Threshing Memories

Let's Talk Rusty Iron

| September 2009

  • An idealized rendering of a threshing scene from the cover of the July 1933 issue of Successful Farming Magazine.
    An idealized rendering of a threshing scene from the cover of the July 1933 issue of Successful Farming Magazine.
    Successful Farming Magazine, July 1933
  • The author, driving the Ford tractor (with a cousin, Bob Welch, riding shotgun), brings a buck rake load of oats bundles to the thresher.
    The author, driving the Ford tractor (with a cousin, Bob Welch, riding shotgun), brings a buck rake load of oats bundles to the thresher. Our old one-eyed Chevy truck is returning from the granary to haul another load of sacked grain, while a hay and straw dealer is waiting to exit the field with a load of straw bales.
    Peg Townsend
  • Threshing oats at the Moore farm on Aug. 12, 1947.
    Threshing oats at the Moore farm on Aug. 12, 1947. The Belle City separator can be seen in the background with the baler in front. The man in the very center, wearing a cap, is my uncle, Chuck Townsend. My late cousin, Peg Townsend, recorded in her diary that we got 401-1/2 bushels of wheat, 396 bushels of oats and 800 bales of straw that day.
    Peg Townsend

  • An idealized rendering of a threshing scene from the cover of the July 1933 issue of Successful Farming Magazine.
  • The author, driving the Ford tractor (with a cousin, Bob Welch, riding shotgun), brings a buck rake load of oats bundles to the thresher.
  • Threshing oats at the Moore farm on Aug. 12, 1947.

Well, I celebrated (if “celebrate” is the proper word) another birthday in August (OK, I attained the ripe old age of 76), and I’m waxing nostalgic about the good old days.

In case you hadn’t noticed, that’s a common failing among us “old geezers.”

When I was a kid on the farm during the 1940s, we grew corn, oats, wheat and hay. That was the standard order of crop rotation and Dad taught me how to remember it by using the word cow followed by hay (cows eat hay, right?). The hay was mostly a clover and timothy mixture and was put into my uncle’s barn with the hayfork.

The grain harvest was the big deal of the harvest season. First wheat and then oats were cut with a McCormick-Deering ground-driven grain binder pulled by the Farmall F-30 tractor. My grandfather Moore, who we all called “Nandad,” usually rode the binder to adjust the levers and dump the sheaves in rows so they could be shocked by my father and uncle and, sometimes, a hired man.

The grain was left in the field in the shocks to “sweat” for about a week, and then the sheaves were pitched onto the old Chevy flatbed truck and hauled into our barn. The big log crib haymows, and usually the barn floor as well, were stacked to the rafters with sheaves of grain to await the coming of the thresher around the middle of August.

Threshing was an exciting event for me. The first threshing rig I can recall was a Huber tractor and a Huber separator owned by Floyd Bowers from near New Waterford, Ohio. I don’t know what became of Mr. Bowers, because Lorain Foulk, Calcutta, Ohio, then threshed for us for many years. I believe Mr. Foulk originally had a Case LA tractor but later got a big Minneapolis-Moline G with which he ran his Belle City threshing machine. Mr. Foulk also brought along a John Deere stationary baler to bale the straw.



Filling the haymow

On the east side of our barn was a large door off the barn floor that overlooked the barnyard. Dad and Uncle Chuck built a platform outside this door and the thresher was positioned so it could be fed from this platform. Two men stood on the platform and pitched the sheaves into the separator’s self-feeder, which was a fairly easy job since the feeder was just below the level of the platform. Men were stationed in the mows and on the barn floor to relay sheaves to the feeder men.

The clean grain was discharged into sacks, which several men carried on their shoulders to the nearby granary where it was dumped into the bins. The entrance to each bin had a double wooden track on either side into which boards could be slid. As the grain built up inside the bin, successive boards were added until the bin was full. We kids had a great time playing in the grain bins as they were filled and no one gave a thought to the danger of being suffocated. On some years, probably when the yield was exceptionally good, some of the wheat was hauled to a feed mill and sold.

The dirtiest job

Mr. Foulk had built a large sheet metal funnel-like affair around the feed chamber of his baler and the straw was blown directly from the thresher into the baler. It still took a man to keep the straw fed properly, as well as a man on either side of the bale chamber to poke and tie the wires with which the bales were bound. The men on the baler had probably the dirtiest jobs and always ended up with black faces and lots of chaff down their necks.

Each completed bale was weighed on a platform scale and the weight was recorded in pencil on a small square of pasteboard slipped under one of the wires at the end of the bale. Mom and us kids cut all those squares ahead of time out of empty cereal boxes. The bales weighed about 100 to 120 pounds and it took several men to stack them in the barnyard. Much of the straw was sold on the spot to a hay and straw dealer, who hauled it away on his truck.



SUBSCRIBE TO FARM COLLECTOR TODAY!

Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

Save Even More Money with our SQUARE-DEAL Plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our SQUARE-DEAL automatic renewal savings plan. You'll get 12 issues of Farm Collector for only $24.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of Farm Collector for just $29.95.




Facebook Pinterest YouTube

Classifieds