MEMORIES OF THE PAST


| January/February 1953



Mule operating a tread power

Mule operating a tread power at the Mt. Pleasant Reunion. This was a trick mule. She played in Rodeos and Wild West Shows. A lovable little critter. She responded readily to the owners soft words.

That fall, after work was completed, I had been in correspondence with the J. I. Case manager at Regina, and through his efforts arrangements were made allowing me to go to the factory at Racine for the winter, to work on boiler construction. It was a real chance for my apprenticeship, and always will I remember that winter. It was the first time away from home and everyone was so good to me, which was typical of the older days. That was one winter that taught me a lot, and opened the way for two more to follow at the Case works. Later, in 1911, the winter was spent at the Reeves boiler factory.

Came 1908, and that year made up for the losses in 1907. The crop was equal to two average years, and even the fall weather was grand. Threshing started August 29 that year and we threshed until the September 21st storm without a break of any kind. At that time the weather stopped us for ten days and then we started again and ran steady until December 23rd. Everyone wanted a week off, so as the grain we were threshing was stacked, Dad decided to close down until January 2nd. By that time the weather had gotten cold, so arrangements were made with farmers to change work and we would put on a three fourths day running from 9 A. M., to 5 P. M. which was done until we finished on March 3rd, 1909. Ten days later I was called in for examination by the local Boiler Inspector and being successful, was then a full-fledged engineer with a certificate. Previous to that, I had operated on a temporary paper to comply with the act.

By this time, considerable interest was coming to the front in steam plowing, and although we had used the little Case for some light work, it was decided to go on until the end of 1909. By doing that it gave us the chance during the summer to attend the Winnipeg Exhibition where all types and sizes of every make engine, both gas and steam, was in operation, and by seeing them operate, would help us decide on what was needed or more suitable. This helped us pick out the first Reeves 32-100 cross compound.

The fall of 1909 came and that fall we had our first fire. It had rained during the night, just enough to make it tough in the morning at the start. The machine was at a new set at the edge of a coulee where there was a heavy covering of grass and the engine was really barking and using straw for fuel. A spark had gotten to smoldering in the grass and with the wind blowing it got a start. However, one thing that had always been done at the very start of each year, came in good this morning. Each man had been trained and told what to do and where to go. We always had at least two practice drills during the first week and our standing instructions were to double the men's pay that day to save property. So this morning as the fire gained headway, four men took the separator tongue and slowly pulled the machine out of the belt and then everyone turned to the fire. By that time I had the engine over by the bin and the pump did the rest. We lost half art hour in time, and half a load of bundles. Later on this same year, we had a second fire, but no toss except a stack of straw. The fire started right on top of the pile, and there was a lot of foxtail in the straw, so it went very quickly. But there were no losses.

That fall work was finished up by the end of November and as a great demand for grinding grain seemed to come, the old Case 20 was run into town and put in a shed and ground grain three days a week until the end of January in 1910.

Early in 1910, an order for a new Reeves 32-110 cross compound was given, to be followed later on toy an order for an Avery 'Yellow Fallow' 40 inch thresher. No we were in the plowing game. The first plows handled were 12 bottom Cockshutt breaking sod. By now was had two crews running night and day from midnight Sunday until midnight Saturday. The water was quite a problem, and sometimes we had to wash out on Wednesdays to keep our boiler is shape. On the average, one and three quarter tons of steam coal were used each 12 hour shift. We had 2 water teams and a coal team going and a blacksmith on hand, a cook in the cook house, and included a sleeping car with the outfit. Generally we would break new land until the end of June and then would back set two year old land for the next years crop.