The Changing Harvest

By Ralph Chain

I cannot believe how harvest has changed in my lifetime. I can remember when we started harvesting, we used an eight to ten-foot binder pulled by four head of mules. The binder cut the wheat, tied it in bundles and the bundles were then picked up and shocked with the butts of wheat on the ground and the heads in the air to keep the heads dry. We could always bind wheat about one week before we could combine it.

We started the combine, a 20-foot Rumley pulled by a Rumley tractor. It took one man to drive the tractor and one man on the combine, and we had no idea what an air conditioner was. The man on the combine raised and lowered the platform and started the combine. After we finished combining, we started the threshing machine, picking up the bundles that were shocked. This took 10 to 12 men, who stayed with us until the threshing was over. They brought their own bedrolls and ate three meals a day with us prepared by my mother and grandmother. They also took baths in the horse tank.

I can remember how my mother and grandmother fed all the guys. That was in the days before the refrigerator. If they fixed chicken, the chickens were killed the morning the day of the dinner. If we had beef, the beef was killed and hung on the windmill or in a tree to keep it from spoiling. Looking at the pictures of the threshing crews back then—you do not see any fat men.

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