THE GOOD OLD DAYS OF STEAM BUNDLE THRESHING


| September/October 1972



417 N. 100 E., Tremonton, Utah 84336.

That was the most wonderful way in the world to harvest. To bind and thresh and haul the sacks with grain teams to the sack warehouses beside the steam railroads.

It looked so good to see that threshing outfit, in the setting out, in that big field of grain shocks. I always thought a shocked field of grain was one of the most magnificent and thrilling sights there was with those rows upon rows of shocks marching in beauty and dignity over rolling hills, golden in the sunlight.

To see that grand steam engine laying back in the long one hundred and seventy-five foot drive belt turning the many wheels and pulleys and belts of the magnificent grain separator with its extended feeder and high-flung blower building a great golden, fragrant straw stack while the steam engine was melodiously huffing, chuffing the most beautifully thrilling music amid the pleasant hum of the separator (alternatingly we would hear the sounds of these two great grand machines as we approached them on our saddle horses as we rode over the golden stubble fields 'to watch the thresher run'), and cascading a column of sweet-scented straw smoke high in the summer sky, while teams and pitchers and bundle wagons moved along the rows of shocks in the field, bringing the grain-laden bundles into the ever-hungry thresher and its singing engine, while the water buck strung out across the field with six or eight head of horses snaking out in front of his water wagon with leather lines to bridles of his horses glittering in the sun. The cookhouse wagon setting up on the sidehill some place, smoke pouring from its cookstove and smoke-pipe, while busy cooks inside were getting meals ready for thirty or forty hungry harvesters.

The roustabout and hack and team would be off for groceries, fresh meat at the village store and the separate butcher shop. Axle grease, thresher oil, cup grease and crank-pin grease and steam cylinder oil, new pitch forks (three-tined bundle forks), harness rivets, harness leather, rubber packing for the hand-holes of the engine's boiler, or spiral packing for its tireless piston rod, or a new water gauge glass perhaps. Whatever it was, he, the roustabout, that indispensible man, and his team and buggy got it.

The busy sack sewers in the 'dog house' alongside the threshing machine, flashing their sharp needles and with fragrant linen twine dropping double half-hitches over the ears of fragrant new grain sacks faster than the eye could follow, then sewing up tight, even, neatly spaced stitches across the top of the jigged sacks of grain, pouring from the separator at a tremendous rate, smoothly and evenly done and flipped up to the knee and carried (135 pounds) to the five-high sack pile faster than it takes to tell it, by wonderful bib-over-alled men in blue shirts and red or blue bandanas around their necks and wearing gunny sacks laced around their overall legs to keep them from wearing out by all the rubbing of the heavy grain sacks on their knees; around two thousand sacks in a twelve hour day being put out by some of the big, efficiently run outfits of the Palouse.