Farm Collector


Roberts County

When I went in the house, Mother had been to bed a long time.
She called to me: ‘If you are hungry, Johnnie, 1 will get up
and get something for you to eat.’ ‘Gosh, no, Ma; when we
finished threshing about 8:00 o’clock, Mrs. Olson and the girls
had a supper ready fit for a king and we all ate so much we could
hardly get away from the table.’ Then she wanted to know where
was Ben and Charley. They, after helping me take care of the tank
team, had walked on home. ‘Well’, Mother was saying ‘I
am so glad the threshing is done; now you can be at home again, and
I kind of feel it in my bones a storm’s coming.

Sure enough, next morning it was snowing hard with three or four
inches already on the ground. How good it seemed with the fall work
all done, the rig pulled home and the snow coming down so thick and
fast. Now there would be plenty of time to rest and attend parties
and the many gatherings during the long winter. Folks, those days,
didn’t dread the winter the way they seem to now; everyone
worked hard all summer and when winter came it was more like a
holiday or vacation. There were no telephones, radios or cars but
everyone, young and old, visited back and forth and went to
parties, spelling matches, singing schools, and so on.

If a neighbor had hard luck, such as sickness or a fire,
everyone was ready and willing to help him out. We never heard
anyone cussing Uncle Sam, wondering why he didn’t do this or
why he didn’t do that; in fact, we seldom heard anyone speak of
Uncle Sam unless it was that he had granted some soldier or
soldier’s widow a pension, or that by going farther west he
still had homesteads free to anyone that would live on and improve
one for five years.

We put in many falls threshing after that, some were good and
some not so good, with plenty of fun and many hard knocks.

Then, the old engine seemed to murmur again: ‘Do you
remember the time Jerry bet you his hat that he, with his big
barley fork, could stack more straw than you or any other man could
put through the machine? That, John, was the only time I ever saw
you do a real careless thing. When Jerry wasn’t looking, you
screwed the safety valve down a couple of turns, told Ben, your
fireman, ‘Boy, I want some steam and then some more steam.’
Then you pulled off your old greasy jacket and went back to the
separator and started feeding?’ Yes, I have thought of that a
great many times; that was a thoughtless thing to do, but how eager
all the boys were to get into the fun that was coming. And how the
bundles did fly. Boy, Oh, Boy. did the straw go through that

Jerry, like many other young men, sometimes bragged of what he
could do; but he was a real manno one else on the job could have
cared for the straw he did that afternoon. But when the stack got
so high he could care for it no longer, he shoved a big forkful
down, under the carrier, stopping the whole works and, with his
shirt wringing wet, came sliding down; then, he handed me his old
straw hat, saying, ‘It will soon be too cold to wear it

I remember too, the time a railroad spike went through the
machine. We never did find out where that old spike came from, but
we do know that after it went through, all of the conclaves were so
smashed to pieces, and many of the cylinder teeth were bent or
broken. I drove that little team more than 80 miles that afternoon
and night, put in the new conclaves, repaired the cylinder and Ben
had steam up all ready to go at daylight the next morning.

Then, from far away, as it seemed to the old man, he could hear
someone softly calling, ‘Gran’pa, Gran’pa supper’s
ready.’ His little granddaughter, Betty, who seemed to
understand him better than anyone else came running to him saying,
‘Oh, grandpa, I just knew I would find you out here; you have
been having another one of your nice dreams. Tell me all about it,
please.’ Yes, Betty, the best of them all. Why, everything was
so real and plain it is hard yet for me to believe it was only a

Then, with a long-drawn sigh, he said, ‘Betty, my girl, I am
getting old; I should not be telling you all of my foolish
dreams’. The little girl threw her arms around the old
man’s neck, hugged him up tight and said, ‘Grandpa, they
are not foolish dreams; you are living again the days of long

  • Published on May 1, 1956
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