July 26th……….“TELL US, GRANDPA, ABOUT TIMES ON YOUR FARM WHEN THE WORD “FAMILY” HAD A MUCH BROADER MEANING THAN SIMPLY A DAD, MOM AND KIDS”.
Cawing crows catapulted themselves from the treetops of our windbreak as they were startled by the screeching, air-powered whistles on the behemoth-sized “Case” Steam Engine that approached our farm from the south. Upon that Minnesota gravel road, the smoke-belching, gargantuan power house, with its iron wheels, pulled what looked like an enormous metal dragon behind it, also upon bare iron wheels.
The Noorlun’s young, first born son, Lowell, felt the ground near our driveway begin to rumble and quake from the immense, squeaking and crushing sound of gravel under those iron wheels making the turn into our south U-shaped driveway.
Little “Lowey’s” legs lit up, inside those bib overalls, and he took off towards the house on a full run, just like the old “town crier”, hollering “Dad!!! Mom!!!! The threshing crew is here”!!!!!
Harvest times were one of many occasions, throughout the year, when the small, family farm culture of our area came alive with the blessed reality that “no man is an island and no man stands alone”. Our immediate family cluster was sweetly under the all-encompassing giant umbrella of untold numbers of other small family farms of our locale that relied on one another to accomplish everything from harvesting all the way to being “first responders” in injuries or illnesses to other fellow farmers.
On that special, sparkling Midwest morning, our family were to be the recipients of local love and blessings shown by groups of neighbors and this amazing metal marvel called a “Threshing Machine” that was now making its way to the west of our orchard where “shocks” (usually 5 to 10 sheaves stacked vertically) of oats were standing in clusters where they’d been recently harvested with a cutting and tying machine called a “Binder”.
Pretty soon, Lowell, and his little sister, Rosemary, heard the sounds of tractors and wagons coming towards them from both north and south of our farm. One could hear these men shifting down the gears of their tractors, to make the turn into the driveways of our farm. There came to us men from the Mutschler, Ozmun, Heitzeg and Bauman families, just to mention a few. Behind their tractors they pulled implements like “flat racks” and “grain wagons”, etc. so that this “Threshing Bee” would be a success seeing oat kernels removed from their dried stalks and the grain then augered up high and into our Granary Building.
Once in place, on the oats field, the Case Steam Engine unhooked itself from the Threshing Machine and maneuvered around to face the thresher from a distance. A very long pulley belt was uncoiled and placed over a “fly wheel” on both the steam tractor and the thresher. The driver of the steam tractor backed up ever so gently to bring the pulley belt taut enough to, when engaged, cause the myriad of mechanical “munchers”, within the threshing machine, to chew and separate the tiny oat kernels from its dried mother plant and send it to a waiting wagon.
Those of our neighbors with “flat racks” on their tractors drove from “shock” to “shock” and tossed the sheaves of oats onto the wagon. When full, the wagon pulled up alongside the thresher as the steam engine tractor engaged its massive, round “fly wheel”, causing the thresher and its myriad of parts to come alive with motion and movement. Workers then, using pitch forks, tossed oat sheaves onto a conveyor belt that pulled them into the thresher to be separated from the plant stalks and sent into a waiting grain wagon to be towed up to our yard and in front of our Granary with the grain auger that angled skyward to the upper roof access doorway.
Back at the threshing machine site, the chaff and straw, left over from threshing the oats, was blown out the back of the threshing machine and mounded on the ground to a golden yellow mountain of what would be used as bedding for our animals over the winter months.
Wagons, full to the brim with oats, were then lugged by their tractor and operator up to the front of our Granary Building at the main farm place. Once in position, the hinged “hopper” of the grain auger was let down behind the grain wagon. A nearby tractor was assigned to run this helical screw conveyor auger via the connection of what was known as the PTO (Power Take Off). The screw-type conveyor inside the very long metal tube started spinning. As it did, the lift gate of the wagon was opened and untold bushels of oats began flowing out and down into the “hopper” that caught the oats and began their ascent up, up, up and into the roof doorway of our Granary Building. Inside the Granary, our father, Russell, and helpers were busy shoveling oats to the corners of each storeroom so as to utilized every space possible for that year’s grain crop.
In the dappled coolness of our shade trees, our mother, Clarice, plus her “army” of ladies were preparing a feast to feed these fine fellow farmers for all their sweaty efforts to bless us with this harvest. Machines were put to rest while hands, arms and faces were washed in chilled waters from our well’s pump house. It was time to give God thanks for this fine food and fellowship of families who came together to be a gigantic blessing to the entire family of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.!! 😉 ><>