Farm Collector

Threshing in China

426 Margaret Street, Akron 8, Ohio

Mr. Clarence Reed sends us this very interesting article on
Threshing Rice in China. Mr. Reed is a Well Drilling company man
who travels all over the earth in the interest of the Drilling
Industry. He is also intensely interested in our wonderful Hobby
and at every opportunity takes pictures and gives us a description.
I thank him and I know you thank him. Elmer

GREETINGS KIND FOLKS and best wishes for the new year, now
starting on its one way-journey. I wish to ask you to share with me
a bit of pleasure I get from pictures. They are free and welcome as
a handshake and do as you like with them. People who are quite
educated in photography sometimes tell me my pictures are fuzzy or
not too clear. I admit that those qualities disturb me more than
anything else, but there isn’t much I can do about it. To begin
with, I’m a farmer and well-driller, not a photographer. I
travel by air and can carry only a small camera. It’s a good
camera but enlarging to an 8×10 shows up my mistakes in no
uncertain manner. To friends who note this fuzzy condition, I’m
sometimes tempted to remind them of a saying my Dad had 50 years
ago. ‘You don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.’

The pictures show three different methods of threshing being
used in December of 1958. The grain is rice and the location is
Taiwan or Formosa. The Chinese on Taiwan, raise the best crops and
largest yields of grain observed in any of the south east Asia rice
growing areas. It’s a family affair, growing the crops, and
harvesting by hand and caribou power. The caribou or water buffalo
is a real beast of burden. The law protects him from being made
into T-bones until he is 20 years old and then you better have
pretty good choppers if you expect to eat him. I stick with fish,
you may get a bone in your throat, but that won’t choke you to
death as quick as a hunk of caribou meat. But excuse me, getting
off the track, we will now do some threshing.

Plate No. 1 shows a threshing floor after the grain has been
tramped out by caribou and the straw picked up. The grain is sifted
through the basket in the foreground. If the wind will be kind
enough to blow as it often does, much chaff and dust will go with
the wind. The grain is swept into rows where a sack or basket
scooped along the ground, with the aid of a couple of shovels can
quickly be filled and made ready for market. There isn’t much
to it, quite simple and easy, and anyway the women do the greater
part. Must say the women appear quite well trained. They don’t
talk much, go barefoot, work all the time and look after their men
in No. 1 fashion. After all, China has not been a nation for 5000
years and not developed any good ideas. But to continue with the
harvest.

Plate No. 2 shows rice on the way to market. This outfit became
stalled in a small stream on our road. We all got out and gave him
a push. Those caribou can really pull and don’t think they
can’t.

Plate 6. This outfit is not very complicated. It is a tub with a
high curtain around three sides. The tub has slats across the top
over which the rice is threshed as the family is doing in the
picture. They grab a rope and pull the tub (threshing machine)
along to the grain. A family does not work over a large farm, only
1, 2, 3 acres. The number of children and wives determine the
acreage, however, certain families may hire some neighbor boys and
girls. There were two nice looking girls in the above family but
they were camera shy and always remained behind the threshing
machine.

Plate 7. The machine shown in this threshing operation is quite
complicated and highly mechanized. I doubt if it will ever be
popular in the field because the women don’t seem to get along
very well with the outfit. But they may learn it yet. It’s a
good deal like the old Singer sewing machine we had at home. The
cylinder turns quite rapidly, but does not seem to require a lot of
leg work to keep it going. The thresherman holds to the butt end of
the bundle of grain, the whole time treading wildly and turning the
bundle of straw so that the grain will be knocked into the box.
When the grain is all out, the bundle of straw is tossed aside and
a new one is given the works. A helper comes along to remove
certain small broken straws that go into the box. The grain is
dipped out now and then. A rope hangs handy with which to pull the
machine about the field. A container of water hangs on the side, in
order that the crown sheet does not go dry.

So it goes, a way of life we don’t see every day. The job
gets done, young folks don’t have much time to wear out
Pop’s car and perhaps they enjoy a measure of happiness which
would surprise you. I must say that 99 per cent appeared happy and
looked well fed. The multitudes of small school children, clean as
a pin, sharp as a tack, and bubbling over with good health and
energy did not indicate such a bad way of life.

  • Published on May 1, 1959
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