Farming Proves to be a Challange

Settlers from the east soon discovered that growing crops in the West was a challenge.

They were faced with as few as 11 inches of rain a year, flash floods and a short growing season in-the higher country. Even if the crops survived the whims of nature, raiding Indians sometimes destroyed crops near Pueblo.

Where it was possible, the settlers planted corn in river floodplains. They also dug ditches to move water from streams for irrigating crops. The most common low-elevation crops were corn, wheat, beans, pumpkins and watermelons. High country crops included peas, lettuce, potatoes, cabbage, turnips, beets and hay.

The settlers also raised cows and steers. They used the cattle for beef, milk and even to pull plows. Hogs, chickens and goats also provided variety to the settlers diet. Many cattle and hay farms dating from the 1870s and 1880s are still in operation in the Wet Mountain Valley.