By Herb Wessel 2200 Fairmount Road Hampstead, Maryland 21074
Most shows feature a brand of tractor and equipment. Maryland Steam decided to try something different: feature the equipment necessary to raise and harvest a certain crop.
Two years ago the feature was grain equipment. The feature was set up on a special section of the Arcadia, Maryland grounds where we hold the show the second week in September each year. The grain exhibit that year included the earliest known method of cutting grain, the scythe and the cradle. A reaper was displayed that was a big improvement over the cradle, but you still had to tie the grain by hand. And of course, a binder that would not only cut the grain, but tie it as well and deposit the bundles in neat piles ready to be shocked by hand.
For threshing the grain, Lawrence Brubaker of Reisterstown, Maryland, demonstrated the flail, a tool used from Biblical times until just about a century ago to remove the grain from the straw.
There was a 'ground hog thresher,' a very early mechanical thresher that could be powered by hand, by a horse treadmill, or a small gas or steam engine.
There was a fanning mill that was used to further clean the grain. Next there was a barn floor hand feed thresher with its own built-in cleaner. From there to several larger threshers, one of wood construction and one all-steel machine.
Then came the combines. First an early pull type, then one of the first self-propelled machines with the operator sitting right on top in all the heat and dust. To finish off the exhibit Carroll Price, a large grain farmer of Up-perco, Maryland, brought in a new, modern, mammoth John Deere combine to show the complete evolution of grain harvesting equipment that took place in about a hundred years.
In 1994 the feature was corn equipment, with the same type of exhibit as the grain exhibit. There were all kinds of hand corn cutters, husking pegs, hand held and hand operated corn shellers. Lloyd Mitchell, president of the Corn Items Collectors, brought a nice exhibit of all kinds of corn items all the way from Peru, Illinois. The display contained many kinds of planters and cultivators. There were various kinds of corn cutters, a sled type cutter, a Bennett two row one horse corn harvester, corn binders, pull type and mounted corn pickers, husker-shredders, and again Carroll Price's big John Deere combine with a six-row head.
One of the husker-shredders was an all wooden machine exhibited by Oscar Streaker, of Sykesille, Maryland, that had been in his family since it was new. On display also were all kinds of corn grinders, mills, and power shelters. There was even a real still that had been used to process corn into a marketable commodity at one time.
Plans are being made now for the 1995 exhibit, which will feature hay equipment and promises to be the biggest and best yet. The purpose will be to show how hay making has evolved from a labor intensive job to the modern ways with the big round and giant square bales. Robert Rauhauser, from Thomas-ville, Pennsylvania, has a large collection of hay tools and will be setting up a display of hay forks, tracks, carriers, and other hay items. A one horse powered hay press from Olin Pryor, of Martinsburg, West Virginia, is expected to be at this year's show, along with other hand and automatic tie balers. Anyone interested in exhibiting at this year's show is encouraged to contact Herb Wessel at 410-374-2273.
These exhibits have created a lot of interest the past two years from the non-farm public who attend the show, from machinery collectors, and from farmers who remember using some of the items. The real important benefit is the educational aspect. The progression of farming methods during the past century is something few people know anything ' about, and even fewer have had a hand in doing. Interesting things happen when some older farmer is looking over an exhibit when someone starts asking questions about how the things worked. The farmer so enjoys telling all about the tools and shares some of his experiences of farming the way it used to be.
The purposes of our club and shows are to preserve the equipment, preserve the knowledge of its operation, to train others to operate it, and to educate the public on the whole process.