Saturday, August 09, 2008

Threshing in Times Past

Step back into a simpler time and connect with the past.

At an antique farm equipment show, one threshing machine can attract attention just because of its size and array of belts, chains and pulleys. Put two or more side by side, and you’re likely to draw a crowd. That's exactly what was happening at Pioneer Acres near Irricana where there annual Threshing Show was being held. I had not been to this neat place in a number of years, so when my dad asked me if I wanted to take in the show, I said "let's do it".
Threshing on the farm was a great time where the process began with the planting of the wheat and watching it grow into the golden harvest. The old wheat binder would bind together a bundle of wheat and then you walked through the wheat fields gathering these bundles and standing them up into a large shock, usually 11 bundles per shock. Then came time for the threshing. This was a time best described as a threshing ring where several farmers in the area gathered together for several days on one of their farms to thresh their wheat. Everybody helped everybody. The big old threshing machine was pulled onto each farm by a big old steam engine and was placed in a location where each farmer wanted his straw to be blown to. While this was happening, the farmers with several wagons pulled by horses would go to the wheat fields and load the bundles onto the wagons. They would then drive the “big” loads of wheat bundles to the threshing machine. At the threshing machine, each wagon load was pulled up as close as possible to the off loading chute and the bundles were thrown off and directly into the chute with the head of the bundle going in first. (The head of the bundle was the part with the grain).The bundles went into the threshing machine where the grain was separated and the straw was blown out into what eventually became a big stack, possibly 30 feet in diameter and 15 feet high. The separated grain flowed out of the machine and was caught in sacks or in wagonloads. Some of the highlights which I am sure every old timer remembers, was the job of loading (stacking) the wheat onto the wagons out in the fields. You pitched the bundles onto the wagons and just kept pitching and pitching until the wagon was so loaded and so high that you became very concerned about driving to the thresher without it tipping over.Another important aspect of this event was how the farmers all worked together, day after day, until all the farmers’ wheat had been threshed. It was a special time of caring and sharing; of knowing what true community fellowship was really like. The wives even let them eat together! The world of today is far different and will probably never know the true meaning of sharing an experience like a “threshing crew”.
Today we seem to be too busy to know the meaning of sharing a relationship of such importance. They not only worked together, they were a community together. You should take this show in sometime as it is a wonderful experience. My dad and I enjoyed it immensely and I do have to return more often. Of course there was a whole lot of other interesting things happening at Pioneer Acres, however I will have to save that for another day.

Before the combine, this would have been a familiar sight on the Canadian farm.
Remember, all photos expand

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