Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Clinton County

"After the Revolutionary War, thousands of acres of land were given to the victorious American soldiers as payment for their services to their new country.

The early settlers of Clinton County left the relative comforts found between the Atlantic shore and the eastern slopes of the Smoky Mountains, and ventured into the wilderness of southwest Ohio for one basic reason ... to settle the frontier. That meant clearing the land and farming.

Agriculture in the frontier of the late 1700s meant clearing land, planting a crop and harvesting the fruits of labor. The following year, they would clear more land and plant more crops. They came here to be farmers. That is what drew them to Clinton County. It was not an easy life. It was anything but easy.

It is said that when Ohio was still a wild frontier, a squirrel could easily travel from the Ohio River to Lake Erie without ever touching the ground. Trees covered almost all of the state. There was very little open land that was suitable for farming.

When you drive through the Clinton County countryside today and see a stand of trees, it is usually square. At some point in the past, Clinton County was almost all tree-covered. Over a period of time, all the land around the tree-lots had to be cleared for farming - leaving square tree-lots.

Our early farmers, the settlers of this community, never cleared all the land they owned. They knew they would always need a ready, reliable supply of wood for heat and building, so they always kept a stand of trees; thus, the numerous square-stands of trees that have survived to this day.

Almost everything else became farmland. Acre by acre, the early settlers of Clinton County cleared the land and began planting crops. Trees were either cut down or they were girdled.

To girdle a tree, the farmer would cut a deep groove through the bark all around the base of the tree. They usually did this in the spring. The girdle stopped the flow of tree sap; killing the tree.

Within a season or two, the tree was usually still standing, but it was completely dead and ready to be cut for firewood, planks or fencing.

After clearing a small amount of land, the initial harvest was small, but it was enough to allow the settlers to survive, clear more land, plant more crops, feed their families and continue farming; settling the frontier that eventually became Ohio and Clinton County."

My ancestors didn't quite make it Clinton County but I did 200 years later.  They settled near Sugar Tree Ridge, 25 miles south of here.  I wonder what those early settlers would think of my friend's 274 bu corn average on one of those cleared fields!  We only talk about dry bushels here but that's over 300 wet bushels if you feed or have other uses for high moisture corn!

How did he do this?  Gypsum and soft rock phosphate or CalPhos from Florida was a key part of increasing the Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen that helped the 17 know plant nutrients work.  The RL-37 he has been spraying didn't hurt anything, he is getting close to Non Detectable on a glyphosate test.  It's working the pants of his red combine, we tease our Deere neighbors they couldn't handle it.

The pictures are from Keith's Field Day, I wonder if he will get another 20 bushels out of it in Iowa?  That's the hybrid in the bottom picture.

Clinton County has changed a bunch in 200 years and so must the way we farm.

Ed Winkle

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