prosper on the farm.


Thou shalt not help they neighbor who patronizes false elevators.


Thou shalt not suffer they grain to be put in a dice box, nor on the camels back, for is it not written that the dice box is a gambling device and that it is hard for a camel to enter the eye of a needle?


Thou shalt build all the roads to lead to the Farmers Elevator and when they work is done and thy journey ended, they goods deeds will be placed upon the high shelf of honesty.


Thou shalt not sell they share in the Farmers Elevator at the rise of every little provocation as is it not written in the book of experience that there are ups and downs in every vocation of life.


Thou shalt draw the line and head your horses toward reciprocal demurrage.


Thou shalt do all in thy power to assist in a work to overcome the car famine that they grain may be moved with greater rapidity.


Thou shalt no longer be pin heads but spikes driven into the hides of the grain trust and their hirelings.


Thou shalt not lay these commandments upon the shelf where the trust elevator may cover them with dust and the moth eat them.


Wolves Bother the Farmers

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: Jan. 31, 1906

Wolves Bother the Farmers

Two Large Wolves Come Into Yard on the Dean Farm

Attack Big House Dog and Are Driven Away Only When Farmer Appears With a Club

Although people have for some time believed that the wolf race had been exterminated as far as Webster county was concerned, the farmers north of the city have been complaining of the depredations of two large wolves which have become very bold.

The animals are larger than a big dog and are usually ferocious. They have appeared several times at one farm. Monday night the two wolves entered the yard at the Dean farm and when attacked by the large h ouse dog they drove this animal back onto the front porch.

Mr. Dean heard the noise and when he appeared upon the scene the two wolves were up on the porch attempting to drag the big dog, now thoroughly subdued, off the steps. Mr. Dean picked up a club and finally drove the two animals away. Last night he armed himself with a rifle but the wolves failed to put in an appearance.

Fort Dodge sportsmen are considering the matter of getting up a wolf hunt as soon as snow falls.

(Editor’s note: As recently as five years ago, I was made aware that in fifth-grade Iowa history class, students are taught that wolves were extinct in Iowa before 1900.)

The Fort Dodge Messenger: Jan. 30, 1907

History of Iowa Farmers’ Co-operative Association

One of the most remarkable growths in Iowa business affairs during the past year has been the increase in the number of Iowa Farmers’ co-operative associations. The present annual meeting scheduled for Mason City nual (sic) meeting of this organization of Iowa farmers calls to mind some facts which the chronicles of the organization show. According to the report of the secretary at the last annual meeting there were exactly 104 societies in active operation in Iowa. Since that time there have been thirty-one new ones organized and more in process of organization. A million of dollars that have been subscribed by the tillers of the soil by mutual agreements is invested in the properties and business capital of these institution (sic).

What, but a few years ago, was the sneer and derision of the so-called orthodox grain men of this state is now a giant to which all dealers in the products of Iowa farmers are willing to bow. The history of this organization movement is unique. “A fair deal, stick together, pay your commissions, and when selling elsewhere look out for the weights.” There is no assessment of stockholders and in no case recorded in Iowa has any society experienced a deficit. This directors may borrow money with which to operate the business, but not above two-thirds of the paid in capital stocks. Over that amount, if money is obtained, it is secured through the individual guarantee of the directors and is in no sense an obligation to the society.

All farmers co-operative associations of the state are founded upon the theory that the farmer is enslaved to the grain buyers and that this method is his only emancipation. The fight for supremacy and for the lives of the societies in the different sections where they are located is kept ever fresh in the minds of the members each year. It is rehearsed as often as the association renews it vows. Each year the question is asked whether there is a desire to go back to the old method of selling the product of the farms but the answer always comes, “Go ahead, stick together and we will win.”

To keep the unfaithful in line a penalty is provided. If a member of the association sells his grain to an old-line elevator he is taxed 1/4 per cent commission. In a few instances over the state examples have been made of those who are catering to the “enemy” that have been salutary, and such offenses, if persisted in, usually mean banishment from the councils of the association and social ostracism. the culprit has often found it convenient to remove to some other locality.

Be it said to the good fortune of the co-operative organizations of Iowa that they are well managed and there has not yet been developed a single breach of business faithfulness on the part of any of its local managers and officers. In all cases, so far as can be learned, the management has been both shrewd and honest and has instantly refused to listen to any and all overtures from other concerns. Offers have been made by line companies to enter into an agreement with the association to fix the prices at local points but the temptation has in every case been spurned, the officers believing they detected some attempt to inveigle them into forfeiting their charter by unlawful combinations.

This danger –  mismanagement – was the rock the enemies and some of the friends, even, of the co-operative was sure the movement would strike before it went far, but happily, these have been avoided. Men have been content, even poor man (sic), to manage the local business, to receive the $800 ($18,476 today), $1,000 ($23,095) or $1,200 ($27,714) per year and a clear conscience rather than feather their nest and retire rich and despised. All of them seem to consider their positions in the nature of a public trust, and have acted accordingly. The individual society has no secrets. The books are open to its members or to any other persons who care to look into them. Even the meetings of the directors are open to any and all visitors. This stills any suspicious whisper that might be born of secret session or unpublished methods.

Wherever a farmers’ elevator has been established it has tended to increase the market price of grains from a half to one and a half cents per bushel. Many line companies seem able to pay this and live.

The state association is under the most careful supervision of an able corps of officers who give largely of their time to its interests. The management is divided into seven departments, the directorate, the executive, the claims, the legislative, the transportation, the arbitration and investigation and the grades. In each of these departments the special function is suggested by its name. They are made up of the leading farmers of the different communities where co-operation thrives. At present the most active men of the association are the secretary, C.G. Messerole, of Gowrie, Thomas McManus, of Doughtery, the father of the movement in Iowa, and a member of the arbitration and investigation committee, and Edward Dunn of Burchinal, the traveling representative. These men are in close touch with the situation in all parts of the state and their time is largely taken up in what they term missionary work.

The state association men, who are actively engaged in the work have laid down certain principles which they are endeavoring to follow:

First – To secure for all the farmers in the state a just and fair return for their labor.

Second – To put a stop to the blacklisting, boycotting, persecuting methods of the grain dealers’ association and all other trusts masquerading under the cloak of a trade organization.

Third – To bring about a closer relationship and better feeling between the legitimate business men and the producers.

Fourth – To make graft and thievery disreputable and bring about conditions in trade that will be possible for the business man and the producer to practice the golden rule in their dealings with one another.

Northern Iowa leads in the co-operative movement. Cerro Gordo county is the banner county, having nine organizations in active operation with one in the course of organization, making a total investment of about $150,000 ($3,464,245). Another stronghold for co-operative business is in the vicinity of Gowrie. Along the Great Western line for a number of miles from that place each way, each town has a society. The capital stock varies from $2,000 ($46,190) to $15,000 ($364,425) at the outset of the organization. Last year Rockwell transacted $365,000 ($8,429,663) worth of busienss (sic) and handled about 440,000 bushels of grain. Stanhope* in Webster county transacted last year a quarter of a million dollars worth of business. Rockford, Floyd county, handled over 300,000 bushels of grain and Dayton nearly twice as much. Britt in Hancock county handled from Sept. 1, 1905 to Nov. 1, 1905, the two months of operation, 110,000 bushels of grain. St. Ansgar, which is also a new society, organized within the last couple of weeks, has a capital stock of $15,000 ($364,425) but this society will handle live stock.

The cost of handling the business is small. Rockford did $624,000 ($14,411,259) of business in 1901 at an expense of 3/4 of 1 per cent or at a cost of about $4,000 ($92,380). It cost Gowrie to do $385,000 ($8,891,562) the same year $2,500 ($57,737). Another society with a $80,000 ($1,847,597) business did it at an expense of $1,800 ($41,471). It will be seen that the larger the volume of business the smaller the cost to operate.

These samples given only indicate what the other societies of the state are doing. All are practically doing the same kind of business and at the same rate of cost per the amount of stock invested. No society is allowed to organize with less than $2,000 ($6,190) worth of paid up stock.

(Editor’s note: Stanhope is in Hamilton County.)