Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/237

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THE GREAT AMERICAN DESERT

ment was keen, but they could not return. They settled on the one hundred-and-sixty-acre homestead, and during the first winter lived in a miserable, unhomelike dugout. In such a condition, poorly clad, without coal or other fuel in quantity, they braved that first terrible winter with its icy blizzards, the spring coming barely in time to save

PSM V80 D237 Instruments for wind velocity temperature relative humidity and evaporation.png

Fig. 16. Instruments for the Determination of Wind Velocity, Evaporation, Relative Humidity and Temperature.

them from an agonizing death. The next summer perhaps they built a small sod house into which were moved the few belongings, and then they began to map out plans for their future existence. There were neighbors in equally straitened circumstances, but after a while it was found possible to buy a few cattle and in this way a permanent livelihood was assured, and the foundations were laid for what is now one of the most important industries of the state.

The population of the Sand Hills is widely scattered. One may ride for twenty or thirty miles in almost any part of the hills and not see more than one or two houses, and frequently in such a ride he may not see a single home or meet a single person. The lack of human associates together with the monotony of the landscape and the slow routine of the lonesome day, the parching winds of summer, the call of the range, and the crimping blasts of winter, has left a telling imprint upon the homesteader and has made him a grizzled, fearless man. Far from the influence of the laws and the morals of civilization, he constructed his own statutes and his own code of morals. There were few entries here, but woe to him of the hills who lived not the life of an open book.