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.

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