Singer describes hard times: People selling farms; automobiles repossessed; banks with no money to lend. Farmers should have stuck with mules, not tractors. Dandy young men now "plowin' and a-grubbin'." His partner has drunk up all the white lightning.
Singer describes hard times; people have had to sell their farms and leave; their automobiles have been repossessed. He goes to the bank for a loan; they have no money left either. He reproaches other farmers for buying tractors, saying they should have stuck with mules; young men, who had been getting all duded up, are now, "plowin' and a-grubbin'"; women likewise, for, "All they've got's gone." To cap everything, his partner has drunk up all the white lightning.
The song was originally written after a disastrous flood in 1907, but was adapted for the circumstances of the Great Depression. It should be noted that conditions on the farms had already been bad for several years before the stock market crashed in 1929.
Despite the "nonballad" keyword, there's a disjointed narrative here, so I've indexed it. - PJS