We Burned The Last Of The Old Stump Fence

| November/December 1994

R.R.3 Shawville, Quebec JOX 2Y0

Sawyer Massey 17 HP portable, 1896. Leaning against wood wagon is Bill Armstrong from Campbellfort, Ontario. Standing behind him is David Strong from Perth, Ontario; he is the engineer.

We had finished cutting grain the sixth of August, 1993, and had it all stooked. My wife Evelyn, Robert Smith, and I had finished it and we were getting ready to thresh, hopefully, on August 28, 1993. It had been quite wet up here all summer. It would rain and not get sunny, then it would rain again. Robert and I had gotten the Sawyer Massey 17 HP traction engine finished, putting another boiler on it. Rob had it all painted and ready to run. On the second of July with everything new on it, we could put on an engine. We wanted to see it threshing once again. This would make us three engines and three mills.

Every wet day we would go and load up some more old pine roots, for they really make a hot fire and a lot of black smoke. It would be great for the people who are taking pictures every year at our threshing, held on our farm. Years ago, old pine stumps really were a main source of wood for threshing when it was done with steam. The old boys would chop these up, with the axe, small enough to get in the fire door of the engine. There was a lot of sweat at this job. In the old days, up in this part of the country, there were lots of stump fences built out of old pine roots found lying around everywhere. Well, with the wet weather the way it was, we would need a lot of wood. The straw and grain were both very wet this fall. The humidity was very high and it was hard to keep the stooks from growing in the fields. A separator man with three mills to look after had quite a job, to say the least, with blowers plugging and baggers plugging. That made it very busy for one man to keep everything running. We started to thresh at 8:00 a.m. Saturday, the 28th of August. The Wednesday before, Glen Moore and Garnet Martineau and Robert Smith and I had loaded up some grain on the wagons and put it in the shed to be dry for our threshing. On Friday, Keith Miller and Arnold Fiebig came over to help set up the mills and engines, greasing everything up to be ready for Saturday, the threshing day. On Friday about four o'clock, in came Brian Been from Packenham, Ontario, with his 1929 International truck, a one ton, which we would use to draw grain back to the grainery with. On Saturday morning, along came Glen Nugent with his 1949 Fargo ton to draw grain with also. What a nice pair of trucks to do the job, all painted and shined up. Well, we got started to thresh, and everything went backwards for a while 'til we got running and the inside of the mills were shined up and the wet straw would go through better. About 10 o'clock Evelyn came out to me and said, 'If you want dinner, come in and light the propane stove to cook two bags of potatoes and fifty pounds of carrots.' Well, of course I wanted dinner, so in I came. She had cooked seven large roasts of beef, on another stove, and they were all okay. I left the mills and went to the house right away because a fellow's tummy comes first. She had some ladies helping her and they had set up four big 16 foot tables to have everyone sit down at to eat. Well, I got the stove lit for her and got back to the mills which seemed to be running better. Now I thanked the good Man above for that. With three outfits going at once it makes a wonderful sight. Keith Miller was on the Sawyer Massey traction engine, Arnold Fieberg on the Case, and David Strong ran the Sawyer Massey portable with wooden wheels which was driving the Favorite mill. The Case engine was on the big IHC mill with the long drive belt, 150 feet long. The Sawyer traction was on the 22-38 IHC mill. What a sight to watch all this going at once! The little John Deere BR was drawing water for all the engines from the big water tank in the yard which holds 750 gallons of water and is eight feet off the ground. We can fill all the thresher tanks with a 2' hose. Just drive by and fill your tank. It sure doesn't take you long to fill them up. At 12 o'clock the noon whistles blew for dinner. Evelyn said over 100 people ate a lovely dinner, with other people bringing in food also. And in the evening there were more people who were here for supper than we had for dinner! Oh, along about 2 o'clock the fiddlers started arriving and we had music all afternoon. Well, we had supper and I went to milk the cows. Then the music started after supper, and when I was done milking there was some crowd there for the evening fun. Everyone had a great time. We played music until about 11 o'clock, then everyone went to the house for cakes, pies, sandwiches, and you name it, it was on the table. Lots for all of the people to eat. All in all we had threshed about 1500 bushels of oats that day, not as much oats as the year before (1992), but still very good for the way the summer was. My wife told me later that the oldest man at the threshing was 92 years old and the youngest was three years old.

Well, as I said before, it took a lot of wood. That's why we just burned the last of the old stump fence.

The three engines getting filled up with water from the water tank. Getting ready for threshing, from right to left, are the Case 45 (1911) portable, Sawyer Massey traction 17 HP, and Sawyer Massey portable 17 HP.