July 10th…………“DID YOUR FATHER DO ANY FARMING WITH HORSES? DID HE HAVE NAMES FOR THEM? WHAT WAS ONE OPERATION HE USED THE HORSES FOR”??
With princely, patriarchal pandiculation, our handsome farmer father sat on the edge of his bed that morning yawning himself awake. Wiping the sleep from his eyes, Russ could hear the lovely sound of Mourning Doves out in our surrounding “wind break” of trees. Their plaintive song of three or four descending “coos” filtered through the rustling curtains of our parent’s open bedroom window; allowing the Minnesota morning breezes to freshen our parents both fully awake.
Dad now heard his bride, Clarice, in the family Kitchen, next to their bedroom, getting some Folger’s coffee percolating to help them both approach another day there on our farm northwest of Kiester, Minnesota.
This was to be more than just an ordinary day in our rural livelihood, this was to be the day that our agrarian prince would take his handsome team of horses and hook them up to his two-row “Deere Rotary Drop Planter” (also known as a “check row” planter) for planting our new corn crop.
Although this device only planted two rows of corn at a time, it was still a major improvement over the old hand-operated corn planter of the days gone by.
Our equine Belgian draft horse team of “King” and “Colonel” fluttered their soft, hirsute nostrils in greeting to Dad as he stepped into the barn that morning to see to their feeding while he mounted the fragrant leather harnessing onto their marbled, muscular backs.
With every rein threaded through its rings and every connecting clip snapped into place, it was time to take this muscled mass of horse flesh out of the barn and over to the corn planter to be hooked up and ready to work. Loose seed corn was now loaded into the two respective dispensing canisters onboard the planter and, with a gentle slap of the reins and an audial “Gid Up!! King n Colonel”.…….the team was driven by our father out to the field that needed to be planted.
In the days before herbicides became chemically popular in agriculture, farmers found other ways to try to eliminate as many unwelcome weeds as possible from their fields. That’s what made this two-row planter, that Dad was using, special. Another descriptive term for this machine was a “Click Planter” and here’s why. A large spool of wire, with a wire “knot” tied every 40 inches, was played out for the length of the field you’re going to plant. The wire line was tethered, temporarily, by fence posts at each end of that row and then drawn taught. The wire “knot” line was then fed through a special set of guidance wheels on the planter. During the planting operation, as each “knot” came through the planter, a wire “knot” would pull back a switch lever that opened the “gate” of the planter’s dispensing canisters letting seed into the ground. As the “knot” went up and over the switch lever, the spring-loaded lever would CLICK back into place, thus, with that sound, came the supplemental term “click planter”.
With practice, upon completion of planting, the soon to emerge young corn plants were all now roughly 40 inches apart in all directions.
This way, when the young corn started its new life in our field, Dad could cultivate the weeds out of the field going north and south for one weeding pass. He then, could begin cultivating out the weeds with an east to west swathing that, at the end of the day, gave him a clean field of young corn, free from weeds. Planting and tilling the land was, without a doubt, hard work for our farmer father, but we were proud of Dad for his faithful tenacity in getting the job done for the entire family of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son. 😉