Heritage Harvest


| July 2008



This John Deere 28x46 thresher is put through its paces at a threshing bee in Merrill, Iowa.

This John Deere 28x46 thresher is put through its paces at a threshing bee in Merrill, Iowa. Photo by Bonita Davison.

Heritage Harvest: Community effort comes together to produce old-time threshing bee

Many things have changed in the past century, but not this: If you're going to put on a threshing bee, you're going to need a lot of help.

As Dean and Bonita Davison worked with their Percheron teams and got acquainted with other draft horse enthusiasts in their area, they began to consider the idea of organizing a threshing bee near their home southeast of Le Mars, Iowa.

Today that's evolved into an event held in conjunction with Pioneer Days in Merrill, Iowa, about 15 miles north of Sioux City - and purchase of an antique thresher.

'We started planting corn with our team and just loved doing that,' Bonita says. 'Seven or eight years ago, we used machinery owned by a local club to set up a threshing demonstration during our county fair. We had difficulty coordinating everything when we didn't own the equipment, so we decided to start looking for our own thresher.'

Tracking down a thresher

The Davisons' search led them to Minnesota, where they found a John Deere 28x46 thresher that had been parked in a machine shed for 10 years. 'The man who owned it used it once since he bought it,' Dean says. 'It was in real good condition and all the belts were good. I brought it home, power washed it and used it that afternoon for threshing at our neighbor's field.'

As he searched for a threshing machine, Dean found that machines with wooden parts were often in very poor condition. If the threshing machine hadn't been stored under a roof and protected from wildlife, it deteriorated quickly.