Threshing Rings and the Family Farm

Illinois woman recalls the goings-on during threshing time at her family farm

| Good Old Days

Threshing was an interesting time. Dad owned a threshing machine and threshed for six or seven neighbors as well as himself. Those in Dad's threshing ring helped each other. The day they threshed at our house, we girls sat in an old wagon seat beside the backyard gate and watched the wagons come. The rack wagons came first. Younger farmers handled the racks, drove to the field and loaded the wagons with bundles of oats. Grandpa was one of the older farmers, and drove one of the box wagons.

The bundles of oats were pitched into the feeder of the threshing machine. The box wagon had to be in position to catch the grain. Dad thought the man on the box wagon had the heavier duty because he had to scoop the oats into the empty bin in the granary. After the grain bin was filled, oats were hauled to the elevator in White Heath to be sold.

Corn harvest started around October 20th. I remember hearing horses trotting down the lane at daylight, the empty wagon rattling, and Dad whistling a merry tune as he drove to the field. We noticed farmers shucking corn in fields all around as we walked to school. We heard ears of corn, clean of shucks, make a "bang" when the farmers tossed corn into the wagon and the ears hit the bump board. The bump board prevented the corn from going over the wagon. When the wagon was full, the men drove to the crib to dump; farm scales were used to weigh the load. Wagons were pulled into place beside the corn crib, and chains were fastened to the front wheel axles in order to lift the wagon high enough to force the corn to roll out. A motor moved the elevator chains that carried corn up and into the top of the crib. After dinner, the men went back to the field. The hired man was anxious to shuck 100 bushels a day. Dad paid 5 cents per bushel.

Farmers were tired each evening after a day of shucking corn. Their gloves would get wet on frosty mornings, and their hands would get chapped and sore. Their backs would ache from reaching to the ground to get corn from broken stalks.

We girls had more chores to do in autumn. All three lamps had to be filled with kerosene. Lamp flues had to be washed. More coal and corncobs had to be carried to the house to be used in the heating stove and the cookstove.

Mother enjoyed autumn. The long busy summer days were over, and the cellar was stocked with the fruits of her labor: canned food, late cabbage, turnips, onions, apples, pears, potatoes and pumpkins.

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