Cash for Cows

During the early 30’s there were no buyers for livestock. President Roosevelt had this idea that if cattle and hogs were destroyed reducing the numbers, the price of those commodities would rise. The county agent would pay $2.00 per head to the farmers for allowing their livestock to be slaughtered. Trenches were dug and the government men would drive the animals in, shoot them in the trenches and then bulldoze dirt over the dead animals. If this sounds similar to a recent government program, it had about the same result.

I have a haunting black and white picture of my father, his brother Lester, and their parents after the government slaughter at the Bowles’ Ranch. They all appeared to be in a state of shock. It had to be a terrible experience for everyone. Little is said in the history books as it was a subject that rural families did not want to remember nor city dwellers were aware of. Had this history been known to the present administration, they might have had second thoughts about cash for clunkers and other recent government giveaways.

After the herd was culled, the ranch had a few head of cattle and lots of sheep. Wool prices were so low it wasn’t worth shearing or dipping the sheep. There being no market for sheep, they just existed on the ranches like the deer and multiplied. Similar to the emu market a few years ago, you just kind of hoped they would go away.

In an upcoming post, I will tell a humorous story about how Granddad Bowles got the worthless sheep off his ranch.

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