Problems of farming on the Plains

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  • Problems of farming the Plains
    • Problems
      • Grasshopper plagues and other insect pests
      • Climate - hot summers and cold winters
      • Lack of water - very little surface water and very low rainfall
      • Prairie fires - dry grass burned easily
      • Thick sod - the soil was a tangled mass or grass roots
      • Lack of trees - very little timber for fencing/building
      • Weather - thunderstorms and violent winds
    • Dealing with lack of timber
      • The thick walls and roof were good insulation in winter
      • The earth walls and roof were fireproof giving protection from prairie fires
      • Sod houses were impossible to keep clean
      • Lack of wood for fencing - settlers had to pay a large amount of money to import timber to fence their claims
        • Made homesteading expensive until 1874 when barber wire was introduced as a cheap alternative to wooden fences
    • A tough environment
      • Crops that did well in the east shrivelled up and died from lack of water/eaten by insect swarms
      • Ploughs that worked in the east broke when farmers tried to use them to plough through the thick sod of the Plains
      • At first settle had to dig up the sod with spades, which was back breaking work

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