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Pieter (Pete) van der Wal, Meadow (South Dakota)

Sjouke Johannes Hoogland, St. Annaparochie

Engelse vertaling
Naamloos document

Frisian letters 43.
P. van der Wal to the Hoogland family.

Meadow [South Dakota], November 2 1919,
Dear friend Hoogland and family,

It will surprise you to get a letter from us because it is a long time ago and people no longer take account with such inconveniences.
You must know( and most of the time it goes like this) that we got a lot of letters during the first time and of course we had a lot to answer but as it goes usually, writing starts to decrease and it happens that some of the relatives didn't write us for years and others write seldom, only Inge's [?] mother is holding on.
She must be very strong in spite of her age of 74 years old.
Well just like I told, we don't have to answer so many letters but nevertheless we often think of the things we have been through and have seen in Holland and of course the farmers, the work, some of the people, friends and neighbors are named very often.
The boys ask after things and most how we lived there.
They cannot understand that we always had to walk there because here they  cannot get the cows without a saddled horse.
They go to school with two horses put to the  buggy and when the roads are fine than it goes quick over it.
The oldest is John, he was 16 [years old] last May 25th, he is a full blooded horseman.
He cannot talk, just about horses, and he knows what a horse is.
The only thing he is doing wrong is that he gives preference to the lighter one's, while there is an demand for big heavy draught horses.
So you see that he just don't look for the financial part but he caught his eye on what he likes.
He will get his second year on high school now and it looks like he is a good student, the teachers always say good words about him.
Fred, Fedde B., is 11 years old now and is in his highest class of elementary school now and we hope that he'll work hard this year, he is a better student than John, taking his age  into account.
But he [John] got a great help from his brother because he had to stay home often to help me, just like during the harvest time and also with the Spring work because it was not possible to hire a man.
While Fred, the youngest, walks away from all those things.
John is very tall, I guess taller than you. With shoes on he is 6 feet, which is about 182 centimeters and weighs about 165 pound.
Now also a description of our selves and you almost will be able to recognize us when we met each other somewhere.
First the Mrs. [she] is as young as when we were there in Holland so she don't need a special description.
With me it is another story, I did not escape the time of life this time.
The best you can see it is on my gray hairs, I have a number of them and on top of the head they become a little scarce, otherwise I don't feel that the next anniversary will fill the 50.
Now I'll tell you some about the miracles of America, nevertheless these are no miracles which people in Holland will see as exaggerated American boasting.
Last year we had a bad year, in the Spring the soil was in such a very good condition as we ever could have expected and everything promised very well but after May 6th it started to dry and the corn didn't come up because of the drought, this lasted till May 30, then we got 23/100 of an inch rain, just enough to lay down the dust on the roads so it wouldn't blow away for some days and then it dried again till August. And it was as hot that a human being became paralysed and deaf in his whole body.
One could watch the grain dry day after day.
In spite of that there came ears in it and of each plant which had may be 5 or 6 spurs, one of them on the original stalk stayed and got a little ear and really formed grains and so the growth became a 5th part of a fair crop,this happened with the wheat.
Oats and barley were nothing, so we completely don't have feed and will have to buy the seeds of these growths.
There is no corn and the pigs we have we cannot fatten and the sows we like to keep won't look very well in the Spring.
Of course you can imagine how the hay is doing under the presents conditions, there is far to little.
Yesterday we got a new milk cow and next New Year we'll have almost all the calves very nice.
The butterfat is 65 cents at the moment, and it should not be a wonder if it should become 80 cents or more with New Year.
But with a lack of hay and no grain fodder, what kind of prospects will be there for the milk cows?
Moreover there comes another American wonder which is that we are already in the middle of the Winter since October 9th, so we already have to feed the cows.
When there comes no change [in the weather] and we'll get open weather till Christmas time or New Year, this will become the longest Winter we ever have seen.
So one things comes to another.
Last year it was better, then we had a nice crop and high prices, also now the prices of the grain are high against us because we have to buy a lot.
The horses are very cheap almost without value, especially the little one's, bronco's, these are originally wild horses because they were raised from generations before without someone who was working with them.
Just the young stallions which have been caught with a lasso and are brought under power in a rude way to get the necessary treatment and let go till anyone likes to buy it, it wanders around to the prejudice of the whole, because they eat grass of the cows.
They are as destructive as grasshoppers.
At the moment a mass of them are wandering around.
Last year I bought another 160 a[cres] but it has no fence yet and it is no wonder that there are 75 or 100 horses on it in the morning.
They scrape in the snow just like sheep and eat the grass till in the soil.
Where those guests are one does not expect hay in the next year.
But with this all we are healthy and will manage.
We are doing well here and have seen dark clouds before.
Sometimes these things are for good.
We hope that it looks better for you in Holland otherwise it won't look well for the working people
Greet the men who still work for you from the time we were there too.
Also greet Johannes and Ytje.
They will still remember us.

[Upside down on top of this page is written] Greetings, Pete van der Wal and family
Meadow,  So. Dak[ota].