Threshing Day

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    Threshing day was the busiest day of the year on the farm, and we loved the excitement and all the people who came.  Papa belonged to a group of farmers, called a threshing ring, who took turns helping each other harvest grain.

    Before the men arrived at our farm, Papa had cut the oats in the field, binding them into shocks for the threshermen to bring up to the farmyard.  Sometimes Mama and we girls helped him.

    On threshing day, a heavy steam engine pulling the grain separator drove slowly into our farmyard.  It ran for the entire day, separating the oats from the straw.  Oats were important to the farm because we fed them to the horses, and the farm could not run without horses.  The straw was stacked in the hayloft so that it could be used as bedding for both horses and cows.

    Papa always had a pile of coal ready to fuel the engine.  We loved the smell of burning coal and the feel of the droplets of steam in the air.  The steam engine was so loud that when it came near us, we couldn’t hear anything else.

    At noon, everyone stopped work to eat.  We’d been cooking for two days to feed the hungry crew, and there were huge platters of chicken, beef and gravy, potatoes and other vegetables, dishes of homemade pickles and relishes, as well as pitchers of water and lemonade and pots of coffee.  For desert there were apple pies, chocolate cakes, and large dish of Mama’s special rice pudding.  Mama made sure my sisters and I kept the plates, cups, and glasses filled.  No one ever went away hungry from Mama’s threshing day dinner.

    When the work was finished and the men had left, we all sat, exhausted, on the back porch steps.  The next day Papa would go to help out a another farm, but for that evening we were grateful for a good harvest and for the help and friendship of our neighbors.

Read by Carolyn Splear Pratt

Go to the Notebook for Threshing Day to pull the steam engine whistle for dinner. Threshing_Day.html