Old-fashioned wheat harvest

Published: Jul. 17, 2019 at 11:36 AM CDT
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It takes quite a bit of work to get ready for the annual Camp Creek Threshers show outside of Waverly. One process involves harvesting wheat for the threshing machines.

We visited with Fred Fleming with the Camp Creek Threshers. We learned the old-time way that show organizers use to get the wheat crop out of the field and to the demonstration area. "What we did was we planted the wheat last fall, it grew and matured," Fleming said. "We have two binders that cut the wheat, lay it down, and then ties it into bundles. We will come along later and shock those bundles, otherwise known as standing the bundles on their ends, so that wind can blow through and finishing them drying." Workers then come by and load the bundles onto racks, and put the bundles out of the rain. "Come show time, the bundles go into the threshing machine," Fleming said. "A couple of people throw the bundles into the thresher. The bundles go through a cylinder that breaks the grain out of the hulls. The grain goes one way, and the straw and hulls go out the back through a blower. Later on, someone comes and bales the straw, because they have a use for it." The threshing machine was predecessor to the combine.

The binders that are used to harvest the wheat at one time didn't have tractors to operate them. Further back in time, farmers used horses to operate the binders. "These machines run off of a power take-off. Earlier machines had a big wheel that actually made everything move when it moved. So it relied on a good team of horses to keep everything going," Fleming said.

For organizers of the Camp Creek Threshers show, harvesting wheat the old-fashioned way is nostalgic. "I spent a lot of time in my youth on farms," Fleming said. "It's just something that gets into your system, and you can't get rid of it." Fleming says it's important to keep these old-fashioned farming practices alive for people to see. "The way technology is now-a-days, we could forget how our forefathers really had to struggle to make things work. I think we have to keep history alive."

If you would like to go see the threshers, and many other great examples of old-time farm equipment in action, check out the Camp Creek Threshers show on Saturday, July 20, from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, July 21 from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Friday, July 19, there will be an antique tractor ride. It leaves the Camp Creek thresher area at 5 p.m. on that day. For all the details, go to for complete information.

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