Making hay old school
HOMER — April Patten, of Boone, spent part of her day on top of a hay wagon, pitchfork in hand, feeding yellow oat stalks into an antique threshing machine built before anyone on the grounds of the West Central Region Cockshutt and Co-op Club Threshing Bee was born.
The machine, with exposed gears and a tendency toward needing constant adjustments, was being powered by a vintage Minneapolis Moline tractor.
“It’s hard work and it’s very itchy,” Patten said as she wiped her brow.
Threshing machines were replaced by combines that cut the grain, then separate the chaff from the kernels, generations ago.
Feeding the antique gave her a view into the past.
“It gives you a whole new perspective,” she said.
Joey Scott, of Boone, also spent part of the day on top of the hay wagon sharing the chore with Patten.
It didn’t take him long to appreciate the modern combine.
“One hundred percent,” he said.
For part of the day, the threshing machine was hooked up to Dan Hodgson’s 1951 Minneapolis Moline UTU that he brought to the show from his home in Boone.
The wind was blowing just right Saturday so that he was able to avoid exposure to the itchy chaff from the threshing operation.
“The wind is going that way,” he said, pointing well away from his machine.
Last year, he wasn’t so lucky.
“Last year I got grain dust and chaff in the exhaust manifold,” he said. “The chaff caught fire.”
Keith Stuhrenberg, of Barnum, brought some of his collection of hit-and-miss engines. He owns 27 of the machines named after their tendency to turn several revolutions before the single cylinder actually fires. They were used on farms to power everything from water pumps to washing machines.
One of them, a 1919 Economy 1 1/2 Horsepower was giving him trouble.
“It was the carb,” he said. “It got some junk in the needle valve.”
Many today would not know what a carburetor or a needle valve is, much less how to work on one.
“It’s all fuel-injected now,” he said.
For Stuhrenberg, working on the old engines is all about the challenge.
“Half the fun is getting them going,” he said.
That’s not always easy.
“I fail a lot,” he said. “It’s the fun part when you do win though.”
Jordan Schroeder, of Boone, was getting an introduction to the old tractors and other machinery from his girlfriend Taylor Stevens, also of Boone.
“I grew up here,” she said. “I brought him.”
She had other “plans” for him as well.
“He’s going to help with the sawmill,” she said.
Some itching might be on his agenda later in the day too.
“I’m going to get up there and help with the hay,” Schroeder said.
He said he was enjoying his visit and the learning experience of discovering how things were done on farms long ago. He was especially impressed after watching Ty Murray, of Stratford, create his art on his blacksmith’s forge.
“I really enjoyed the blacksmith,” he said. “How much hard work he puts into it.”
The Threshing Bee continues today with a weather permitting tractor ride from Homer to the Brushy Creek State Recreation Area.
Admission is $5 and the food stand opens at noon.