Harvesting oats - yesteryear style
Special event brings out friends and neighbors
Tuesday, August 06, 2013 7:00 AM
An oats field, located next to the highway about a mile south of the Waterloo Ridge Lutheran Church near Dorchester, Iowa, was abuzz with activity last weekend as friends, neighbors, family, church members and others gathered to harvest grain as it was done in years gone by.
Teams of neighbors, friends and the curious came together to load grain shocks onto a wagon; afterwards a team of horses pulled the bundles to the belt-driven thresher. More volunteers loaded the oats and piled up the straw.
Threshing machines, binders, bundle racks, older model tractors and teams of horses were the equipment of the day.
This year, Ernest Gavle planted six acres of oats on his farm. For the second year in a row, he and Anthony Gulbranson decided to harvest the crop the old-fashioned way.
They hitched Gulbranson's team of Percherons to the John Deere grain binder to cut and bundle the oats with twine. For the bundles to dry, shocks are made either of six bundles stacked upright together or of seven, which added a bundle across the top to act as an umbrella to shed rainfall.
"This is the second time there has been shocks on this place since 1980," Gavle noted.
The Oliver Red River Special threshing machine was solely in operation last weekend. The machine was purchased in 1935 from the Oliver dealership in Spring Grove by William Kumpf, whose sons also ran the machine, Gavle reported.
Gavle's father, Edgar, bought it in 1952. "Last year was the first time it had been used since 1980."
Two teams of horses and some older model tractors hauled the bundles, which were loaded onto the wagons by workers of all ages.
The loads were brought to the belt-driven threshing machine powered by an Oliver 88 tractor, where workers forked the bundles into the machine, heads first. Sharp sickle knives/blades cut the twine.
As the bundle moves into the machine, it goes through concave cylinders that loosen the oats from the stem. Then it goes onto the shaker that walks the straw back to the blower and onto the straw pile.
Meanwhile, the oats and chaff fall to the bottom of the machine and onto an auger and to the side where an elevator brings the oats up to the hopper to be weighed. At each quarter bushel, the hopper dumps the oats into an auger that takes it to the wagon.
This year, the oats were collected into triple and double box wooden-wheel wagons. Gulbranson's team of horses hauled the wagonloads to Gavle's granary at the farm.
After all the bundles were threshed, they baled up the straw from the straw pile.
Three tents were set up on the side of the field, to provide shade and a place to serve meals and lunches to the workers. Also there was the opportunity for wagon rides. What a beautiful view from atop the hill!
On Sunday morning, the Waterloo Ridge Lutheran Church held a Harvest Sunday Festival worship service with 102 people attending. A potluck meal followed.
The public was invited to the weekend event, and many people driving on the highway took time from their travels to stop and view the harvesting activity in progress.
"Thank you to all who helped," Gulbranson stated in gratitude. His wife, Stephanie, added, "And, a huge thank you to the members of Waterloo Ridge Church and friends for making this possible."