By M. VanDer Velde, Box 336, Dalemead, Alberta, Canada As I am a
reader of your most welcome magazine and an old thresherman, since
I started out when I was 14 and never missed a year till I was 76
(I am now 84), thought I would write of some of my experiences.
The last I used was the self propelled combine and now the
thresher and steam engine has all disappeared and we use almost all
the biggest tractors and combines. I came here in Alta in the year
1908, April 1st. I came from the state of Iowa, from the town of
Sheldon. There were three brothers of us. Andrew and I still live
on our original farms, which we purchased sixty years ago. This is
prairie country, very level, no sloughs. We were almost the first
settlers here. We had two 14′ walking breaking plows which we
used for the first three years. Then in 1911 I bought a 110 Case
steamer and a 10 bottom P and O breaking plow and could average
from 30 to 35 acres a day and they paid us $3.50 to $4.00 an acre
In 1914 we desolved partnership and John and Andrew also bought
each a Case 110 and 10 bottom plow. We broke land from May to July
10 and then we took the engine with 10 8′ disks and 40′ of
harrows and worked the land down for the next years crop. In the
fall we did a lot of custom threshing and I had a run from 60-70
days. I had 12 bundle teams, 5 pitchers at the feeder, a cook and a
cow for milk. We furnished everything and got 5cent per bushel for
oats, 10 for wheat and 7 for barley. We started at 6 a.m. and
worked till 8 p.m. and the men earned from 15 to 200 an hour and
very seldom would a man quit.
I am holding the honor till today of the highest number of
bushels of oats threshed in one single day, of 8657 bushels. The
next highest one was a man north of here who made the high of 8248.
It took me a long time to beat him. He came from N. D. and his name
was Anton Pearson. He had a 30 double cyl. Nickles and Shepard and
a 42-64 separator. I had a 110 Case and a 40 x 64 Gaar-Scott
separator. I threshed for seven years and had a Minneapolis rig 22
Hp. engine and a 36 x 56 Separator also owned a direct flue 20 Hp.
Northwest engine with a 35 x 60 Gaar-Scott separator. Also had a 22
Hp. Advance with a 36 x 56 separator which was a very nice rig to
run which I shipped up here in 1909. We made good up here and was
lucky to hit a real good country. Calgary was a small town of
14,000 and now her population is 340,000. This providence is full
of gas and oil. We have a large gas well on our land and live 25
miles southeast of Calgary.