Farm Collector


By Staff

Last March 22 goes down in my book as an outstanding day, for
any steam fan. Having prodded ‘William’ to do my chores we
took off early for the SUHR Homestead near COCH-RANE, some 150
miles to the south. With us was RONNIE GJERNING, whose love for
steam was this time to center around MYRON GLEITER’S 18 hp
Baker No. 651. By 10 A.M. we were at our destination. There was
‘Abner’ parked by the big barn, smoke rolling from the
stack. We buzzed up some scrap lumber with his ‘W-C and loaded
the wood in a pickup together with several 10 gallon cans of water.
After checking the Manzel pump and the oil line things were about
ready for the count-down. We were anxious to start the move to
Myron’s farm, which he purchased recently, a winding 3 miles
distance down the valley, but before leaving we partook of a
scrumptious dinner, so typical of the Suhrs where we have stopped
on many previous occasions. Heading out the driveway we crossed the
blacktop (posted 4 ton limit) and headed over the fields toward the
gravel road on the opposite side. This rich black bottomland gets
plenty tacky on a mild day in March and crossing the corn stubble
was to be a non-stop lap. Myron manned the levers and Ronnie at the
wheel and me toting three cameras. First stop on a hay-field and
posing Myron for a snap he remarked ‘HOMER HOLP and his
Baker’. We two recalled a similar picture in a late issue of
‘The American Thresherman’. On the engine is Ronnie,
‘on top of the world’. This engine was owned by a sand and
cement block factory at LaCrosse. It was used to dredge sand from
the Mississippi River by a belt driven drag-line and, also used for
heat and steaming gravel. Prior to that it was used by a rock
processing concern. The compactness and performance of the Baker
intrigues me but being a ‘Case’ man I find it a bit trying,
to get used to a rear mounted water-glass. Traveling those hills in
Buffalo country one has to know his water level and trust your
better judgement against an empty water glass. Minneapolis engines
have the same characteristic and Myron tells me they too plyed
those hills and bluffs in bygone years and without any tragic

Myron tells the story, back when a Model T met a Minneapolis
engine decending a winding narrow hillside road. The perplexed car
owner suggested the steamer would have to back up the hill, but the
engineer climbed back onto his platform saying, ‘he didn’t
think so’ and the Model T owner reluctantly reversed his
thinkings; a case of mass over matter.

Back to the trip Myron eased ‘Abner’ down the hill and
approached what apparently looked like a safe bridge over Waumandee
creek and it was. Would that all bridges were such prior to the
twenties. Turning left by his mail box we were heading up his
driveway by this time a wagon was being pulled and loaded with
passengers including his two boys Frederic and Curtis. Getting
closer to his buildings Myron’s dog joined the fun as can be
seen in the photo, as the Baker heads up the lane to a shed built
for steamer and complete with doors. Not only is it out of the
weather but it also eliminates ‘sparrow tracks’. Thanks to
our hosts for that happy day.

Somewhere in Minnesota ‘Ben met Anna, made a hit; neglected
beard, Ben Anna split’.

On April 12 it was our privilege and pleasure to attend a
surprise birthday party on our good friend HAROLD CHURCHILL at his
church, the Rock Elm Methodist, 5 miles south-west of Elmwood. It
was very evident Harold has a multitude of friends including many
steam fans. Talked with DAN BOOTH from Ellsworth, says he bought a
20 hp Minneapolis to keep his 11X11 Case company. I don’t think
it was his wife’s idea but it makes sense to me. The Rock Elm
church stands out not only as a progressive rural congregation but
a busy community center through out the summer months. We have
attended their home made ice-cream festival, which has grown to
capacity crowds. Normally they start the 2nd Thursday evening in
June and hold one every two weeks through September. Harold says he
can’t recall just when these Socials started but that two 6
quart freezers were used prior to 1900, then two 15 quart hand
turned freezers and additional re-packing cans were added until in
the 20’s when a 10 gallon power driven freezer and ice crusher
were purchased. By this time Harold had a steam boiler for
pasteurizing and they were turning out about 40 gallons of ice
cream. In the early 50’s an ice cream house was built adjacent
to the church and with improved kitchen facilities all work was
done at the church. By this time another 10 gallon freezer was
added as well as two freezer cabinets. The crowds got bigger. New
tables and chairs were bought, and it became a two day job. The
custard was made and cooled in a special cooler the first day.
Grade A pasteurized cream is bought and the maple syrup, berries,
and milk is donated by the members. Several flavors of ice cream
are made and you can buy it by the dish with coffee and cake, or by
the cone, quart, or gallon. Just how far a small congregation can
expand this activity remains to be seen but they have made up to
140 gallons for one evening and still run short. Harold says if
they did not have the best bunch of working women these socials
would not be possible. One thing for sure here is a rural church
with a tradition that is paying off.

Alfred, about to terminate his date with a country lass,
‘Guess I better go home, the roosters are starting to
crow’. Came the reply ‘Huh, thas nuthin, they crow all nite
around here.’

Got another steel wheeled G-P John Deere (No. 228080) not that I
needed it but, a nice addition. Somehow them old John Deeres were
exclusive. The old ‘D’ was to farming what the Model A Ford
was to motoring. I recall back near Power Montana in ’35, I was
driving a 22-36 McCormick Deering pulling a nine disc plow. Across
the road Russell Cunningham was driving a neighbors Model
‘D’ with identical load. Somehow I felt all the time I was
being crowded, he seemed to travel faster with greater ease and
very likely doing it cheaper. Most of the time Russell was standing
up while driving, says it was less tireing. The 4 cylinder I was
herding even had a bucket-seat and at best one could awkwardly
stand on one leg or sideways, and still no hand clutch. Used my old
‘D’ this spring, when you hook that 15-27 on a field
cultivator ‘sompins gotto give’.

Cleaned the chimney the other day, using my ‘B’ J-D. Ya,
you see, my fixed ladder is a bit short on the lower end so by
setting it on a rear tire I had easy access to that roof job. Alice
wouldn’t be too surprised if some day I’d drag a steam hose
thru the house and blow out the chimney with my 50 hp

As a farm reporter on Feed Grain Program I’d like to relate
a few amusing sidelites. Measuring on one field I found several
telephone insulators ‘Ya’ the farmer says, ‘help
yourself, I’ve picked up a dozen of them, they put a new line
thru here and let the insulators fall where they will’. Riding
to the far end of a field on a Case tractor with another farmer
while plowing he tells me, ‘This field has to be in corn
because its next to the golf course, and with oats or hay the
golfers tramp down the crop hunting golf balls, look here, I found
two just plowing this forenoon, I’ll give you one, recon
I’ll find more.’ One farmer works on erecting pole type
buildings says he used to milk cows and run 4 milker units alone.
Well all I can say is he should be milking cows; but not mine! I
came across a Lindsay Alamo gas engine and the farmer sensing my
interest soon transferred the ownership to me.

I don’t know if cast iron implement seats are collectors
items but they should be, at least I keep an eye for such and have
gained several and some rather odd. On some occasions it was to
measure along the edge of some field and cautiously wade through
poison ivy. (Sorta prompted me to think ‘here’s one for the
spot checker’). Got a new slant on bird lore too. Birds too
live in changing times. The invasion of the starling has greatly
decreased our domestic birds, namely bluebirds, purple martins,
wrens by invading nests and eating the eggs. At least Levi Larsens
down Luck way have ventured a solution. It was my boyhood thinking
to attract birds to our yard but I realize now that it was a good
move for cats. The Larsens have set up a dozen or more one room
houses with 1′ openings to eliminate the starling. These houses
were set out in open pasture along the fence lines away from any
buildings. Numerous blue birds and tree swallows were viewing for
apartments as of April 30.

Geo. Christian happened at our place on April 22 which was his
birthday. I wanted to take him for a ride so we jumped in my old
truck and headed up the road a couple miles to pick up some
polewood. It gave us a chance to talk old times; that we do,
inasmuch as I am a good listener and I respect my elders.
‘Yeah’ he says ‘All these modern conveniences, when I
was a lad back in Illinois we went in the house to eat and down the
path to ‘rest’ and now its getting to be just the
reverse.’ His family planned a birthday party for him the
following Sunday. Hinting a bit, ‘why don’t you invite me
over so I can taste your birthday cake?’ ‘Come on over, you
are welcome, you can have my share of the birthday cake.’
‘Don’t you like cake?’ ‘Well yes, but I’m so
sweet now the flies chase me to death’.

  • Published on Sep 1, 1964
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