Threshermen vs. Farmers

| 6/6/2014 11:59:00 AM


Back in the old days, some farmers thought that all threshermen were dishonest, and a few of them undoubtedly were. On the other hand, some threshermen seriously doubted the honesty of the farmers for whom they worked, and I’m sure this was true in some cases as well. In 1926, the American Thresherman published a few letters to the editor from some of its readers about the subject.

One thresherman from Iowa wrote: “If you ever threshed grain by the wagon box measure, you would have little faith in the honesty of farmers.” He went on to complain that “Four out of five grain haulers will try to beat you.” Apparently, the rule was that a wagon box was to be considered full when it was level with the side boards. According to the writer, these miscreants did everything they could to heap up the grain and get a few more bushels for the same price. He concluded by saying, “Of course there are some farmers who wouldn’t beat you out of a kernel; but they are not numerous.”

Another complaint was against landlords who held liens against the grain of their tenants. The tenant farmer arranged for the threshing and then couldn’t get the money to pay for it from his landlord. The writer said, “Now it seems to me that, in a case like this, the man who holds the lien on the grain ought to pay the bill. But he won’t; the thresherman who has done the work can go whistle for his pay.”

A few letter writers complained about the threshermen. An Iowa farmer told of the custom operator who would cut the price a penny or two per bushel from the going rate for a farmer who had a big crop. Since the thresherman’s employees were doing the tallying, they would then add enough bushels to the count to make up for the lower price.

Threshermen who padded the tally seem to have been in the minority, however. One Minnesota thresherman wrote: “I have never seen a farmer yet, who did not expect to pay for the work. I have threshed in several different states and I always made it a rule to give 34 pounds of oats, 62 of wheat, and 50 of barley as a bushel; but I always demand the full price for my work. You can’t fool a good farmer on the number of bushels you thresh; get the price, I say, and give him five or ten bushels per hundred extra. That’s my motto: Good work, clean work, (and) quick work. Get your money and move to the next job.”


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