Threshing Wheat


In late June or early July the wheat was mature enough to reap. The horse drawn binder clattered across the field cutting the wheat and tossing neatly tied bundles onto the dry stubble. The next day dad, AL and Bill followed with pitchforks setting the bundles into shocks. The shocks stood in the fields for several days waiting for the thresher to arrive.

Threshing day arrived with a sputtering tractor dragging the squeaking rumbling thresher into our place from the neighbors farm. All the neighbor men worked together going from farm to farm following the thresher with their horse drawn hayracks. The men headed to the field to pick up bundles of shocked wheat to take them back to the threshing machine.

Finally the broad belt from the tractor began to move. The first hayracks rattled up and the first bundles were fed into the thresher. The machine spewed forth a shower of straw while the grain spilled into a horse drawn wagon.

By noon the men were tired, sweaty , hot and ready for dinner. Mom and I started getting things ready for the dinner the day before. We knew the men would be hungry. We killed and cleaned the chickens and made the pies and cakes. We couldn’t do to much ahead of time without refrigeration. We cleaned the house scrubbed the floors and dusted the furniture.

On threshing day mom and I got busy cooking over the wood stove in the hot steamy kitchen. We fried the chicken, mashed the potatoes, opened the canned green beans and peaches and made the tea and coffee. We set up two basins of water and hung up several towels on nails on the back porch so the men could “wash up” before dinner.

The eight or so men along with Al and Bill sat around the large kitchen table, ate heartily, complimented the cooks and talked about the crop they were harvesting, comparing it to the other fields. They slowly sipped their tea or coffee rested a bit and headed back to the fields.

Meanwhile mom and I were busy cleaning up the lunch dishes. At three o’clock it was time to take lunch to the guys in the field. WE filled one shiny empty syrup pail with lemonade and another with cool water. We made bologna sandwiches and took the leftover cake and carried it out to the field.

I always hoped the men wouldn’t eat all the sandwiches because we never had bologna sandwiches at any other time since it wasn’t produced on the farm . We all thought a bologna sandwich was a real treat.

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