In the early days of farming, when everyone was doing their plowing with mules, a
farmer always prided himself on having a straight row. You could stand at the end of his
field and look down the row of grain, cotton or whatever, and the rows were perfectly
After the dust bowl days of the 1930’s the soil conservation districts were established and
the farmers were shown how to terrace their land to prevent erosion and contour farming
was established, doing away with the straight rows.
In the early twentieth century a young new landowner moved into the community and
started farming a large section of land. It was apparent that this was his first try at
farming as the rows in his field were not very straight.
One day while visiting with a neighboring farmer, the young man asked how he got his
rows plowed so straight.
“It’s easy,” said the old farmer. “You pick out an object at the opposite end of the field
from where you start, such as a tree or fence post, line it up between your mules ears and
go straight to it.”
“I think I will try that,” said the young man. He thanked the farmer and left.
The next week on his way to town the old farmer passed the young man’s field. He
looked at the field to see if the young man had taken his advice on plowing a straight
row. Instead of being straight, each row curved to the right, just like a rainbow.
Upon seeing the young man in town, the farmer asked him about the curve in his rows.
“I followed your advice,” the young man said. “When I started I spotted a cow in the
pasture at the opposite end of the field. I lined her up between my mules ears and
plowed straight to her and that is the way the row turned out.”
The old farmer laughed, and said, “The cow you spotted to line up with was grazing in
the pasture and moving forward as she grazed. You just followed her movement is what
made the curve in your rows. You need to line up with something that doesn’t move.”
Of course, some people did not care about plowing a straight row, saying they could grow
more on a crooked row than a straight one.