Farm Collector

Dairyland Driftings

By Gil

So .- – – – NOW I’M A COLUMnist??

Well, I’m not so sure – – – – am rather short on
credentials: never tried a typewriter, – – – – shorthand ?? far
from it – – – -no secretary (yet), but I do have a brief case, will
travel! How it all came about, I don’t know – puts me in mind
of a cartoon I saw years ago – seems a colored man was ambling down
a road dragging a long rope; a policeman thought it looked
suspicious and asked Rastus ‘Where you-all going with that
cow?’ Rastus, looking back, innocently replied, ‘I sho doan
no how dat cow done got attached.’ Maybe it’s more like the
one Geo. Christian (he’s my buddy with a background) was
telling – seems at length Amos now owned a watch. Andy asked him
‘You got the time, Amos?’ ‘Sho has, dar she am.’ –
Andy ‘She sho am.’

When I first bought a steam engine in 1946, I got to wondering
‘what will my neighbors think?’ Well, I weathered that
tolerance – now, there’s thousands of readers that were happy
with the ALBUM.

Stopped in at A. E. Maugans (St. Croix Palls, Wisconsin) first
of November. He’s a mail driver but interested in steam and gas
engines, has several. That afternoon I saw for the first time a
cider-mill and press. He was doing up some apples for a neighbor,
and thus on a small scale he was in business and I got a taste of
sweet cider. Now that’s one form of processing that was unheard
of in Northern Wisconsin, at least to me. I got home and took a
second look at my Sept.-Oct. 1959 ‘The Furrow’ – that cover
photo now took on a new meaning to me; it’s among my valuable
‘keep-papers’ now.

My curiosity aroused, I got to talking with Geo. Christian for
some first hand information on cider making. He lived 3 miles
southeast of Bunker Hill, Illinois, at the turn of the century.
Said most every town had a cider mill. Abraham Meisner was doing
custom cider making using a 10 hp Gaar Scott (hand steered) for
power from 1890 up into 1906 or thereabouts. Most every farm had a
1 or 2 acre orchard. Lancaster Bros. (Frank and Joe) had close to
40 acres since a firm from St. Louis leased orchards for their
cider trade. Work started mid-August and up into November depending
on variety of apples; the early processed ones made into vinegar,
with warmer weather favoring fermenting.

The rush season was mid-September or mid-October and
Meisner’s press could turn out a barrel a minute. Wagonloads of
apples (average 26 lbs.) came steady – often 40 to 50 wagons
waiting to shovel off apples. 12 bushels of apples made 1 barrel
(50 gal.) cider, whereas 6 bushels of pears would make 1 barrel.
Sweet cider is simply apple or pear juice, but after fermenting
it’s called hard cider, ya! Taking the cider home in wood
barrels, then laying down barrel with bung up and enough water
added to float out the ‘scum’ – when cider got to right
stage 10 worth of Annis seed was added to maintain its desired
taste, and sealed, then later consumed. Well, that’s not
‘how I got me a mother-in-law, a sipping’ cider thru a
straw’ —-

Had my oats stacked and finally got my threshing done last
November 16. Had hoped to thresh on a Saturday to permit interested
parties to attend the steam-job, but the weather was contrary – we
get sompin’ Texas don’t -‘brisk winter weather’ –
oats and straw were dry and in nice shape. Many a farmer in this
locality resorted to combining and got little or nothing. Also had
couple loads of soybeans to thresh but it got too dark and late to
finish up, so the next day Geo. and I belted my Rock Island 12-25
tractor to my 4 roll McDearing shredder and run the beans thru the
shredder. George said some beans went over, but I was satisfied
getting 35 bushels (by weight) from less than two acres. I resolved
shredding soybeans goes better than threshing corn.

Frank Miller of Lacrosse, Indiana, and his ‘chauffeur’,
Herman Nunnally, of Lebanon, Indiana, came thru here on his 5,000
mile trip hunting tractors – evidently nothing ventured, nothing
gained. Seems he made deals on Bates steel mule, 3 wheel Case,
Gray, and located others pending, though he now has more than 100
tractors. I can see another tractor would be ‘more power to
you, Frank’. We always enjoy visitors here and come again – he
tried out my latest acquisition, a Model T Ford ‘Knickerbocker
Form a tractor’.

One final thought, I overheard Ray Lock man ask ‘What’s
worse than growing old?’ — Not growing old!

  • Published on Mar 1, 1960
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