There aren’t a lot of farmers left in western
Nebraska who can give a fi rst-hand
account of trying to farm during the dust
bowl. Harold Pidgeon, a 92 year old farmer in
Deuel County remembers the “dirty thirties” well.
“Here in 1935 the dust would fi ll up the sky
and roll in and cover the fence line up to the top
barb,” Pidgeon said.
Having lived through such an ecological disaster
– what some still call the greatest environmental
disaster the United States has ever witnessed
– must have left a deep impression.
That may explain why Pidgeon has such a
passion for planting trees. During his lifetime he
has planted over 8,000 trees. That equals over
100 trees a year since the age of twenty.
Anita Nein, Resource Conservationist at the Chappell Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) fi eld
offi ce has worked with Pidgeon on his tree planting projects. Pidgeon has done tree plantings every two years,
mostly through the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program.
He has done a lot of hard, physical work to make sure those tree projects were successful by going back and
replacing the trees that don’t survive. He has done some replants almost every year according to Nein.
“Knowing how hard it is to do just 30 tree replants, I was impressed that someone 92 years old would come in
and order 500 trees to replant in just one year,” Nein said.
Maybe seeing how quickly things can change made Pidgeon want to do something for the land that would last
for generations. Pidgeon has planted a majority of the trees in his later years. Back in his twenties he was just
trying to make a living to support his family.
“There used to be a farm on each corner. Most of the farms are long gone. They couldn’t make it during the
dry years,” Pidgeon said.
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Deuel County Farmer Passionate about Planting Trees
By: Joanna Pope, Public Affairs Specialist
Joanna Pope, NRCS
Harold Pidgeon has planted over 8,000 trees across Deuel
County. At the age of 92, this averages out to over 100 trees
a year for