Firsthand Memories of a Horse-Drawn Riding Cultivator

Reader Contribution by Harold Jehle
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When cultivating corn with a 1-row cultivator pulled by a team of horses, you always had about five or six wooden pegs in your pocket. These were applied into appropriate holes in the shanks of the shovels. If you hit a rock or a stump, the peg would break and the shovel and shank would fly back into a flat position. This safety device prevented damage to the shovel or shank.

When we sawed wood, we always cut several boxes of wood to make cultivator pegs. These pegs were usually about 3/8-inch diameter and about 2 inches long.

The cultivator I used is still sitting east of the granary. The wooden tongue (for the cultivator) has rotted away. It had two handles and two stirrups for your feet to guide the swinging shovels. There were three sets of shovels on each gang. Also you had muzzles to put on the bridles of the horses to keep them from chomping on the corn. You’d tie the lines behind your back and guide the shovels with your hands and feet.

The name of the cultivator was a Perfection; it was sold by the IHC dealer. It was a riding cultivator with a pressed steel seat. I rode that old cultivator day after day. You usually cultivated corn three times before it got too tall. Then you went through with a corn knife or hoe to chop the weeds the cultivator had missed. I was probably 9 or 10 years old. Shovels were of two designs, either spear-point or bull-tongue. It was also equipped with fenders for small corn. I think I can almost feel my legs aching from guiding the shovel gangs today.

Harold Jehle, Baldwin, Kansas

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