I HAVE BEEN INTERESTED in threshing ever since I can remember. My first contact was when I was 4 or 5 years old, I was with my Dad going by a rig that was stopped for repairs. The separator man asked for me to go into the blower pipe to get some cylinder teeth that had lodged there. That set me up for life. My next job was setting on a gate post to keep the hogs out of the oats field while the threshing was in progress. When I could get to the engine I was in the height of glory.
The engine was a return flue, the name of which didn't mean anything to me then.
Then there was the job of water boy. When I was 11 or 12 Dad removed to Western Canada. There an Avery return flue straw burning rig threshed for Dad for a number of years. When I could rake straw in that old Kettle that was a thrill.
Later on Dad got a gas rig of his own20-40 Case. He used a crew of Indians for a few years. Then he got a combination bundle loader and carrier. Dad was separator man and my older brother was engineer. I was the flunky.
When the loader and carrier came along I got the job to drive it. Six horses pulled it. The drivers seat was up about 8 ft. high. In warm weather it was fine, when it turned cold it was a lonesome and cold job.
On the 11th of October, 1919, we threshed all afternoon in a drizzle. The next morning was a howling blizzard which lasted all day. The next morning was clear and cold, 10 below and 20 miles from home. That stopped the loader.
We had 100 acres of oats at home in the snow to stack. We got it threshed sometime in November. That was a job getting the rig home through three foot snow drifts.
The next fall Dad run the separator 22 days in good weather. He was having trouble with his teeth. When the snow came he went to the dentist and he gave him gas and pulled all his teeth. I ran the separator 22 days in the snow and finished on the 22nd of December. This was 10 below weather.
In the morning brother would carry straw for a fire on the windward side of the engine to draw the frost out of the metal. The frost would come white on the engine. The fly wheels would remain white until 10 o'clock. On warm days the snow and ice would melt and run off the front of the feeder. On cold days I would keep a straw fire near the separator to keep the oil warm and also the men when they would have a few minutes. One man got the back of his pants leg burned off. During most of the time I had the blower pipe off at the elbow. On warm afternoons I had to stay near the tailing spout to keep the tailings moving so as not to clog.
Those were rugged times. As I remember the charge was 15c for oats and that winter the price on the market went to 14c.
I left all this in 1922 and came back to Iowa. I have had my own outfit the last 20 years. I have not gone to the combines yet.
In 1922 I found a Case 50 steamer before leaving Saskatchewan. I used to dream of running an engine in the shade of a tree in Iowa. Later on I run a Reeves in Iowa and one set is the only one I ever set in the shade.
Well, the fire is out and steam is down.