Stories from the Threshing Bee
Memories of days gone by are as powerful as the rumble of antique machinery.
drove to the Fred and Sylvia Duin farm to observe an old-fashioned threshing bee on a Saturday afternoon in August. Upon arrival, I joined the crowd and admired a display of old-time machinery, tools and equipment. Everywhere I looked, I thought, I remember this, I remember that; my grandparents had one just like this on their farm.
The main attraction was the big threshing machine. Compared with modern farm machinery filled with computers, the old thresher looked like a dinosaur.
At the loading end, also known as the hopper, were wagons piled high with bundles of oats. A long, wide belt with the familiar halftwist connected the threshing machine to its source of power, an antique tractor.
II took a position standing behind the tractor looking down the long belt, right into the hopper that would feed the grain bundles into the machine. I was really interested and happy to be there. This would be a sight I had not seen since I was a little kid.
The tractor started up. Without a muffler on the exhaust, there was an ear-deafening roar. It backed up ever so slightly to pull the belt tight. The brakes were set, pulleys started to whirl, speed increased and the thresher came to life.
Back in the 19th century, my great-grandfather owned and operated a threshing machine just like this one, but it was powered by a steam engine. I can remember seeing threshing on the farm when I was a child, as well as in home movies from the 1940s of my father and grandfather pitching bundles while wearing long-sleeve shirts and bib overalls.
As the first bundles were tossed into the hungry machine, I was not prepared for the impact on my emotions. With everything on the thresher running, rotating, oscillating, shaking and rumbling, with the straw blowing, dust rising, and golden grain flowing down the spout, powerful, long-forgotten memories resurfaced. I could barely choke back my tears.
The threshing bee reminded me of the values that run deep in this land.
Stay close to your family and neighbors and care about each other. Work as hard as you can in the job you have. And be a good steward of the land, life and gifts God has given you.