Threshing, Then and Now

| 8/20/2019 3:21:00 PM

Sam MooreIn 1907, a man named Edgar L. Vincent [no address given] reminisced about his younger years on the farm in a letter to The American Thresherman magazine.

“The first threshing machine I ever saw was a flail. After the frost came in the fall the neighbors would come in and ‘exchange work’ with each other, going from one farm to the other until the scanty harvest was all pounded out. It was a great time for us youngsters when the thud, thud, thud of the flails sounded over the hills and far away. We boys helped clean the grain and we turned the mill till our strength ran down so that we could scarcely make one more turn on the crank.

Next came the open-cylinder machine. I well remember the first time one of these machines set up in our barn. The barn was new, and as we had recently burned the logs of the old house to make way for the new frame house that was to be our home, we had moved to the barn and were living in the stable. No cattle had ever yet been in the stable and it was as neat and clean as any house could be and we liked the smell of the fresh-sawn lumber.

Well, that job of threshing was a great one, and no mistake! We had hung bed quilts along the sides of the barn floor to keep wheat kernels from scattering all over and into the stable. And when the bundles of grain hit that cylinder how the grain did fly everywhere! Up to the roof, all about the floor, into the eyes of the hands, peppering us all like hail stones in a storm. Queer that no one had yet thought to provide a cover over that cylinder! But the thresher was evolving and, as bright ideas came into men’s minds, they were adopted after no small struggle.

Two men threshing with flails.

Even then, cleaning the grain was still done with a fanning mill – the idea of combining a thresher with a separator was off in the future. After the threshing was done and the machine out of the barn, we had to sweep and shovel the grain into a heap and run it through the fanning mill. It was a big thing, though, to have the grain pounded off the bundles by something easier than the flail.

9/3/2019 12:52:03 PM

In Livingston Co., Michigan I remember when Barney Roepke came up the road with his steam engine & thresher. My brother was born in 1929 and was quoted as saying "Here come Barney Riccky". I was 5 years younger and was amazed at the goings on but was prevented from getting close to the machinery. As a teen-ager I used an A-C 5 ft cut, All-Crop trailer combine, then later an A-C Roll Baler. I went to the Univ. & Dad traded in 2 All-Crops for a Gleaner. DEM, BSAgr Eng BS, MS.


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