Mt. Pleasant, Iowa 52641
Sent in by Milo W. Mathews, Mount Union, Iowa 52644
The cock starts to crow at half past four.
You pull on your pants and start for the door,
You have slept on the hay in the old red barn,
Your shoes are worn and your sox need darned.
The farmer comes out and tells a big yarn.
You gather some cobs form the corn crib floor,
You round up some kindling and kerosene too
And make a big fire in the old return flue.
Then you throw in some wood and hope for some steam,
Wake the water boy to harness his team.
The sun is coming up hotter by the minute,
You wake the separator man, but his heart isn’t in it.
There’s a belt to lace and a weigher to mend,
There’s a concave to pull and tooth to bend.
Now the pretty farmer’s daughter is ringing the bell
And the breakfast they are cooking has a very good smell.
You throw in more wood and head for the house
Thru the barnyard gate and scare away the chickens.
The wash pan’s on the porch, water hot as the dickens.
You wash and scrub till water’s black and throw it on the
Grab the towel, make a swipe or two, spit out your crew
Through the screen door, the oil cloth is brand new.
The farmer asks the blessing for family and crew.
Pancakes are delicious with homemade butter, too,
Hot coffee, ham and eggs, and all trimmings new.
You check your watch with the bulldog on the fob,
Slide back from the table and turn the door knob.
Back to the engine and on with the job.
Bark your shin on separator tongue and say a thing or two,
You check the water in the glass, the boy is overdue.
The bundle racks are coming now, Bill, Joe, and Bob,
Grain boxes close behind with Mike, Jim, and Rob.
Steam is up, the pop valves on, it’s time to go again.
You crack the valve and find she’s on dead center, so
You turn the wheel to get her off and make her go,
And go around behind the barn where the horseweeds grow
And try to get the wind behind so the dirt won’t blow,
And hope the tank’s not far behind as water’s getting
You dig some holes an find poles and level up the rig.
We drop the tongue on the ground and turn her around
And back through the weeds as we look at the ground.
The big belt is unrolled to the spot you have found,
Climb out on the wheel and your knuckles did peel,
Haul it up on flywheel putting gandy on steel.
You back up a little, it’s fit as a fiddle.
The feeder comes out and around goes the spout,
The teams rally round to feeder and spout.
The man gives the signal and threshing begins
With forks and bundles from shocks to machine,
From 40 to thresher, from thresher to bin.
Water boy comes round the bend, side tanks almost to the
We throw in the suction and start the injection.
The glass starts to fill, the guage starts to flutter,
Oil in the oiler looks like melted butter.
You split some more wood and wish it was butter.
If this stuff was hickory, the fire would be hotter.
You climb on the seat and all you survey makes you king of the
Water boy hands up a cold jug of water, you pull the
You’ve never been drier and never been hotter.
The bundles keep rolling, the band cutter’s fine,
These oats are going to yield better than mine,
One youngster will certainly never get rich,
He upset his bundle wagon in a ditch.
The straw pile gets higher and bends down the weeds,
He will never have money and never get rich,
But he knows how to keep this thing out of the ditch.
He was much too busy to have the blues,
And he never paid any union dues.
You learn to grin thru thick and thin
Through the work is hard and the pay is slim.
The youngest man of the bundle clan
Drops his pitch fork in the feeder pan,
And it hit the cylindre with quite a bang.
It seems some people don’t give a hang.
So you cut the throttle and give a toot,
And the man comes down from the perch,
And the things he says are not for church.
He opens her up while you throw in wood,
You run down to help like he knew you would.
He bends a few and he takes some out.
The pop off valve is beginning to shout.
You do what you can and mop your brow.
Many things both great and small
Never need be done at all,
And this, it seems, is one of them.
And besides the time is almost ten.
We mount up again and open the throttle
And look for the kids with the cold water bottle.
The gals from around come with buckboard and hound,
With cookies and pies for the hungry guys.
The sky pilot shows as the noon whistle blows,
And it seems that he’s in his working clothes,
To shoo off the devil as everyone knows.
You bank the fire and head for the yard.
The kids keep ringing the bell real hard.
Tubs full of water, soap, and towels on the ground,
Kids by the dozen and dogs all around.
He goes in the house to the table that’s round,
And admires the goodies from all around,
More neighborly deeds never were found.
The parson blesses the food that this there,
And we sit on the nail kegs and stools, and chairs.
No Communist dare to come around here,
He would soon get a pitchfork stuck in his rear.
Buxom young lassies to shoo off the flies,
Ladies in gingham to serve homemade pies.
Pretty young maidens with stars in their eyes.
He never got very far in school,
You also find he was no fool.
He lived in a house by the side of the road
And helped his poor neighbor to bear the load.
He threshed the big jobs and threshed the small
And gave the same kind of treatment to all.
So it’s back to the engine reluctantly
To throw in a chunk from a white oak tree,
And stir up the fire and pour in some oil
And make sure everything’s according to Hoyle.
The thresher makes his accustomed rounds,
He fills a few cups and turns them all down.
Teams are all hitched to rack and box,
Seems there’s eighteen acres still in the shocks.
The water wagon is on its way
To get the third load for the day
With the old gray mare and the trusty bay.
So we turn her again and the bundles roll in,
The boxes fill up and are scooped in the bin.
The exhaust settles down with a beautiful sound
And the preacher forked in the loose from the ground.
You look around at your friends and their boys,
Remember when some of them played with their toys.
Their fathers fought in the Civil War,
Their sons in World War One,
And grandsons in World War Two,
And they all could handle a gun.
They knew of Gettysburg and France,
Used their guns and took their chance
To keep this great land free.
The Midwest honors a men like these,
And their wives and sweethearts, too.
And the oats will be in the bin
Before this day is through.
The pitcher’s completed as the field was depleted,
The water boys made their last round.
The woodpile was small, if there at all,
The tank wagon made its last haul.
There’s fresh lemonade over there in the shade
And the jobs dwindle down to a few.
They all gang around as the sun starts down
To find out the yield for the day.
The spikescops were through as we felt of the dew,
And now we could turn her around.
The steam is still up as we folded her up,
And the dinner bell rings once again.
We wash once more and head for the door
For the good things we know are within.
The blessing is asked by the preacher again.
He wouldn’t run on the Sabbath Day,
He took his wife to church to pray,
To make a place for the Judgment Day.
As he goes out again and hangs on his lantern,
He throws in more wood and toots on the whistle.
He opens the throttle and puts it in gear
And hopes he can come back another year.
The farmer is happy his grain is all out.
The stack is as big as the barn is without.
This happens here year after year,
And we hope to have this same engineer
With a fresh chew of horseshoe, a big chunk of wood.
The moon comes up over the stacker hood.
The thresher mentions we’ve done some good
The water boy whistles on his tank close behind,
We will turn in a farmyard and rest we will find.
The midwest will strive to renew and revive
These days of these brave little men.
Seldom he shaved, but the road that he paved
Was all for his fellow man.
He knew of no time clock or overtime,
But willing to lend you his last dime
An expert with pliers and baling wire,
He didn’t like loafers or liars.
If you busted your leg or became quite ill,
You would never receive your threshing bill.
He could milk your cow, or ring your sow,
Mend your baler or fix your plow,
Help with a bee tree, or saw your wood,
And make some sorghum awfully good.
We crown him King of this threshing bee
That thousands yearly come to see
With our steam and power and food,
Antiques and cars and trains and mills
We hope you get a hundred thrills,
Those who seldom do more than they get paid for
Seldom get paid for more than they do.
This is the motto of these midwest men
Who make this possible now and then.