Nothing Fancy

Lowly spade disc preserved for posterity at Little Village Farm.

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Jim Lacey
Detail of a nicely aged tree I finished cutting out prior to getting the unit operational.

Thirty-odd years ago, Fern Nemmer’s son, Tom, bought the acreage on Joe Merges’ farm. Joe had lived there, as a bachelor, caring for his mother. We were “gathering” pieces for the museum back then and Fern mentioned a strange-looking disc-like affair, half-buried in the grove, that we could have if we were interested.

A closeup of a disk

I went down with a chainsaw, cut off both sides of a 10-inch tree and brought the piece home, storing it in our grove where it was until recently.

Apparently, a spade disc such as this one did not enjoy much favor. The only other mention as such is in C.H. Wendel’s Encyclopedia of American Farm Implements and Antiques. An entry on Page 109 shows a similar unit built by D.S. Morgan & Co.

A view of a machine and its many discs

This one has been converted to tractor power as evidenced by a steel tongue. Two levers with notched quadrants allow for change of angle, 8 feet being about what it is. This one has scrapers between each set of spades as well as grease cups feeding hard grease down through 1/4-inch pipe to wooden bearings, three to a side.

Quarter-inch pipe is rounded on the end, then driven into the top of bearing boxing, with a lower standard bolt also clamping the pipe into place. It’s definitely not fancy. The spades themselves are quite brittle steel and several are broken.

A piece of farm equipment

All in all, it’s a neat find for our museum, as it is the only one I have ever seen in real life. We parked it on rocks along one wall of our 16-sided building. FC

Jim and Joan Lacey operate Little Village Farm, a museum of farm collectibles housed in 10 buildings at their home near Dell Rapids, S.D. Contact them at (605) 428-5979.

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