With the arrival of the 1930s, corn was the main crop used by farmers. But the years during the Great Depression, rains ceased to fall. Corn at its tasseling stage couldn’t form ears. Much of the corn bent over and fell to the ground creating a critical shortage of both feed and cash crop money. Due to the critical shortage of roughage and grass, what little corn that was salvaged was very valuable.

Stories describing desperate circumstances were plentiful. For instance, after much looking, one lady found an entire field of corn that had not grown over two feet high. She purchased the corn for 15 cents a shock.

The government began to ask the farmers to save all the roughage they could, and to shock the corn instead of picking it. Many farmers used their teams to pull sleds and hauled it to the livestock as quickly as it was cut. Others, cut the corn with corn knives and made shocks. However, shocking the corn didn’t prove to be very successful because much of the shocked corn started to rot and become worthless. Much of the work was done in the evening when the temperature was cooler.

Later, the government asked farmers to plant grains such as winter wheat and rye for early spring pastures.

My grandfather, who was raised in Shelby County, MO, planted 40 acres of cane late in the season. Unfortunately, frost came before it matured. He used a corn binder to bind it and it was then put in shocks. Although it was of inferior quality, it was the only feed they had.

— researched and presented by Wilbur Bush, Gallatin, MO