Hay, Feed and Grain

My first haying job, when I was 7 or 8 years old, was driving the horses on the "dump rake" down by the cemetery, pulling hay up to the haystack with it. The hay was red clover and timothy, mixed, and slough grass. Pa pitched it onto the stack and Sivert Peterson stacked. The hay that was farther from the stack they loaded by hand onto the hayrack and pitched it off onto the stack. [25.165-3]

When we moved to the farm we hauled all the hay that was out there into the barn. We drove right in with the load and a team on a long rope pulled it off the wagon in slings, three slings to the load, and up to the peak where it connected to the carrier on a track and over into the haymow. We could turn that carrier and unload either way from the load in the middle of the barn. When we had it where we wanted it, the person in the barn pulled a trip rope and one end of the sling let go, dumping the day. When it got piled up, it had to be spread out to the walls by hand. [25.165-4]

Teisbergs had more hay than their Jersey cows could use, so we helped hay over there for several years for a percentage of the hay. [25.166-1]

The first year, Pa bought a new "sweep-rake" or "bucker;" it was about 12 feet wide. It was a real late model and had three wheels and a seat to ride on over the back caster wheel. The older ones only had two wheels and the driver walked. [25.166-2]

Pa had a four-tine fork with an extra-long handle for pitching hay onto the stacks. It always bothered me when he caught up and had to wait for me to bring in another buckerful, so I pushed the horses as fast as I could. It never dawned on me that he ever got tired and enjoyed a rest between loads, though he did lament some that with all the new machinery invented, he still had to pitch. [25.166-3]

Then Leonard and Sidney Ellingson got a new overshot hay stacker and that was the latest invention. The next spring Pa and Sam Schram built one, using theirs for a pattern, and that took care of the hardest job: pitching. [25.166- 4]

I would buck the hay onto the stacker teeth and a team hooked to a long rope would pull it up in the air and flip it over backwards onto the haystack. After that the hard job was in the stack, tearing those big dumps apart and spreading them. That was Pa's job then. [25.166-5]

Marj drove the team on the stacker a lot before she started working in the Equity. Later we got another bucker and pushed in hay with two teams. Marj drove the other bucker and ran the load up or had another girl drive the stacker team. [25.166-6]

One day a salesman came along selling a really modern invention called a Jayhawk. It was a combination bucker and stacker. That had two horses to propel it and when you came near the stack with a load on it and put it in gear, a wheel-driven drum wound up a cable and elevated it, up to 22 feet, or more. You could dump it right on the stack from any side. [25.166-7]

Mort Teisberg bought one right away and after that he and a hired man put up their own hay. We bought one the next year and mounted the back end of it on the front bumper of a tractor made with a steel wheel conversion kit and a Model T car. I was the sole engineer of that modern contraption and the common labor drove the horse buckers! [25.166-8]

The Jayhawk stacker and two buckers was the haying method we used until 1946 when we bought the Superior Farmhand stacker for the Farmall H. We did change from the Model T tractor to another Ford tractor made from a Model A car and a Model T Ford truck rear end. That backed up faster and I didn't have to crank it. After 1941 we did all the hay bucking with a bucker pushed by the Farmall H. [25.167-5]

At one time the whole 40 acres where the baseball diamond is was in alfalfa and we rented it. One hot day Marj and Phyllis Julson were driving the horse buckers and Severin Johnson was helping in the stack. We had a crockery jug of drinking water along and the girls had a private jug hidden under some hay. Severin chewed tobacco and he found their jug and took a drink out of it. They saw him and went without water all day. They almost died of thirst. [25.167-1]

Severin Johnson's wife died and he quit farming and moved to town with three kids: Harry, 4; Jessie, 8; and Sadie, 6. They lived in the last house south of the schoolhouse and he raised the kids by doing day labor, for probably one or two dollars a day. He wore a necktie every day and got all the dirty jobs nobody else would do, like standing in the straw pile in front of the thresher blower and stacking the straw, etc. [25.167-2]

There was no welfare then and they were really poor, but none of them ever complained. [25.167-3]

When Harry Johnson started school he would come on cold mornings, blue and cold and chapped, wearing an old suit coat with the lapels overlapped with a big safety pin. One day he told the teacher his dad had worked out on someone's farm and they had given him a quart of cream. Jessie had learned to bake bread at age 8 and Harry had eaten eight slices of bread and cream.

Harry worked and put himself through the university the hard way. He got a job with Ottertail Power and worked himself up to almost the top office there. He is probably the most successful self-made man Ashby ever turned out. [25.167-4]

When Ma and Uncle Robert inherited the land north of the ski slide between Mill Lake and Torgerson Lake, the line fences were all down. Some of the neighbors rented the better part for field and cut the June grass on the north part for hay. [28.171-4]

When I was about 18, Pa got Bert Lee to go along up there with me in the fall and cut enough oak posts to fence our half of the line fences.

That year the one who cut the hay hauled his half home and left the other half in small stacks. After the posts were cut I took dinner along and drove up there with a team and hayrack. The wagon had wooden wheels and steel tires, but there wasn't any snow yet. I tipped the rack off and loaded the posts on the flat bed and strung them along the fence line. Then I ate dinner, put the rack back on, loaded a big load of hay, and drove home.

Pa and I went up and dug holes by hand and set the posts before the ground froze. Then, in the spring, as soon as the snow melted enough to drive in there with the 1927 Chevrolet coupe, we went up and stretched on the woven wire and barb wire. That was ideal, because the posts were frozen in solid and we could hook the stretchers on any of them. After that we pastured either sheep or cattle there every summer. [28.171-5]

Taking the sheep up to Mill Lake was quite a slow operation in the spring. They had lambs then and were hard to chase and keep together. We walked when we herded them up there and someone would follow in the car. This worked okay until dogs got in one year and ripped up a bunch of them.

They went home much faster in the fall. The old ewes knew the way and were anxious to get home.

When we took cattle up there I always rode a horse and a couple of people followed in the car. [28.172-1]

One spring it was hot and dry and I got so thirsty I stopped in at Charley Bowman's for a drink of water. Mrs. Bowman dipped the water into a cup for me and when I had finished 12 cupfuls she looked kind of scared and said, "You'd better quit now." I drank a couple more cupfuls anyway. [28.172-2]

Bowmans had lived next door to us in town for several years and had moved back out to the farm again. They were quite superstitious and put all their old shoes in the cucumber patch every year to make the cucumbers set on better. They must have had a barrelful of old shoes. I saw them in the cucumbers over a period of many years. [28.172-3]

I finally got to be a country kid and was growing up unschooled, while the town kids were getting an education in high school. I was breaking horses and they were chasing girls. Those who were a little older were going to the University (of Minnesota). (Someone asked Doc Randall what Carter was taking up at the University and he said, "Just space.") [28.174-5]

After I was 14 and out of school, I got in on some jobs I really dreaded, just that almost made me wish I were back in school so I could look forward to a life of ease, like the educated ones were supposed to have. [28.174-6]

Pa built the silo during the Depression, 20 feet high the first year and 20 feet more the next year. Lester Johnson laid the tile (blocks) for 35 cents an hour. He was living in the house Ma inherited and was working out back rent. Stub Eian mixed the mortar and hoisted the blocks and mortar up with a rope. I helped up on top with Lester. I had always been a scared climber, but after working up gradually like that I got better and could even climb the silo on the outside, a few times after that. [28.175-1]

I guess the three jobs I hated the most were cleaning out the ice house, shocking grain and corn, and cutting thistles with a scythe. [28.175-2]

We had some really solid Canadian and sow thistle patches in the grain fields, especially around town. Pa bought me a new scythe so I could go with him and mow them by hand before harvest and before they went to seed. He always picked wet forenoons for that, when there was too much dew or rain for haying. We would walk through the wet grain fields from one patch to another and cut the thistles, not only to keep them from seeding, but because they were so green and heavy they would plug the binder so it was almost impossible to unplug, even with leather gloves. [28.175-3]

Shocking grain after the binder was even worse. I always got dizzy and nauseated from the bending over and turning motion; the ailment was real, but everyone thought I was putting on to get out of it. Luckily we weren't big grain farmers and Pa did some of the shocking. It didn't bother him at all, except that he got tired. He let me drive the binder quite a bit. [28.175-4]

I guess I wasn't the only one who was "allergic" to shocking grain. Old George Hotchkiss used to do some of their shocking, too. We could watch him from where were were working behind the schoolhouse. He was heavy and it was hard for him to walk, so he would drive his car between the windrows of bundles. His son Donald (three years older than me) would probably take time out to go swimming in the middle of the afternoon in the busy harvest season. Raymond Skaar always joked about Donald Hotchkiss being the only one he ever heard of who could cultivate corn with horses and read a magazine at the same time, but he went on to school and became a top notch county agent at Minot, North Dakota, teaching farmers how to farm. [28.175-5]

We stacked the grain bundles in the yard on the farm and, to start with, both Ma and I pitched bundles onto the stacks and Pa stacked them. That lasted until I got a little older and could pitch all of them. When I first pitched on the stack, I was probably 10 to 13 years old, and the muscles across my chest hurt so much when we started in the mornings I almost cried. [28.176-1]

Building the stacks was quite an art. They had to be kept high in the center so all the bundles slanted down to shed the rain. The head ends all faced in and the top would have a pole or stick about eight feet long pushed down into it, with the last bundle impaled on the stick.

Some stackers specialized in real pretty, perfect-looking stacks, but they weren't always the most waterproof. Pa was good at making the stacks shed water, but not with as pretty and uniform stacks as some made. [28.176-2]

Sometimes if we had grain around town Pa would get Sivert Peterson or someone to help with it there. [28.176-5]

A "setting" was from two to six stacks. Four stacks could be threshed from one spot, but the machine had to be pulled ahead for the last two if there were six. The field and stacks didn't always come out even, so a left-over load or two would be stacked in a mini-stack. Most everybody had a setting in the barnyard to get the straw pile there or over a straw shed. The rest of the settings would be out in the fields. [28.176-3]

We had some stacks up near the dump ground one year. One Sunday we were going for a ride in the Model T when we saw three or four boys a little older than I was starting to throw the bundles in every direction from up on the stacks. Luckily they had just started, and needless to say, Pa gave them a fast chase back into town. [28.176-4]

The dry Depression years were preceded by extra-wet ones. In 1928 or 1929 we had 10 acres of "fodder" corn behind the schoolhouse. We had the white Molly then, and I would go to town with the "Bird horses," as we called them, hitched to the one-row riding cultivator to cultivate that corn. I would drive in right after dinner and every day about 3 or 4 o'clock a black cloud would come up in the west. I think it rained every day in June that year. I would stick with it until it looked like the lightning was striking only a couple of miles west of there and then I would take off down the street and over the bridge for home, riding the steel-wheeled cultivator and driving the horses on the dead run. I always made it home just before the lightning and shower got there, but just barely. [28.180-4]