THE OLD FARMER AND 'OLD BETSY' CONVERSE


| March/April 1956



Living Again the Days of Long Ago - Early-Day Threshing

The Dakota Farmer way back in 1937 had this article which we thought you will enjoy. When we asked the Dakota Farmer for permission to use this article and we had promised to give credit, the Editor replied, 'Credit or no credit use it if you wish.' If you knew how persnipperty these editors are about the material they coddle as well as I do you would enjoy this refreshing statement as much as I. The Editor.

That was not the first time that summer that Mother and I had talked about threshing. Only a few days before, we were on our way to town driving a span of ponies hitched to a light wagon. All the fields along the road had shocks standing so thick that off at a distance it looked like there wasn't room to drive a team and wagon in among them. 'What a wonderful crop!' Mother said: 'How in the world will they ever get it all threshed?' It was then I told her I intended buying a new steam threshing machine. 'Land sakes! No, Johnnie, not a steamer. It will blow you to Kingdom Come.' I told her 'No, I learned much about a steam engine the fall I fired for uncle Jack down in Minnesota,' and that I felt sure I could handle it all right.

Starting Up the New Outfit

It was on a Friday we pulled the rig out from town. Monday morning had been set for starting the shock run, and we planned on trying the rig out Saturday afternoon, threshing feed for anyone who cared to bring in a load. Old Mr. Johnson, who had promised to help me feed and tend separator that fall, came over early Saturday morning to help get ready. I wanted very much to thresh before anyone came, but there was work yet to do when Mother called us in to dinner.

Soon after that, neighbors came driving in with loads of oat bundles to be threshed, not only men and boys, but women and girls came along; they, too, wanted to see the new rig start. Each family brought a basket of good things to eat, planning on a big supper at our place that night after the threshing was done.

About 2:00 o'clock, Mr. Johnson said, 'Well Johnnie, as far as I can see she is ready to go; line up your engine and let's see what she will do.' I thought a great deal of our old neighbor, Mr. Johnson; he had helped me many times, and given me much good advice since my father had died. He came up close to me and said: 'Johnnie, my boy, don't let this bunch of men and women bother you; drive in slow and straight.' As good luck would have it, I have never made a truer lineup since.

We put on the belt and were ready to go; the horses were all very much afraid of the machine and it took much coaxing and petting to get them up near enough to unload the bundles. At last we were threshing; straw was coming out over the carrier, and nice plump oats into the bags.