Shelling seed corn

Shelling seed corn. Historical photo courtesy of J. C. Allen and Son, Inc., West Lafayette, IN.

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Route 1, Box 21 Winnetoon, Nebraska 68789

In the 1930s my father bought a Titan tractor and a Letz burr mill from a neighbor. My father gave his neighbor about $60 for both machines.

We were running a bunch of cattle several miles west of where we live. This was in the Verdigre Creek area where several years ago Ashfall Park was started. Centuries ago a volcanic explosion in the western United States sent a cloud of ash into this area, killing a bunch of animals. It was very dry in the area in the 1930s so we ground oats to feed the cattle.

Now, about the Titan tractor. Starting it was an occasion. It took a lot of time, and sometimes my dad and older brother just gave up! But the real fun was starting it with a horse! We used a long hayfork rope, wrapping it around the pulley as many times as the wheel was wide. Then, using one horse and a single tree, the horse was hitched to the rope. Then it was 'Giddap', pop the horse on the rump and get up some speed because the rope had to clear the wheel before the tractor started.

It might have been dangerous if it had fired with the rope still wrapped around the pulley. If and when it started, we ground three wagon-loads of feed, later hauling it to pasture with horses. I have heard weird stories about starting these old engines and I imagine somebody can tell an even better story.

This Titan never moved, it stayed right by the grain bin and eventually it sank into the ground somewhat from vibrating. War came along and the tractor went into the scrap pile like of lot of those old engines. I still have a few bearings and bolts from the tractor which bring back memories.

The next tractor was a 10-20 IHC that wasn't exactly a cream puff. One day my dad was driving the tractor out to the field and there was a small plank bridge to cross. The planks were old and one of the front wheels caved a plank in, and in trying to get the tractor off the bridge, he threw a rod or something like that. He called a mechanic from town who came out, fixed it right on top of the bridge. How they got it off the bridge I don't know. They probably used a team of horses because when anything went wrong with tractors, like getting stuck, out came the horses.

Those were the Good Old Days!