North Platte, Nebraska
Today I’m thinking about the men that came before me. My father’s father was Frank Orr. He grew up raising and breaking horses up by Hay Springs. Dad always said Grandpa was at the snubbing post at age 14. He enlisted and trained for Korea. When he got out, he found a new place that he liked: Paxton, Nebraska. He was a wheat farmer south of Paxton. He built his main farming tractor out of military surplus. He designed and built most of what he needed. He and Dad built an amphibious tractor. I have a Massey Harris Pony that he repowered with a two cylinder air cooled diesel generator set.
My mother’s father was Boss Waechter. He started the place we farm now from scratch. He hand-husked a lot of corn with a team of horses and a side board. Then onto two cylinder John Deeres and eventually 40 series John Deeres that he bought brand new and we still use every day. He got in on the age of land leveling and set up all the fields for gravity irrigation. He set millions of irrigation tubes I’m sure, as did the hired hands.
My own father is Jeff Orr. He built up the farm and the cow herd in the farm crisis of the ‘80s. He ran the cows until I was old enough to take over. He raised a couple of pretty OK kids. He takes care of the farming end every day, does all the planting, spraying, side dressing, combining, and so on. So these are all pretty big shoes to fill, but then again, I have pretty big feet.
It is very dry here in the valley. Almost as complete opposite as you can get from last year. Some of the alfalfa decided it didn’t want to come back for a second cutting. We are flooding the fields as quickly as possible. Some places have gone dormant but will come back as soon as we get water to it. The corn is ditched and looks really good. We can start irrigating at the end of this week. The grass up in the hills and the cows look excellent. We have been catching rain up in the hills where we really need it. I feel like we can take a breather. Me and the hired man might just head up to Sheridan, Wyoming and visit an old and dear friend. About time to see some new country. — Paul Orr