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Monday, April 3, 2017

I Watched Threshing and ...

My uncles and their neighbors in Polk Country, Wisconsin called it a “threshing machine.” I have friends from Minnesota and the Dakotas who call it a “separator.” By either name it was the large machine that was shared by several farmers who would go from farm-to-farm, bringing tractor and family and food to help the host farm harvest and separate its grain. I witnessed this exciting productivity a few times as a young kid—one time on a neighbor farm. There, I remember seeing my sister Judy come out of a shed on a large farm wagon loaded with several other kids. A tractor was pulling the wagon to where it could join the process. I saw with silent horror that Judy supported herself with her hand on-and-around one of the staves on the side of the wagon which came out of the shed almost scraping that side of the opening. Sure enough her arm got jammed between stave and door frame breaking her arm. It could have been worse.

Otherwise I witnessed the threshing at my uncle Verle Pratt's place, on the house side of the barn. One tractor was set up to provide the power which came from a long, twisted belt that ran from the roller on the tractor to the machine. I still don't understand how they managed to set it up so that the belt stayed on. Other tractors ran from the machine to the field and back to get the grain. The grain got sacked at the side of the machine. The straw came off elsewhere. I can't remember if it made a mountainous pile or filled wagons.

I do realize my memory confuses two processes, because I remember the same exciting activity set up in the same location when corn came in and silage was chopped in another large machine and shot up a “spout” or conveyor to the top of the silo. It filled the silo to provided a winter's worth of silage for Verle and Irene's dairy cows. I see a threshing machine, but I know I see it wrong (OK, "wrongly"). It was similar but different.

I was way too young when I watched these processes to consider myself or be considered as potential help to the work. I suspect my memories are from the late 1940s. While the broken arm is the only specific event that comes close to being a story, these images of threshing and silo filling fill me with nostalgia for my “farm days” as a young city kid.

(c) from date of posting, by Bob Komives, Fort Collins 

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