OCR Interpretation


Montana farmer-stockman. [volume] (Great Falls, Mont.) 1947-1993, July 01, 1957, Image 10

Image and text provided by Montana Historical Society; Helena, MT

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86075096/1957-07-01/ed-1/seq-10/

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GRAIN
BINS
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MASTER - CRAFTED BY
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LU MB IAN
SINCE 1893
For safer, better storage of your grain, it pays to get the famous
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For 1957 crops, Columbian, makers of the original steel bin, have
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I if Sidewall sheets and roof plates precision
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idf Galvanized door frame factory assembled
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★ Side sheets sealed to door frame with
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if Sealing strips for all laps and
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★ Steel-backed neoprene washers, self-sealing,
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Other Columbian features include asphalt
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Big, 28-inch scoop box is extra and optional
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snow
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I
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COLUMBIAN STEEL TANK CO.
P.O. Box Q4048
mass
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fmf.OM,
PUT A
$ "
1
ON YOUR COMBINE
Indispensable for custom
combines, owners, tenants,
landlords. Saves hauling,
weighing. Checks extra
yield of fertilized fields.
Fits practically all makes
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Wsciav.-'ITini
ON SEED CLEANERS
Shows exact proportion of
weed seed, etc. Ideal for
exact measuring when seed
testing.
ON FEED BINS AND
WAGON MIXERS
Measures grain from bins
to feed grinder or wagon
mixer Measures and saves
grcund mixed feeds. Elim
inates guesswork on feed
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Measures Grain Accurately
(By Weight or Volume)
WRITE FOR NAME OF YOUR DEALER — DEALER INQUIRIES INVITED
FERRIS-KIILION IMPLEMENT GO.
DISTRIBUTOR
Uf Central Avenue West
Great Falls, Montana
10—July 1, 1957
Managing Farm and Ranch
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By MONT SAVNDERSON
THIS ITEM IS the fourth of a cur
rent series, in this column, dealing
with the land and water use and with
the ranch and farm economics in the
principal ranching and farming areas
of Montana and of northern Wyoming.
In this fourth item of the series, we
examine the land uses and the ranch
and farm operations of the Montana
area long known as the "Triangle."
To most people acquainted with Mon
tana farming and ranching, the "Tri
angle" means the area encompassed
by lines from Great Falls northwest
to Shelby, from Sheiby eastward to
Havre, and from Havre southwestward
to Great Falls.
For the purposes of our analysis in
this article, we will say that the area
extends a bit more to the west, to the
Northern Rocky Mountains, and north
ward to the Canadian line. In re
sources and in land uses, these addi
tions to the usual concept of the area
are quite logical.
Productive Area
This area is a big one. It also is a
very productive area in Montana fann
ing and ranching. In it we see great
expanses of prairie land wheat farm
ing, a belt of excellent foothill ranch
country on the west side, and several
successful irrigation farming develop
ments in the upper drainages of the
Sun, the Teton and the Marias rivers.
Though the western belt of ranch
ing country is from 20 to 30 miles in
width, by far the largest part of the
area consists of prairie lands, level
to undulating. This part of Montana
has been strongly glaciated in compara
tively recent times, geologically speak
ing. The resulting landform is the
smooth glacial plain that we now see
in most of.this area.
These plains, now drained by the
Marias, the Milk and the Teton river,
principally, are broken only by the
main stream drainages and by the
Sweet Grass Hills uplift along the
Canadian border.
3 Million Crop Acres
This large area contains some five
million acres of land. Of this,
three million acres are now in crop
agriculture. A comparatively small
part of this total cropland acreage is
irrigated. Though there are localized
parts of the prairie country used for
stock ranching, most of the ranching
country of the area is in the foothills
and roughlands between the prairie
and the eastern border of the Lewis
and Clark national forest.
Used principally for stock ranching,
too, is the locality of the Sweet Grass
Hills. These are not extensive. Their
total area is about 125,000 acres.
Now in our look at the lands and the
farms and ranches of the area we will
start with the west side, the ranch
ing country. Most of this lies to the
west of the U.S. Highway 89, including
roughly the western half of the Black
feet Indian reservation. In this ranch
ing country the ranch locations nestle
in the broad and flat alluvial valleys
of the streams.
Now, the valleys and flood plains
of the streams seem much too big for
the size of the stream, but we must
remember that in the glacial epochs
some
of the past these rivers, such as the
Teton, carried enormous volumes of
water. Now, these valleys afford bot
tomlands for the ranch hay meadows
and winter shelter for the livestock.
Successful Ranching Country
In a first look at this ranching coun
try, rather high in elevation and a
"North country" in latitude, one might
think of it as a rather forbidding one
for year around ranching operations.
That it has proven to be a very success
ful ranching country is due to an un
usual combination of the natural re
source factors.
One of these is the dependability of
winter winds that sw'eep down from the
Rockies. This may seem strange, but
the winds may be depended upon to
clear the snow from some of the rough
terrain of the rangelands, yet there
are always sheltered locations in the
hills and valleys where the stock may
escape the wind. Sometimes the winds
are of the Chinook type that may re
move much of the snow cover.
All this means that with good man
agement of the rangelands there is good
and dependable winter grazing on the
hill bunchgrass. Because of this, full
development of the hay meadow' pro
duction of the stream bottoms hasn't
been necessary. This all makes for a
favorable situation of productive yet
low r -cost ranching.
Land of Big Farms
Eastward from the foothill country
of the ranching, the prairie lands of
the "Triangle" stretch endlessly to the
far horizon. This is a land naturally
suited for big farms, large-scale equip
ment and people with "know how,"
From the time when the land was
homesteaded and at first farmed in 160
acre units, this area has come a long
way in the needed reorganization and
change. These farms, with their mech
anization and specialization, do not as
a rule maintain much in livestock.
There are of course exceptions to this.
Some of the farms near the stream
breaks may combine cattle ranching
with wheat farming, and otherwise the
farm herds of beef cattle are not un
common. However, with so much of
the prairie land in wheat, the prairie
part of the area lacks summer graz
ing. There is, too, the problem of
natural shelter in the prairies.
Strip Farming
Alternate crop and fallow "strip"
farming is now universal in this area.
Soil blowing and the rather limited
precipitation make these a require
ment. The average annual precipita
tion of the plains of the Marias is
about 12 inches. For the plains of the
Milk river, this is around 14 inches.
Such precipitations as these would
not sustain crop agriculture were it not
for the fact that three-fourths of the
moisture comes during the growing
season months, April through Septem
ber.
At times in the past, the problems
of adapted land uses and of farm opera
tions have been trying. Now, the ex
perienced farm operators face the fu
ture with confidence. They feel that
they now have the design for success
and stability anc that they foresee the
ways to future progress.

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