Way back when our kids were growing up the Holly Sugar Factory still operated here and farmers in the area grew sugar beets for a cash crop. Not only did they grow the beets, but the factory hired many farmers to help process the beets into sugar. The job was a very welcome thing—fall and winter (sometimes until March) employment. Right during the time many farmers had to be very careful with their money.
Farming gives you ONE paycheck a year…yes, one per crop you grow. This is the money that a farm family lives on and uses to purchase all the necessities, pay the taxes, and pay the huge irrigation bill plus to start and continue farming until the crop ‘comes in and is sold’.
If you know what a once a month paycheck is like to stretch – try a once a year paycheck! Then get all your expenses out to start your business all over again in the spring and carry you over until the crop is sold. Sure can be hard at times.
Holly Sugar was a great and wonderful thing for ‘tiding’ a farm family over—not only did they buy your crop … paid on the sugar content of your beet…poor beets poor paycheck…rich in sugar beets really nice paycheck. They hired four shifts of men and sometimes women for certain jobs. The pay was always very welcome…you work you get paid.
Holly Sugar left town in the 70’s. It was sad for everyone.
Sugar Beet harvest always started in October giving the beets a chance to get cold so the sugar content in the beets would rise. Many times the harvest happened in wet, frozen, turned to mud fields. Right along side the corn harvest and the apple harvest and the turning of the leaves.
This is the way our local farmers used to bring their sugar beets to market. This photo shows a line-up of wagons loaded with beets waiting their turn to dump their load at the Delta beet dump. Beets were dumped directly into open rail cars prior to 1921, and after the factory was built in Delta, they were dumped at the factory site where they were transferred mechanically to the processing at the facility.
My sweet corn is ready for picking so I’m off to start my tiny harvest of sweet corn. When winter comes we will enjoy rich, golden, sweet, sweet corn once in awhile. A small delicious reminder of summer.
Have a good one my friends!