708 Lexington Avenue, Zanesville, Ohio 43701
The iron man looked up at me perched high atop a load of sheaves and forking the wheat onto the conveyor as fast as my 19 years of city life would allow.
'Where's the wheat?' he grinned up at me. 'You've been up there for ten minutes and I've only got two sacks full.'
I wiped off the sweat and started tossing even harder. Before that day I had thought I was a man, but now I was beginning to wonder. That 32-54 New Huber Separator just didn't want to quit. Its knives reached out hungrily for every sheaf I tossed at it. It seemed to be saying,
'You mean you started me up for this little bit of feed? Come on, throw me something to eat.'
After what seemed like three or four hours, I was standing on the bed of the wagon, weakly pitching the last dozen sheaves. Finally I heard the Model 40-62 Super Four cut out, and I headed around to the water jug with the wonderful thought in mind that I had emptied that wagon all by myself.
Meanwhile, Kenneth McDonald, the iron man who had invited me to his farm for the day, calmly removed the last sack from the weigher and headed for the crank on his model L.C. 1939 Huber, the same tractor he had been using every day for 25 years.
I thought I had done all the hard work there was to do, but now we hitched up the wagon and went out for more wheat. I had trouble at first, but before long I got the hang of it. Heads to the inside, build up the middle, then begin all over again until the wagon was piled high.
'Kenny,' I argued, 'we'll never get this load in. It's too high.'
His only response was a smile indicating he had once felt the same way. The tractor lurched forward, and I fell down on top of the load, tensed and ready to hit the ground on the uphill side if that ridiculous load toppled.
As usual, I was wrong again, and we were soon back into the threshing lot. Kenny busied himself with the oil can and grease gun, a veritable one-man engineering crew.
The rest of the day was much the same, though by the last load I was a bit wiser. I had learned the right way to pick up the sheaves with the fork. At first I had been trying to turn each sheaf around as I tossed it, which was what was making me so tired earlier. By the last load I learned to pitch myself a hole to stand in on the wagon rather than to try to keep the load level all the time.
It certainly was a learning experience for me, though my original intention had been just to help a friend who needed a hand for a day.
McDonald is the labor foreman at the Ohio state park where I am employed during the summer. I knew he worked his farm, but I was really surprised to find someone still using this old machinery.
As I talked with Kenny about farming, he told me he had always been interested in old equipment. He has been working the 200-acre farm where he was born since he was only seventeen. At that time his father unfortunately passed away, and Kenny was left to make a living for his mother and himself.
A picture of Erdle Bros. 6 H.P. 'Angola'. Piston is 10?' long, 6 inches in diameter and weighs 34 pounds. Connecting rod and bearings 23 pounds. This is one of those engines that took several hundred hours to restore. A very easy Engine to start.
He is an expert with all types of machinery, driving trucks and hydraulic loaders for the local cooperative. At the park where he is foremen, Kenny is the man everyone looks to whenever a loading or bulldozing job is needed.
He explained the way he feels about old equipment.
'The old tractors require less maintenance and are more economical and simpler to work on. They get the work done, and that's all any of them will do.
'I don't like the combine on hilly ground. My thresher gives me better quality grain with less waste, and I like the straw pile to spread around for my beef cows. With a thresher, when I finish the harvest, I don't have to go back out to the Held and pick up my straw.'
As long as there are men like Ken McDonald, the iron man tradition will continue much as it has in the past.