KANSAS: Spring Planting

The winter had been mild: days bright with sunshine, nights when snow fell gently on the waiting land. Now the soil was dry and good, ready to come to life with the first warm breezes. In the rich black loam of Lyon County, farmers al ready were sowing oats, a full three weeks early.

In his 60-year-old frame farmhouse, tall, strapping Ralph Delair crawled out of bed at 5:30, pulled on long underwear, two heavy shirts, ankle-high shoes, blue denim overalls, two sweaters, a thick mackinaw, a battered felt hat. He started a...

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