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Laura Ingalls Wilder

Pioneering Journeys of the Ingalls Family
Montgomery County, Kansas
Farming on the Prairie

Return to Mongomery County

Pa traded furs for seed potatoes and seeds for garden vegetables, turnips, carrots, onions and cabbage. He also traded for a new plow. In order to plow up the tough prairie sod, Pa needed a breaking plow. The mustangs, Pet and Patty, had to work hard to pull the new plow through the thick roots of the prairie grasses. Sometimes Pa had to chop the grass with an ax before the plow could pass through.

two breaking plows

Two breaking plows
--Photo courtesy of Living History Farms, 2600 111 th Street, Urbandale, IA 50322 http://www.livinghistoryfarms.org


Prairie fires were a danger to settlers on the Great Plains . To protect their homes during prairie fires, pioneers plowed furrows and started backfires. When a prairie fire threatened the Ingalls family, Pa only had time to plow one furrow. The fire was burning faster then the horses could run. Laura saw the entire prairie hopping with rabbits, prairie chickens and snakes trying to escape the fire. Pa started a backfire along the furrow, and he and Ma beat at the flames with wet sacks. The fire had just missed their cabin.

A man plowing a firebreak
A man plowing a firebreak
--Courtesy of the State Historical Society of Iowa, 402 Iowa Avenue , Iowa City , IA 52240 http://www.iowahistory.org


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