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'The Crew' that attends to separating Kansas Wheat from its golden husk. Taken at Minneapolis, Kansas, in 1907. Mr. Henry Harbecke on the engine footboard and Harry Gray, the owner, near him on the tender. The rig is a Gaar-Scott engine and a Hu

R.D. 1, West Chicago, Illinois

The other factor is rain. Slowly and softly it steals over the
slumberer. Its pattering on the ground for the first minute or so
wafts them into a new scene in their dreams. The college student in
his dreams enters the class room and in the absence of the
professor plainly hears the click of chalk and erasers striking the
wall. The separator man is on the machine. He hears the wheat go
clattering through the blower and at once gets busy cleaning the
riddles. The hobo thinks he is not in dreamland but in a box-car on
a through freight. He plainly hears the cinders thrown out by the
engine beat against the sides of the car. The country boy is giving
his best girl a ride in his new red-wheeled buggy and as he glides
along distinctly hears the wind flutter the sails on her
merry-widow hat. A blinding streak of lightning, a terrible peal of
thunder and the slumberer is brought from negative to positive
reality. For a moment he stares into the inky blackness of the
night, and then quickly picking up his quilt, guided by the
lightning, he seeks shelter under a grain wagon. He hangs his quilt
on the coupling pole of the wagon and, standing on all fours, waits
for the rain to stop after which he resumes his night’s

In the morning he is not awakened by the corn sheller like
racket of an alarm clock, but by the hammering of a woodpecker, the
whistling of a bob-white, and the crowing and cackling that issues
from the neighboring barnyard. For a minute he yawns and rubs his
aching arms and shoulders and wonders if the sun did not take a
short cut in getting back to the east. The scream of the engine
whistle, however, soon tells him that breakfast is ready, and
putting his quilt in a gunny sack, he heads for the cook-shack
where he does justice to a plain but wholesome breakfast that is
served in a set of dishes composed mostly of preserve cans.

Having eaten his breakfast he goes out to the machine where he
finds the separator man already through oiling and inspecting the
machine, and the engineer sitting on the right driver of the engine
waiting for the signal. The farmer backs his wagon under the grain
spout of the machine, the separator man gives the signal and in a
few minutes the machine is howling for wheat. The pitchers –
usually four to six in number- work hard trying to satisfy the

The sun slowly rises higher and higher until about eleven
o’clock when it apparently stands still. The pitchers, as a
result of hard work and frequent visits to the water barrel, feel
weak and tired, and long for a moment’s rest. As they look
around and see the water boy lying in the shade of the engine and
the engineer sitting under the cab, apparently doing nothing except
staring at the separator man on the machine, they make up their
minds that they’ll get at least a minute’s rest. So while
the engineer is entertaining some girls on horseback that are
paying a visit to the machine, and the separator man is talking
with the grain hauler, they give each other a hint and pile the
feeder full of the wettest bundles they can find. One of them with
his fork holds the governor of the feeder open.

The machine cries

The machine is slugged. The engineer jumps to the throttle but
too late. The engine has jumped out of the belt. The separator man
at once gets busy pulling out the big bite on which the machine had
choked. To the pitchers this is like a good turn in a dream. The
howling of the machine has died away and the heavy cloud of dust
that hung over it has disappeared. The pitchers take bundles of
wheat on their forks and, running the fork handle into the stack,
sit down under the improvised umbrellas and wipe the sweat off
their brows. Only two or three minutes are they permitted to enjoy
the so-much-longed-for rest. The separator man soon has the machine
in running order and gives the signal, the engineer backs his
engine into the belt and the machine resumes its howl for more

Thus almost without variation one double day slowly follows
another until the season is over; but long before the last bundle
is thrown into the hungry jaws of the machine the pitchers make
solemn resolutions to the effect that they will never again follow
a threshing rig. However, when the next season opens, the mere
sound of a traction engine whistle, ‘like the call of the
wild,’ drives away what remains of these resolutions and sends
them out once more into the boundless wheat fields for another
season’s run.

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