Harvesting Wheat

| November/December 1992

  • Large barns hauled their wheat

  • Large barns hauled their wheat

12195 Rt. 99 Marriotsville, Maryland 21104

My first recollection of a wheat harvest was around 1920, when I remembered my father cutting wheat with a three horse team hitched to a six foot Piano binder. The horses labored in the hot summer sun and had to be rested often. My job that year was to keep the men who were shocking the wheat supplied with cool water, and to help collect the sheaves of wheat so that they could be shocked and capped. It was here that I learned how to shock wheat, and also to make a cap to cover the shock so it would shed the rain.

Our neighbor had a steam engine and an old wooden thresher and wanted to thresh our wheat. The wheat had been hauled in from the shocks and ricked, since we did not have a barn big enough to store the hay needed for the cattle and the wheat.

The day before the threshing was to be done, the rig was brought in and it took many hours to get it set up to do the job. Much preparation had to be done; coal, wood and water were needed. Burlap bags, to hold the grain, had to be collected.

And above all, the garden vegetables had to be gathered, the home cured ham brought in from the meat house, extra milk put in the icebox, and store supplies brought in, for Mother to prepare the meals for the threshing crew. All the cooking had to be done on a wood cook stove, as there was no electricity or gas.

The next day I hauled water to the engine with our driving horse hitched to a two-wheel barrel cart. The horse became frightened around the engine, so I was then put to the task of holding open the burlap bags as the half bushel measures were dumped by a handicapped black man, who had had the misfortune to have lost both of his legs just below his hips. This had happened in his early life and he had adjusted to it. Another job he could do was to operate the straw blower. Fellow workers lifted him to the platform.


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