Dairyland in winter ain't just 'jerkin jerseys.' The few hours available amid choring are spent largely in the woodlots. Buzzing chain-saws leave their trails of jobs well done as well as acres of just fallen trees (minus the choice logs), typical of Americans is the waste untold. This has been another winter with little or no snow, at least up to Feb. 14.
Must say, I too, enjoy the tasks of timber harvest, cutting logs, splitting fence posts, gathering firewood and even cutting the underbrush. The latter project being simplified by a tool that seems to have originated by P.W.A. program and is stamped as such. Have never found one in a Hardware, but were available as a surplus commodity back in the early 40's. Simply a tempered piece of steel about 5'x9', 3/16' thick and sharpened on the two edges. A wood handle attached to the mid-section at a 45 degree angle does the trick. Wood for fuel, we find, is still the best for us. It's the cleanest, cheapest and safest. We like the smell of wood burning, and 'buzzing' it up gives us a chance to belt up various old tractors. Even shredding corn in sub-zero temperatures is simplified by using live coals to heat the oil pan in the of tractor. And last, but perhaps best, wood ashes add potash to the soil. The fenceposts to keep our bovines in, and the nabers out. Native lumber is used for building and gives me a chance to put the '50' Case on the sawmill where again we gain slab wood and sawdust as a supplement for bovine-bedding.
Nyle Kurth from EauClaire stopped one day -brought a couple steam engine records along. (Tape recordings were taken of my Case on the mill by Lonny Maugans of St. Croix Falls and thence put on records.) Well, Nyle was my engineer and fireman, Geo. Christian the off-bearer and were both interviewed as well as myself -we ran the record several times and I hope to hear it again before long.
December 15 was indeed a day for my book. Two Frank Millers from Indiana, La Crosse and Kewanna together with Sherald Bonnell, also from Kewanna driving a Buick stopped before breakfast. Seems the Kewanna Miller had 'bagged' an 80 Case at Little Falls, Minnesota. Had a nice visit over a cup of coffee ere they left. That very afternoon three steam-fans from North Dakota drove in. Liston Grider from Rugby whom I'd hoped to meet, having had correspondence with him back in '48. With him were Lester Grilley and his son, George, from Glenburn. They were just driving thru but did buy my 6 ft. Deering grain binder, the one I obtained from James Sylling of Spring Grove, Minn. That binder is getting around, will have cut grain in three states, at least.
Liston Grider, a well driller and Dr. Ted Keller owned a Double M Rumely which was pressed into service around the clock for 4 days clearing out a ton of wax from 2 blocks of Rugby's sewers which had hardened and plugged the sewers. The wax was inadvertently poured into the system when a creamery vat boiled over. Creamery employees tried flushing hot water thru the mains and the city's small steamers used for clearing drains were ineffective. Grider and Sam Tafte alternated to keep the engine hot and with extra hose borrowed from Great Northern Railway fed enough steam into the sewers to melt the wax. See flash photo of steamer on nite-shift.
Tourist information would have you think fishing is a must in 'Dairy-land.' That fish are plentiful and all you have to do is drop the line (oh yes, and buy a license). Well, methinks maybe its all just a line. The weather was unseasonably mild the ice 14 inches thick, minnows for free, acces s to a new ice drill - 3 women- Edith, Louise and Alice decided for ice fishing while their 1960 licenses were still valid. Edith caught one crappie, the next caught nothing, the latter came home with two - One Northern (all dressed from someones freezer) and a humdinger of a cold.
Pearl and Thelma Aaby, formerly from Frederic, are teaching in Minneapolis but own a farm in Bone Lake Twp. They usually visit the area every week-end and driving out last Thursday found the 'little house out in back' missing - tracks revealed a truck had driven up, loaded building and hauled away. The ladies are of the opinion it may be used on some lake as a fishing shack. What you think, Bill??
Sez one Eskimo to another, sez he, 'I never saw such a woman, she's bound to have a cloth coat.'
Jerry Erickson dropped in one evening-said he hadn't got his Jan-Feb. issue of the ALBUM. 'Now what?' Isez, 'Is your subscription run out?' 'No,' says Jerry, 'that can't be, I'd go without shoes before that'd happen.'
'Boy, oh boy! That was some blonde you were with last night - where did you get her?' 'Oh, I don't know, I just opened my billfold.'
Reckon most of us read the article on 'Redskins' by Red Pitts in Jan. '60 issue of Steam Engines? Al Johnson and his wife, Arlene from Leonard, Minn, were here on a visit and begory he tells one about fumigating Indians that really takes the cake. Perhaps someday he'll send in the episode in his own words, I hope. Well, our local veterinary used to test cattle for Uncle Sam out in Montana - up around Browning Reservation - believe you me you wore the customary hat and boots - you did what the Brownies do or else. He said it was so tough if you saw a cat with a tail it was a 'foreigner.' Lots of Indians in Wisconsin but to my knowledge cause no undue disturbances. Have witnessed their Pow-Wows on July 4th Celebrations many times. This colorful affair creates quite an attraction.
Speaking of write-ups and Hobby Magazines, have come across many compliments on Mary Lou's efforts with 'Engineers and Engines' - atta girl, Mary - you're jest the girl vot can do it! S'funny thing, my subscription to that publication runs out with December issue - for several years I've hinted to the spouse to just renew it for my Christmas present 'sted of a shirt or sompin - but, she takes a different approach to the matter. 'You'll send in the renewal allrite but I'm not so sure you'd buy a new shirt.' So now, I get both, after all, Santa foots the bills.
I received some slides from Art Clarke of England; also several issues of 'Steaming' magazine published by National Traction Engine Club. Sure makes good reading and hard to put down. An article on 'Portables' by H. Bennett says they were made from the 1840's and still being made for Messrs. Robey & Co. of Lincoln, even in this age of oil and internal combustion engines. The writer goes on - notes a Clayton & Shuttleworth of 1860 vintage - for over 60 years (till scrapped in '22) threshed most of the corn from the 2000 acres of Barkston in Lincolnshire. Wherever she went, bearded Geo. Watson, part owner and driver always went with her - when the engine was wore out so was he.
Further quotes from the issue - in reference to the Weston Park Rally, the longest journey to the Rally was made by a Sentinal Wagon owned by Jim Hutchins of Ferndown, Dorset. He drove the 135 miles to Weston with Mrs. Hutchins acting as fireman.
The Woodburn Rally - 4 Fowler engines gave demonstrations of ploughing and moledraining on the Sunday as well as taking part in events on the Monday.
From the County of Salop, at the time of writing the two large Fowler ploughing engines belonging to R.M. Woolley of Bucknell are engaged on a dredging job near Ludlow.
Steam Rollers are still in use - several makes of traction engines were 3-speed jobs - some engines have stood derelict for many years in need of new smoke-box and chimney. For Sale a 4' 6' Marshall threshing Drum No. 14281.
An article on 'Efficiency of Traction Engines' by John F. Clay - in short, the overall commercial efficiency takes into account capital cost and the price of fuel and maintenance. This explains why the steam engine has been able to withstand the onslaught of theoretically more efficient power units for longer than the protagonists of the latter ever thought possible. Had it not been for certain powerful tested and political interests, steam might with advantage have lasted longer still, especially in road haulage. The wiser historians of transport now agreed that had steam been allowed to serve the road as well as rail- to days transportation problem would have been settled long ago - instead of bankrupt railways and dangerously over-crowded roads, we might have had fewer but better railways and an adequate road system. So much for 'Steaming'.
Have had minus 25 degree weather but we feed birds every winter - suet for the Hairy, Downey and Red-Bellied Woodpeckers - seeds for the Chickadees, Nuthatches, Tree-Sparrows, Cardinals and Evening Grosbeaks.
Art Meisner was telling about working in logging c amps up north - they would grind their axes after supper, was so cold one time they hurried with a teakettle to the grindstone and the kettle froze solid so fast the ice was still warm. - GIL JOHNSON
The Thresher in the picture sent in by F. L. Williams, Box 42, Cordova, III., shown on page 23 of your March-April 1961 issue of the Album is a Gill Peerless Thresher manufactured by the Trenton Agricultural Works of Trenton, New Jersey. At one time this concern employed approximately 125 men building threshers, feed mills, etc., including Butterworth's, who later designed their own thresher and started the New Jersey Agricultural Works. Quite a few years ago we bought out the Trenton Agricultural Works and continued to build the thresher. Complete repair parts are still available for the Gill Peerless Rye Thresher. If you know of anyone who would like to purchase a new Gill Peerless Thresher, we have one in stock for immediate delivery.
W. G. RUNKLES' MACHINERY CO., R. G. Runkles, President, 185 Oakland Street, Trenton 8, New Jersey
FROM TENNESSEE -
I take your Album. It is worth every penny and more than we pay for it. I live in the east part of Tenn. It's not a big threshing place but steam was used to thresh and sawmill. It is pretty hilly in this section and it sure was some show to see the big steamers pulling steep grades and threshing. Most of the machines were small. About 22x36. I have a 16 hp Frick now. I use it for parades. I go to Kingsport, Tenn. every 4th of July, also parade in Greenville, Tenn.
We don't have any Thresherman Reunions in this state that I know of. I sure would like to see one started. I know of a few steamers and we could put on a small show. I believe I could get about 6 engines together. I was in Brookville, Ohio to a steam show this year (1959). It sure was fine. I intend to see more.
CLAY PHILLIPS, Fall Branch, Tenn.