Farm Collector



H. G. Nachtrab & Son of Box 113, Holland, Ohio, have
obtained permission from the editor of ‘Ford Farming,’ Mr.
Ben T. Logan, for us to reprint the following: story. The
Nachtrab’s thought you would enjoy it and we do too. They also
suggested using steam engine where tractor appears. Mr. Logan may
not like this liberty but it sounds so much more musical to we
steam fans.

OUT ON ‘Seldom Seen Ridge’ they still talk about that
year the shredder stayed all winter at our place, We were the last
job on the Ridge and the steamer, shredder and operator, a man
called ‘Nubbin”, were all getting old.

Trouble began on the first load. The belt broke, flipped out and
whacked Nubbin alongside the head. Nubbin had a temper that would
peel paint off a barn and he had a heavy hammer in his hand. He let
out a yell, reared back and let go at the shredder. The hammer
clanged into the spokes of a pulley and pieces began to fly.

When Nubbin got the shredder fixed the tractor wouldn’t run
right. Day after day the neighbors came over and hooked their teams
onto the loads of corn they’d left the day before. Some days, a
half dozen loads would run through before anything went wrong. The
trouble and Nubbin’s temper always got worse together. At first
he’d push and jerk at things, kind of at random, but the end
was always the same. His face gone bright red, Nubbin would start
jumping up and down and slamming away at the offending part with
his big hammer.

That would end shredding for the day.

Nubbin had a mysteriously never ending supply of nuts and bolts
of every description which he used in patching up the old rig. Some
nights we’d hear him cussing and pounding away out back of the
barn after we’d gone to bed.

Bad weather came early that year. And if it wasn’t the
weather, it was the steamer or shredder, and when both of them
worked, Nubbin would lay aside his hammer and go off on a

It got to a point where no one could remember when the shredder
hadn’t been there. We ran out of potatoes, butchered two extra
hogs and bought a barrel of cabbage. Some of the neighbor’s
horses had been there so often they always came over automatically
when they got out at home.

Every time Nubbin said he had things pounded back into shape,
we’d ring up the neighbors and try again. The men shoveled snow
off the loads and a mixture of ice, snow and fodder would go
rattling up into the mow. Some of the corn in the crib had four
feet of stalk hanging to the ears. The hired man swore the shredder
wasn’t even waking up the mice bedded down inside the

Finally, one day in late January, they pried the last shocks out
of the snow and ran all but five loads through before the shredder
clunked to a stop. The crew started husking out the rest by

Nubbin gave the shredder one last thundering whack with the
hammer, got his money and went away, leaving the rig where it was
for the rest of the winter.

On an early spring day, he came back with another steamer and
towed the whole outfit away.

‘I’m glad we’re rid of him,’ my father said.

When it came time to get out the machinery for the spring work,
it turned out we weren’t yet through with Nubbin.

The hired man hitched onto the gang plow and hollered ‘Get
up!’ The tongue dropped off, the double trees came loose and
the horses bolted out of there. For a split-second the hired man
was left sitting on the seat with his mouth hanging open. The slack
ran out of the lines before he could let go and he went flying out
of there like yellow jackets had gotten him.

H. F. Schaller using conventional oil can on a Port Huron 16 hp.
Compound Steam Traction. Schaller says, ‘We use this engine
every Summer for our annual Sweet Corn Festival. We usually cook
about 10 tons of sweet corn Cooking is accomplished by piping steam
into the bottom of several stock tanks. On the end of the steam
pipes we use a Penberthy water heater which cuts down the noise
which usually accompanies the release of live steam under
water.’ Mr. Schaller’s address is Mendota, Illinois.

No one realized they were on the verge of a discovery until
someone got weak from laughing and sat down on the mower. The seat
skittered out from under him and dumped him on the floor.
Meanwhile, the hired man had picked himself up. He leaned back
against a corn plow and a wheel fell off.

The source of Nubbin’s unlimited supply of nuts and bolts
was no longer a mystery. Every time the men moved a piece of
machinery, it collapsed. There wasn’t hardly a nut or bolt left
on the place. For awhile there, a lot of new words floated around
the machine shed and I got into trouble when I tried them out at
the house.

Nubbin, of course, had the good sense never to show up again on
Seldom. Seen Ridge. But the story of that year the shredder stayed
all winter gets better every year. Last time I heard an old timer
tell it, that hammer of Nubbin’s had gotten so big he could
hardly lift it.

  • Published on Jul 1, 1956
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