Cutting Wheat

(Behind the Scenes)

Herb's Case binder and 1943 model S Case tractor

Herb Wessel and Frank Davis cutting with Herb's Case binder and 1943 model S Case tractor. Herb on the binder and Frank operating the tractor.

Content Tools

P.O. Box 1313 Hanover, Pennsylvania 17331

Preparation for the annual threshing demonstrations held by the Mason-Dixon Steam Historical Society and the Maryland Steam Historical Society begins several months in advance of the show dates. One of the most labor intensive jobs performed behind the scenes is the harvesting of the wheat crop. These two clubs joined forces to cut and harvest wheat the old fashioned way on July 9, 1994. About eleven in the morning folks met at Herb Wessel's farm located in the rolling hills of Carroll County, Maryland. The golden wheat field was a picturesque sight with an old country church in the background and a brilliant blue sky and not a thistle in sight! In preparation for the day's work, Herb and Frank Davis had already cut several rounds to open the field. The equipment used for cutting was Herb's 1943 model S Case tractor and Case binder. The plan was to wait for enough people to get several wagons and tractors going to bring in the wheat. We had thirty-two people show up to help load the five wagon loads needed for the two shows plus one wagon load for the Carroll County Farm Museum's Fall Festival. We had varying degrees of experience. For each wagon, the ideal situation is two throwers (people on the ground) person stacker (per on the wagon). The stacker has to be careful in his work so the sheaves will stay on the wagon during transport but will come off easily during threshing. An experienced thrower knows where to place each sheaf for the stacker. For a number of people these jobs were brand new and quite a learning experience! We had enough people so that the jobs could be rotated a particularly good idea in the July heat. Stackers included Fred Miller, Frank Davis, Ray Cook, Chuck Knight, Henry Thomas, and LeRoy, Gail and Levi Baumgardner. The throwers were an energetic crew that included Linda and Henry Clark, Greg Jones, Mike Insley, Annie Knight, Reuben Oliphant, Donald and Shirley Fleming, Mike Grossnickle, John Ferguson, Ed Crooks, Harold Shaeffer, and Fred Plunkert. Drivers of the tractors were Herb Wessel, Jim Gem mill and Clarence Cook. Extra hands included Donald and Denise Warehime, Dwight Smith, Doug Sullivan, Bob Troyer, and Kevin Gist.

All of the equipment used came from Herb's collection and included the following Case tractors: 1936 CC, 1939 RC, 1938 R, 1952 SC, 1955 400.

A most important and refreshing part of the day was the FOOD! People not mentioned before and most important in orchestrating the food were Mary Wessel and Nancy Marken. Food included sandwiches, barbecue, chips, drinks, cakes, cookies and ice cream. Food was served in Herb's museum building amongst many artifacts of early country life, including Herb's 1925 Case Model X Suburban Coupe car.

The wheat was then stored until the shows in September. The Mason-Dixon Historical Society Show was held on September 10-12, 1994. The wheat wagons were brought to the show grounds and then the wheat was threshed by using a Frick thresher owned by Brian Bittle. The thresher was run by different pieces of equipment among which were Minneapolis Moline (featured tractor of the show), several John Deeres and other pieces owned by whoever wanted to give their tractor a little workout. The straw was baled using Mason-Dixon's Ohio stationary baler powered by Dan Spampinato's 12-20 HP cross motor Case and LeRoy Baumgardner's 1911 single cylinder 25 HP Titan tractor. The people who helped with this operation were Brian and George Bittle, LeRoy, Gail and Levi Baumgardner. Harry and Harold Stahl, Leonard Kemper, Jim Frampton, Otis Astle, William Sutton, Mark Hilker, Josh and Ira Barnes, Cory Dillon, Dan Spampinato, Fred and Bob Plunkert, Dean Myers, Clifford Holloway, Jr., and Larry Jones. Even though it was a lot of hard work, friendships were renewed and an enjoyable time was had by all.