What is in this article?:
- At 98, Elmo Snelling has no desire to retire from cotton farming
- Back to FiberMax
- Worked way through college
- Cotton still presents challenges
• Elmo Snelling has seen a lot in his 98 years.
• He has plowed with horses, flown an airplane and two years ago installed drip irrigation on his farm in Hale County, Texas.
• He’s still on the farm every day, but doesn’t work as many acres as he once did.
AT 98, Elmo Snelling remains active on his Hale County, Texas, farm. He’s preparing to put in his 67th crop. “I’ll plant cotton at least one more year,” he says.
Cotton still presents challenges
Cotton still presents challenges but the process is “vastly different from when we had to take the cotton to the gin and wait to drive it in. We were responsible for the cotton, even at night, until we got it loaded.
“Things have changed a lot from pulling cotton to the way we harvest and manage it now. I never did pull much cotton. I don’t think I would have made a very good living at it, but I have weighed many a sack of cotton.”
He’s always stayed busy and involved.
He was one of the first presidents of the Hale County Farm Bureau and recalls being courted by the upstart Farmers’ Union to change allegiance. He says he had taken on a responsibility with Farm Bureau and would not have been comfortable leaving for another organization.
He’s also restored several old tractors and various pieces of farm machinery over the years. He has the first turning plow he ever owned, restored, in his front yard.
“I had to cut roots out of the wheels to move it,” he says. He has restored a John Deere tractor that “had a tree growing through it. I had to cut the tree and then move the tractor.”
Snelling has many other tractors, implements and two old cars, one a Cadillac, either in his barns or around the farm yard in various stages of restoration or disrepair. One steel-wheeled tractor dates back to the 1920s. “I’ll never do anything with that one,” he says.
He pointed out another John Deere, 1940s era tractor that is mostly restored, but parked in a shed and surrounded by other implements, parts, boxes and other memorabilia. “That tractor will never move from here,” he says.
His “every day” tractor is a 1980 Allis Chalmers with a restored Cummings diesel engine. He expects to make another cotton crop with it.
Elmo Snelling makes no predictions about making a crop in 2013. He has yield goals, but understands the vagaries of weather and other elements beyond his control. “I’ll plant a crop this year,” he says and laughs. “I’ll do something, even if I do it wrong. I plan to make cotton and plant the pivot corners.
“I may not plant that one dry corner if it doesn’t rain, but might let it go to summer fallow or plant some soil-building, dryland crop.”
Farming “is still a challenge,” he says. “But I will continue to do the best I can.”
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