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The Dust Bowl - Livin' the Good Life

Nov. 19th, 2012

11:42 am - The Dust Bowl

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Last night we all gathered in the living room to watch the first part of Ken Burns' "The Dust Bowl" on PBS. It was the story of the terrible man-made disaster brought on in the '30s when farmers started farming in an unnatural way.... using tractors (a new invention) to turn ALL the soil over on the prairies to make massive plantings of wheat. The motivation was greed. They did it because they could, not because it was wise. The result was more than a decade of dust storms brought on by drought, wind, and uprooted soil. People lost their homes, their farms, and eventually their children. Little ones often fell victim to illnesses caused by the effects of constantly breathing the blowing dust. Very, very sad. I hope we never have to repeat this catastrophe in human history. But, human greed and ignorance can make people do terrible things. And without documentaries like these, or people old enough to have lived through these disasters in order to tell us younger folks about them, we are liable to make similar mistakes again.

I am very upset about the building practices here in the desert. Contractors flatten acres and acres of land, blading every bush and tree in sight, to put up new homes and buildings, and it's perfectly legal. Then, when the wind comes, it blows the sand across the desert, pitting windshields, ruining paint jobs, and changing the landscape as sand piles up everywhere. All those bushes and trees have taken a long, long time to grow. They help hold the soil in place. If you take them out and turn the soil over, you've disturbed the earth in a way that will take a century or more to get back to a normal, natural state. A healthy state. Again, greed is the reason contractors do this here. It's much cheaper to just grade the whole piece of land than to go around all the bushes and trees or just flatten the spot where the building is going to be ONLY... leaving everything else alone. They don't see the value in all these native plants that look dead half the time. But, those of us who know the desert, know that every plant is important, and if they look dead due to drought, they are so hardy that with the first good rain, they will spring vigorously to life. I have so much respect for the ecology of the desert.

Anyway, we watched Part One of the documentary last night, and tonight we will watch Part Two. Can't wait!
Here's a picture of Ollie who had fallen asleep during the show and Smokey snuggling up:
ollie smokey