Threshing in the good ol days

Picture #10

Content Tools

Route 2 Box 297 Rochester, Washington.

Early in the morning away before six
I have to get steam up and everything fixed.
The straw racks must turn smoothly without any knocks,
I haven't had time to put on clean socks.

I first have to take the block off of the stack,
Open the fire box door, throw in some wood, and pull the draft back.
Before all this the water glass must be a third full,
Take all precautions for safety is the sore rule.

When the steam comes up just a few pounds,
You can turn the blower on just about one round.
If the fire is good and fire beginning to roar,
You'll see that steam needle now begin to soar.

When you are doing this, you better have on the spark screen,
The engine is getting louder and a fire could be mean.
Take it very calm, use good common sense,
If you were with me, you would know what I meant.

But let me tell you, there certainly is a thrill
To have all that power at hand and to use as will.
When the steam gauge turns to 150 pounds,
You may check everything, and let the separator wheels go round.

Now the crew is getting here hitching up to the rocks,
Heading out in the field for bundles, will soon be back.
Now here comes one driving to feeder on side of belt.
Work now will begin and summer heat to be felt.

The engine gives one puff, and belts begin to roll,
Main belt snapping and popping, full speed is our goal.
Then puffing a little faster till governor sets the speed,
The separator is going fast enough now, to get the fine seed.

The straw is blown down wind way over there,
It is surely impossible to keep chaff out of your hair.
The grain weigher trips, and grain comes down,
Filling up the sacks that will go to town.

The boys pitching soon will be in a sweat,
When they keep working their back will be wet.
The boys keep working and sweating and easy to smile,
Keep the thresherman happy, and make it worth while.

Once in a while we get a new team
And driving to separator can be mean.
But with perseverance and good common sense,
The horses will know soon what the driver meant.

When nine o'clock comes, coffee will be served,
Lots of cake and donuts to keep up your nerve.
After a short break you go back in the field,
To go get the golden wheat and to get the full yield.

It does the thresherman's heart good to see the weigher trip,
Once to 6 or 8 seconds is a pretty good clip.
It takes sometimes 2 or 3 sack sowers to keep grain out of way.
It is lots of work done, looks easy like play.

Look easy to see sack sower throw his loop too
Makes 3 or 4 stitches and pulls the string through.
Makes 3 or 4 more and 2 half hitches with a flip,
The next thing you see, he has it on his hip.

The sack sower sits on two sacks filled high enough to suit his taste,
Sets the bottom down, pulls the top to his waist.
Smoothes the top out is ready to begin,
Half hitches, and stiches, more half hitches and finishing with a 1/2 spin.

As the machine keeps humming, the day gets thinner,
The boys keep sweating at twelve o'clock, the cook hollers dinner.
This is the time the boys wash up, and make it pay,
They have to eat hearty, for t'will be a long day.

Before sitting down to table, most will finish up their smokes,
They didn't know they were so hungry, and this is no joke.
They ate a little of everything, and cleaned up their plates,
They have to hurry up now or they will be late.

Then the whistle blows, they have to get back at it again,
A thresherman's life is surely work clear up to the chin.
The boys are now filled with energy and feel very strong,
They are filled with stories and jokes, don't care if the day is long.

They are a happy go lucky bunch, I don't care what you say,
There is always something cheerful in the boys that way.
They get used to the blower a clicking and a humming,
T'is music to their ears, like to the guitar man when he does his strummin'.

This poem could go on and on but too long would take,
At three o'clock comes again the afternoon break.
They get to their coffee and donuts, almost gulp them down,
A lot of the boys now a wishing day is over, so they can go to town.

But they all stay with their jobs in their line at work,
Pitching bundles, sacking grain, taking never a minute to shirk.
Just being glad to be working in a free enterprise,
When a lot of boys can't find work, these boys have, and are wise.

The hum of the separator sure is steady,
Most of the boys now are hoping supper soon will be ready.
The pitchers keep pitching, and hurry to the next shock,
The loader receives bundles leveling loud, pitches again in a fast waltz.

As the day rolls on the sun begins to lower.
Soon whistle will blow, then all quiet on threshing floor.
The good will spirit is still there,
Soon some will be sitting in an easy chair.

Some will go to town, some will have chores, to some will be nil,
But none will go anywhere till after supper and have their fill.
I like to revive it all with these threshing bees,
It isn't like sitting around the fire in winter in a big freeze.

It is something to do, so do it with a will,
So do it with sweet sociability, many hearts to be filled.
The old threshing hearts I'd like to revive.
I thought I'd help, so I have tried.

The photographs used in this poem are from I.M.A.'s unclassified file.