Country Echoes

MAE BABER, R. D. 2, Brandon, Wisconsin

IT MAY BE THIS PARTICULAR summer morning that one of our Steam
Engine Brothers is searching in vain for a tail pipe for his tender
or a fan for his flues. (I wish I understood these things).

Indeed, you have a problem! Well now, don’t ever think you
are alone in this. So have I. Mine, however, is of quite a
different nature. You answer it for me, if you can.

How does one suddenly project herself from January to July? Here
I sit, cozily, near a radiantly warm register trying to write this
column for July or August, perhaps even September. How does one
anticipate what Aunt Lene might do? She’s a woman too, and the
species do react unexpectedly at times.

Ah me! The last thing I remember from yesterday is the tank
truck for our milk at 9:30 P. M., and the milkman telling my
husband it was the seventh place he had made all day out of his
forty-two stops. There is snow to the ‘left of us’ and
‘snow to the right of us’ and while it doesn’t
‘volley and thunder’ it surely rolls. Wisconsin hasn’t
been treated to a blizzard like this one for several years. I
needed a junior size snow plow before the day was over to get
through the popcorn which one of our sons popped in three
installments. ‘Morning, afternoon, and evening it’s
popcorn’ is John’s slogan. In the afternoon session it was
gooey, sticky particles that would not cooperate with one another
to form balls so this was happily consumed via adhesive teaspoons.
Do you know of what I was reminded?

ONCE UPON A TIME there was a peaceful neighborhood. The sun
shone so beautifully. The birds sang so sweetly. The flowers vied
with one another to excel in brilliance. Ah! This was a good day to
be alive, but only until Steam Engine Sam rolled his threshing
machine out of its abiding place. There was brisk sweeping off of
accumulated dust, a good bit of oiling, belts to repair, bolts to
tighten and sundry other things until at last Steam Engine Sam and
his patient partners were ready to take on the waiting grain

A bit of cloud appeared in the sky. Directly beneath this
ominous cloud appeared Roscoe Raisafuss, declaring with vehemence
that ‘Surely my grain was cut first and you should start out at
my farm’, while portly and prosperous Henry A. Howler made a
flying buggy-wheeled entrance into Sana’s sun-drenched
driveway. His case was quickly stated. ‘Mine was riper when I
cut it.’ Poor Sam gripped his wrench in exasperation while
concerned creases appeared in his weathered brow. Sam was a peace
loving Christian man. The long days he could take but why always
this wild blizzard of ‘Me First?’ Every year there was the
same derogatory recurrence. Sure enough, here came Freddie Failure
into Sam’s tidy door-yard. Why didn’t he go home and repair
his bins so they would hold grain? Slowly Sam emerged from behind
the dripping old water wagon. THIS was the curse of threshing. He
knew this storm wouldn’t abate until January or February when
as the result of a big blow neighbors had no alternative except
making up. How else could they exchange everything from butter to
baking beans when the white winds cut them off from relieved
relatives and the snug shop-keepers in the village?

At the close of day Stolid Sam drew his wife down beside him
upon the worn divan. Perky, his dog, stretched himself prone at his
feet. Devotedly he reached for his Bible to have it open to Psalms
133. ‘Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to
dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the
head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that
went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and
as the dew descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord
commanded the blessing, even life forever more.’

Sam read the passage and re-read it until his wife sent
questioning glances in his direction. Then brokenly poor Sam just
wept for joy. This was never the way God wanted things to be in a
neighborhood. How glad he was that earth was only a temporary
dwelling place.

NOW I know why John’s popcorn balls did not adhere. The
syrup did not cook long enough. And another thing I am sure of.
Much as we love steam engines and remember threshing days with
longing, that old steam which Sam’s case produced never did too
much to congeal the neighborhood. It took a good old white blizzard
to do that. Now as you store away your combine think of it as a

Whoops I see the old shoes come flying. Where did I come in
anyway? Or perhaps it is more important, HOW DO I GET OUT?

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment