Amusing Incidents Of My Threshing Days

1895 threshing scene

1895 threshing scene between Benson and Minonk, Illinois. Emil Zimmerman and Chas. Kook were the owners. We have no other information on this rare photo but the engine looks like a C. Aultman. We wish for more information on that straw rig.

C. Aultman

Content Tools

Route 3, Muncy, Pennsylvania

Before the week was over they were picked up by the authorities as a pair of 'wanted' run-aways and returned to their homes many miles away.

One other occasion a young man who had unusually large feet came on the job with his large feet encased in brand new shoes - and immediately his shoes became a target for all tobacco chewers on the job. He was given the job of 'carrying away' and that made him an easy mark, but he had the last laugh. He was just too quick for any of them!

He'd see a charge coming from any direction and with a quick jerk, the 'splat' would arrive and shoes just wasn't there! All day long they tried hard to get him, but nary a speck did his shoes get all day.

One day I was going to thresh for a man who was well up in years, and stoop-shouldered and very quiet spoken. I had moved in the night before, and as we all arrived the next morning he was busy sweeping his barn floor. We all noticed he had on a new pair of dark trousers and a new denim coat.

As every man came in the barn and saw the new garb the first question was, 'Where was the fire?' Finally he looked up from his sweeping and said, 'Gee Whiz, can't a man put on a new pair of pants but what they think there's been a fire sale?' All forenoon he was chided every time he'd go to do anything - they'd say, 'Now watch them pants!'

At noon there were only five men to sit down to dinner, so the good wife decided to sit down and eat with the men and there was a good bit of good natured bossing among the men of who would sit where, for Pappy would want to sit beside Mommy with his new pants on. He was so dry-faced through it all we didn't know if he took offense or not, but his aged wife got a whale of a kick out of it.

I was possibly one thresher in a dozen that never used chewing tobacco, but for mischief's sake I kept a paper of Beech Nut scrap in the tool-box of the machine and it soon started to disappear by snitching chews. This was just what I wanted. The next paper was spiced up with shredded Indian turnip, and it was no time at all till chews that were hardly messed up, were spat out with strong words, and the blowing began. One guy said he could easy set the straw-stack afire by blowing his breath on it.

I had a quarter pound of fine ground pepper hidden on the machine I was going to have some fun with some of it if the right time came. It went for a long, long time before that time came. The men in the wind-breaker taking care of the straw began razzing the men in the sheaf mow to get a move on and give them more straw. The pitchers had the hardest job, so I got the pepper out of long hiding, and pretending I was making adjustments, I fed the pepper into the stacker fan in a small stream.

I barely got away from the machine till the sneezing began. One small sized man sneezed so fast he sounded like a small gasoline engine running! Another big husky man let out a loud 'AAH- CHOO - HOOO, say, what's tore loose down there? AAH - CHOO -HOO, blankety-blankety-blank!' Had those men known what I'd done I might be running yet!

The last incident happened during the years after I discontinued all threshing. My neighbor had a John Deere tractor on rubber and he asked me to do his threshing and let him use his tractor to furnish the power. This was very suitable to me but his tractor had no coupler on front to back the machine in the barn when he brought it home.

My engine was stored under the straw-shed in a high corner of the barnyard, well-covered from chaff and dust. It had stood from November to August, and knowing I would have to get it out to push the thresher back in the barn when we brought it back home, I had it all serviced up ready to use when the time came. While getting it ready I discovered that big black shiny bumble-bees had made a nest between the cylinders and the transmission case, but I kept this mum.

When the time came to get it out the neighbor wanted to do the cranking. Old Bossy, the cow, was standing close by, her eyes half-closed chewing her cud, and at the first snap of the impulse starter the Titan was up and at it - and so were the bumble-bees. He hardly had the crank hung in its place till he grabbed his cap and began swatting the air around him and ran, and at the same time old Bossy came to life with a 'Baarrak' and went down through the yard with her head and tail up.

You could tell every time either one got a jab as they would jump higher. Bossy became so enraged she got down on her fore knees and gored a manure pile furiously.

I kept the relief valves slightly open so that the smoke and fumes coming up around me kept me safe from any attacks.

All the while we were coupling up and uncoupling, he kept on swatting and swearing a blue streak.

When he started home on his own tractor he stood up rather than sit on the seat, and kept rubbing certain spots on his rear as he went out of sight.

I let the engine run idle for about twenty minutes and that wrote 'Finis ' to what was left of the bumble-bees.