CUSTOM PLOWING AND THRESHING 1938-1951


| January/February 1984



McCormick-Deering

Drawing from McCormick-Deering: An Advertising History of the 1920-30 Period by alan C. King.

R. Rt. 1, Pierson, Iowa 51048

Having read articles about other people's experiences with custom farm work has encouraged me to put down on paper some of the times my father and I spent together working with threshing and plowing. My father was employed by the Bierman brothers Joe, George, Roy, Harry, and Frank to operate their 28' Red River thresher from 1938 through 1951 at Pierson, Iowa.

It was his job to ready the thresher in the summer for the fall threshing jobs and to run the machine during threshing season. Being employed by our small home town as marshal and general maintenance man, it was agreed that he could have time off to do the fall threshing. Of course, the city fathers deducted his days off, even though my mother kept the city water pumps running the necessary time needed to keep our town with water during his absence.

Dad would have to be town marshal nights after a twelve-to-fourteen-hour day of threshing. Those were the good old days when a job was a job and people were glad to have any work. My father had some experience with steam threshing in his early years on the farm. A neighbor, Clarence Blue, had a thresher and steam engine. My father helped him from 1918 through 1929 when my folks were forced to leave the farm due to the depression, and he found work with the town of Pierson.

The Bierman brothers who owned the thresher also hired their machine out to eight or ten other farmers to do their threshing and helped to make up the necessary labor it took to run the machine continuously all day with usually ten to twelve bundle racks. One of the brothers, Harry, was always in charge of the grain hauling, and it was his job to keep track of the bushels threshed in order to charge the right fee at each farm.

The five brothers employed another man by the name of Leo Woods to furnish the power to operate the thresher. He used a 22-36 McCormick Deering on steel and also had a 15-30 McCormick Deering. He also did some custom plowing with a 3-14 John Deere plow. He was paid one and a half to two cents per bushel for oats and had to furnish his own fuel. Flax threshing was around five to six cents per bushel charge for the tractor. Flax was not very popular being so hard to save, but it was a good cash crop. I can still remember all the bundle racks had tarps in the bottoms and up the sides to conserve the seed being hauled in from the fields.