Monday, November 19, 2012

Jack Rabbits

I wrote this back in late September or early October, I was waiting to find that perfect picture to accompany it and with the chaos of fall farm work; wheat seeding along with harvesting corn, soybeans and grain sorghum this got put on the back burner. I was inspired to post it while watching Ken Burn's Dust Bowl, this isn't about the dust bowl but it does include a story passed to me from my Granddad.

The other day my youngest son was riding in the tractor with me when I was seeding wheat. He had became bored with it after about an hour, he turns seven in a couple of weeks but thinks he is ready to drive tractors,  when we spotted a couple of Jack Rabbits in the field right before he left. He thought it was so cool to watch them run across the field. It's not uncommon to see wildlife coyotes, pheasants, deer, and hawks are common which I consider a perk of the farming profession.

This reminded me of a story my granddad tells of the first time they tried raising soybeans. I think he said it was back in the 50's and his dad, my great granddad, brought seed back from Iowa. He had seen it growing in Iowa when he had gone to visit family, my family originally settled in northwest Iowa. They planted it to be hayed to feed cattle the next winter. I don't remember him telling me how big it had gotten, but the Jack Rabbits mowed it to the ground and that was the last soybeans they tried raising until the 70's.

This story struck me as odd because it is so rare to see a Jack Rabbits now, but to have enough of them to do damage. I've heard stories from him and other old timers about how horribly over populated Jack Rabbits were then. I had heard stories about farmers having Jack Rabbit roundups, poisoning them and other mass eradication methods.

I seem to see Prairie Chickens in the same fields as I see Jacks. There are only 5 or 6 fields, I think part of the reason why some of these native animals are common in these particular fields is because of how few and far away trees are and how close virgin prairie is to them. Leaving the stubble from the previous crop, particularly wheat stubble, and allowing weeds to get some growth when there isn't a crop growing might mimic some aspects of a prairie.

No comments: