Dick Hunt's Blog

August 15, 2012

Threshing, A Thirty Day Run.

Threshing, A Thirty Day Run.
by Dick Hunt, August 15th, 2012.

A few days ago, I received a message from a friend who had just attended a “Thresherman’s Reunion” in Manitoba. That triggered memories going back to 1924. That was the year my Father loaned a man the money he required to purchase a threshing outfit, which loan was to be repaid by threshing our crops for a number of years to abet repayment funds.However, the man defaulted badly and never kept his word beyond the first season. So my Father had bought himself a rig including a 110 Horsepower J.I.Case Steam Tractor, a J. I. Case 36/44 Steel Grain Separator, a Water Tank on a wagon, a large meal preparation wagon with room to seat around 20 people and a stove, and room for the cook and her helper.

He owned it and operated it with capable staff until 1927 when he sold the Steam Engine to a man who drove it to his place of business 28 miles north, at two miles an hour, it took 14 hours, it’s top speed. He used it to pull a Twelve Bottom Breaking Plow on virgin sod, turning over 14 feet per sweep, for neighbours. In the meantime, Dad bought a J.I. Case 18/32 Kerosene burning tractor on steel wheels and six inch spade lugs wheels to replace the Steamer. It had a cross mounted Motor and was a good belt driving rig. We used that one until 1936 until Dad bought a Model L Case on rubber tires which was much better for our purposes all around. Meanwhile, my eldest brother Wilfred, blossomed into a fine mechanic with abilities to understand instructions and operated the whole outfit for years, doing custom work for neighbours and our own crops, a thirty day run year after year.

In the meantime Dad and Mother had moved to Calgary and I was in partnership with Wilf on the Ranch. One year during threshing time at home, we had a man on the crew who was a communist and a thorn in the side, trying to turn the crew against us. One day as we were threshing grain, one of the teamsters unloading his bundles into the machine struck something strange as he thrust his fork into a bundle. Reaching, down he found a fist sized rock inside a bundle. It could only be there if deliberately placed there by a person. He signaled Wilf who came to him and told him of his discovery, whereupon Wilf shut down the machine. The communist disappeared in a hurry, rather than stick around for interrogation. The crew was then asked to be be very careful to check each bundle for rocks, badly slowing the progress.

Had the rock gone into the machine it would have totally wrecked it, thrown off the drive belts, caused a most awesome noise, caused several teams of horses to be panicked into running away, put the whole outfit out of business beyond any further use and probably caused grievious injuries to some of the crew. However, the threshing machine is still parked near the original buildings on the old ranch location and could easily be serviced and put back into service. It has long since been replaced by modern machines which do the same amount of harvesting with one man driving a modern Combine with a comfortable cab, stopping to unload the grain into a truck. With the Steam tractor, we used 14 teams of horses on Bundle Wagons, others on the water tank, the fuel wagon, the grain wagons if we were not putting the grain directly into granaries. Four field pitchers, two spike pitchers. All these changes within my span of memories.

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