Threshing The Wheat From The Chaff

1 / 6
Left to right: Ray Ernst and Ray Vorhies.
2 / 6
Myself, Neil Erickson, visiting with one of the spectators name unknown. My youngest son. Glen, (foreman and engineer) is on the engine other observer is also unknown. Courtesy of Neil R. Erickson, 2113 E. Wheeler Rd., Midland, Michigan 48640.
3 / 6
This picture was taken in 1890 on the Skelton Bros, farm east of Logansport, Indiana. Pierson Skelton is at the throttle. Walter Dunkle is standing at the rear. Courtesy of W. E. Fair, New Waverly, Indiana 46961.
4 / 6
Reversed. Courtesy of Charlie Harrison, R. D. 1, Butler, Ohio 44822.
5 / 6
This picture was taken in 1919 threshing with iver veum rig on John Oberg farm at Hoople, North Dakota. It is a 28 HP Minneapolis engine and 40 inch Minneapolis separator. 12 bunch teams and men. In all, 20 men and two cooks in the cook car breakfast at 5
6 / 6
Advance Rumely model taken in the early 1960s at a steam convention at Platte City, Missouri. Courtesy of Milton M. Glenn, 8625 West 60th St., Shawnee-Mission, Kansas 66202.

My friend who signs himself as The Ypsilanti Cockroach has
written another letter. He claims our column is not only ‘all
wet’, but it is grossly misnamed. La Cucarache goes on to
explain that it is impossible to ‘thresh wheat from the
chaff’, arguing as he does that the correct title should be
‘Threshing The Chaff’.

In my book this argument would be tantamount to ‘driving the
wagon instead of the horse,’ whereas you drive the horse only
to ride in the wagon. If La Cucarache had his way we would not be
allowed to say we were ‘shelling corn’, but instead would
have to say we are shelling cobs. It so happens that we ‘shell
the corn’ in order to eliminate the cob, because we happen to
eat the corn and not the cob. In like manner we thresh the wheat to
get rid of the chaff because we eat the wheat, not the chaff.

If my friend prefers to eat the cob rather than the corn, or the
chaff instead of the wheat, he hasn’t as yet ever mentioned
doing so. But, on second thought, who am I to judge, since
cockroaches have been known to eat many things that we

The Bible speaks of ‘Threshing the wheat from the
chaff’, as does all our literature in times past. And I’ve
yet to hear for the first time at any threshing reunion the
announcer’s voice coming over the loudspeakers, saying,
‘Now folks we are going to thresh chaff’. But I have many
times heard ‘We are going to thresh wheat.’

I am confident that if I were wrong in titling this column, many
an astute thresherman would have shot me through with arrows long
before this, and no lesser a dignitary than ‘Uncle Elmer’
himself would have called me onto the red carpet and placed me
under judgment of fire at the very beginning. And Elmer, I believe,
was a man who knew how to talk about threshing in the idiom of our

Continuing in our original and a-vowed mission of writing things
that may be of help to our brother thresher-men who still thresh
the wheat from the chaffa mission which Elmer Ritzman gave his
official blessing to from the very start we would like to review
some of the beneficial chit-chats we had with our many friends who
visited us during some of the summer reunions. There were the two
at the Rushville, Ind., show who stopped by to tell us how the Sea
Salt had been helping and to thank us for mentioning it. For others
who claim they weren’t ‘cured’ after sprinkling Sea
Salt over a few tomatoes we would like to add that arthritis is a
condition that has built up over the years. Health foods and
natural remedies require some time and patience as well as constant
use. It’s like a friend of mine who bought an expensive juicer
and thought he’d try carrot juice. After a glass or two he said
he felt about the same, and decided it wouldn’t work. Had he
kept at it every day, drinking a glass of raw carrot juice for
several weeks, he’d have noticed a great improvement.
That’s similar to the person I mentioned drinking carrot juice
to, and she replied, ‘Oh I eat a couple carrots every now and
then.’ It would take one a week to chew up enough carrots to
make one glass of carrot juice. The juicer is a high-speed machine
that breaks up the vegetable cells, tosses out the cellulose and
pours the raw, full-strength juice into your glass. The vitamins
that do the work are all compacted and concentrated in that
glassful. The waste is taken out, as a dry pulp.

At the recent Tri-State Gas and Engine Show at Portland, Ind.,
we were happy to see our friend, Mae, again. Being over eighty, we
had grown accustomed to see Mae walking over the reunion grounds by
the aid of a cane. But now she was making it without her usual
walking stick. She told us she had been taking two spoons of apple
vinegar and two of honey stirred into a glass of water, twice a day
which had made the improvement.

We have written before in these columns on the cider vinegar and
honey supplement which has reportedly helped many who have tried
it. The book, entitled, VERMONT FOLK MEDICINE, by Dr. Jarvis, hails
the apple cider vinegar and honey regime as most beneficial toward
relieving arthritis, and helping the body in many ways. For
instance the story is told of an experiment wherein hunting dogs
that tired around noon, after being given a little vinegar they
were able to run all day. Even experiments on livestock resulted in
much improvement. I have tried the cider vinegar-honey approach
several times putting the two spoons of apple vinegar and two of
honey into a glass of water, stirring the sticky contents
thoroughly, after which I’d sip it now and then through a meal.
It had a mild, pleasant taste, not the least offensive, but sort of
like a weakened cider. I discovered that I had more energy
throughout the full day. Actually, a glass in the morning, and one
in the evening would be best. Many have reported it has helped them
get around by relieving the pains of sore joints and muscles. The
chemistry of everyone’s physical make-up varies greatly from
person to person, and then there are those who do not try the Sea
Salt, simply because they don’t dare eat much salt. The
apple-cider and honey tonic would certainly be worth trying for
those who will avail themselves of this cheap and easy country
kitchen remedy. I think every thresher-man’s wife knows where
she can get some apple vinegar and honey old-time household
stand-bys that certainly need no doctor’s prescription and are
as close as the pantry shelf without having to set out on foot to
the village drugstore to acquire. Try it you may like it and who
knows, you may even drink the WHOLE THING and feel better by

At least no one should have to invest in an eight-cent stamp to
write us and ask, ‘Where can I get some vinegar and

At Tri State Show this August, a Columbus, Ohio, man who had
brought some gas engines to exhibit, told me that his wife had died
from too many pain pills and tranquilizers, prescribed by her
doctor. He said I am devoting the rest of my life to telling people
of the dangers of these pain-killing, tranquilizing drugs on the
market. It is a travesty of our times that too often the so-called
healing arts do not get at the cause of our ailments and treat them
from there. In place of giving the sick body natural foods and food
supplements to help it get well, pain killers are prescribed
instead. By having the pain killed, the patient often thinks
he’s received a quick cure. But the cause yet remains,
oftentimes worse because of the drug administered. America is often
referred to as the leading pill-swallowing nation in the world. The
pill gulpers who seek quick cures, but never get them, are the ones
who try Sea Salt only once, or drink a single glass of raw carrot
juice, or one glass of apple vinegar and honey and then quit
because Nature hasn’t had time to work some kind of miracle in
rebuilding their weakened bodies overnight.

Using natural foods and food supplements takes time to overcome
years of neglect, wrong food and abuse of our physical anatomy.
Whatever natural remedy you try, keep at it for weeks, even six
months to a year and then report. Oftentimes the improvement is
very gradual until you barely notice it. But one day you will
realize that you have improved over a period of time. And it is a
healthy improvement not just a pain killer, but one that removes
the cause of the pain.

A steam thresherman and his wife stopped by our Iron Man-GEM
stand at Tri-State Show, last week, to unload a message they had on
their hearts concerning the blind senior citizen segment of our
threshermen’s brotherhood who would like to be able to read The
Iron Men Album, but can’t.

‘There are many who would like to read these magazines many
who still have the fond memories but can’t because their sight
is gone,’ said the lady. ‘If only the magazines could be
printed in braille, the government would help by doing the work
free as part of their effort for the blind.’

I replied that I felt very few thresher-men would be educated to
read braille. But my school-librarian wife interjected by adding,
‘Talking Records would be the answer. The magazines could be
read by experts onto a record for the blind.’

I know of a friend in Greenville, Ohio, who derives many hours
of pleasure from the government program of Talking Book Records
which affords the sightless the mental stimulus of listening to
fine literature. Lack of sight need not deprive a person from
becoming acquainted with the world’s fine literature and
worthwhile information. And the program is sponsored by our
government, at very little cost to the blind, save for the few
cents in postage, at the low educational rates.

The president of the Elwood Steam Engine Show stopped by our
stand later at Tri-State Portland, Ind., Show, and told us of his
efforts in trying to get our government to issue a steam engine
stamp. He wanted me to get ‘the good word around’, by
having the readers write to their respective congressmen and
government officers in the interest of convincing them that such a
stamp would be very popular. And wouldn’t it be nice to go up
to your local post office window and be able to purchase some
stamps with the picture of a big steam thresh engine belted to a
separator- THRESHING THE WHEAT FROM THE CHAFF in some lovely
barnyard scene. My first suggestion was that familiar calendar
picture showing a Case Engine belted to a threshing machine which
we all are familiar with. But this gentleman from Elwood also had
some other fine suggestions which we aim to talk about later in
these columns.

Well, it looks like we have many things to be thankful for this
summer, blessings we’ve derived from seeing our many friends at
the big reunions now coming to a close for the season. Those who
are feeling better because of a few simple and inexpensive
household remedies derived from off their kitchen shelves, the
suggestions to help the blind enjoy reading the Iron Men Magazines,
and now the idea of a steam engine stamp. The Good Book says,
‘Cast thy bread upon the water and it will return.
‘Whatsoever thou gives away, it shall be given back, shaken
down and running over. ‘Wise men have told us for ages that we
can only keep what we give to others. Jesus taught that in loving
others, we receive love in return. ‘Whosoever give up his life
for Me, the same shall save it. And he who doth not give his life
to Me, the same shall lost it.’ And ‘Whosoever give up the
comforts of home and family for my sake shall receive the same a
hundred-fold both in life and the life to come.’

I am reminded of the little raccoon I found two summers ago. One
day I went out to get into our truck, and I heard something
chirring over by the big maple tree. Looking down at my feet, I
discovered a tiny ball of fur. It was a baby raccoon, lost from its
‘Momma’ and asking for help. We picked up the tiny,
helpless creature and showed it to our neighbor who loved wild
animals. He took it and cleaned its little furry body of the ticks
that had already fastened themselves into its tender hide. His
children immediately became attached to the little fellow which my
wife told them to christen, ‘Rascal’, from a book she has
in her school library about just such a pet raccoon. The tiny ball
of fur would often run across the big yard to greet us, sitting out
on our patio. He would share the cat’s food in our bowl, and,
as he grew he would climb our trees and even scramble up onto the
garage roof and play tag with our curious cat. After a year, with
Rascal grown pretty big in size, the neighbor man decided to take
him a distance up the road to the rod and gun club. The story
reached us that the man at the club had turned Rascal out free into
the woods.

Several times we heard our neighbor regret that he had given
Rascal away.

‘I guess we should have kept him,’ he’d say. ‘He
was a fine pet.’

This spring my wife called me out onto the patio one evening.
There was a big raccoon, eating out of our cat’s dish. He
didn’t run away when we approached, and he allowed me to take
his picture while eating, not even jumping when the flash bulb went

With our sweet corn patch coming along nicely, we decided to buy
up some big sacks of cheap dog food, and we kept Rascal’s bowl
full, feeling as we did that if he filled up on that, he
wouldn’t bother to climb the hill and raid the corn. He kept
coming night after night, and our corn patch was respected by
Rascal. One night I discovered a big possum also feeding out of the
same bowl with the raccoon. The possum would hiss if the cat or
raccoon interfered too close with his feeding. But Rascal allowed
both the cat and possum to share the food when he was eating.
Suddenly it dawned on us that this was the same little Rascal we
had given away. He had come back, after his wanderings, to be our
friend once again and liven our evenings for us. He became our
favorite topic of conversation. The little lost raccoon to whom
we’d given some love, was returning that love by his affection
for us.

I said to my wife one evening, ‘Like the man who cast his
bread upon the water and it returned, so we gave away our pet
Rascal and he has returned big, bushy-tailed and over-grown. Our
cup runneth over.’

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