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Farming in the old days October 8, 2015

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, family, farm, fun, history, non squitur, silliness, technology.

My dad sent this photo and recollection to me.  I’ve seen the pic before but hope you don’t mind if I share it, and the story, with you.  This picture was taken on June 30, 1954:


The acorn don’t fall very far from the tree

This picture was taken about 10:00 AM just after we had finished harvesting the wheat in the our field across the road west of the house, [I sure wish we still owned that field!] and were preparing to pull out of the field to commence cutting some wheat for a neighbor a mile north.  These two self-propelled combines are 1953 Massey-Harris Model 80 machines with 14’ headers. 

(At that time Massey-Harris, a Canadian company, dominated the market in the states for self-propelled combines.  Massey-Harris survives today as Massey-Ferguson, an AGCO Company that has small market share in this country but has a sizeable market share in the rest of the world.)

The combines and the Dodge truck were owned by Clarence Dunlap who operated out of Pine Bluffs, Wyoming.  I am the skinny kid on the left at age 17; Clarence is standing next to me.  The truck I drove was owned by Jake Rein (standing on the right in the picture) from North Platt, Nebraska.  It was a blue 1950 Chevrolet 2 ½ ton truck (parked just out of the picture on the left) that had previously been owned by Ceco Steel Company in Grand Island, Nebraska.  Because it hauled heavy loads of steel, Ceco had reinforced the frame and made it extra stiff. 

It had a 102 HP inline six-cylinder engine, mated to a four speed transmission, a two speed axle, and a three way “Brownie” auxiliary transmission, giving it 24 speeds forward and six in reverse.  In low/low/low, you could redline the engine at 4 mph. [Well, this will certainly be familiar to Powerstroke owners……….heh]

The Chevy had a sixteen-foot box, and could haul 350 – 375 bushels (11 tons).  It had a 20-gallon seat tank and two 50-gallon saddle tanks. 

Only the seat tank had a gauge – the only way you could tell when one of the saddle tanks was going dry was when the engine began to stumble.

  And it was a bitch to switch from one saddle tank to the other – – I found that out the hard way one night about 10:00 PM on the way home  from taking a load of wheat to the grain elevator in Phillipsburg.  I ran out of gas in one saddle tank; could not get it to switch to the other; and had to walk two miles home.  I got a five gallon can of gas, drove back to the truck, put it in the seat tank, and then had a terrible time getting it started because all of the gas had been sucked out of the gas lines.

You will notice that in those days there were no nice clean air-conditioned cabs on the combines – – the operator sat out in the heat and the dust and the chaff. [Let me tell you……..that would have sucked.  Unbelievably.] Clarence had an umbrella on his combine – – it kept the sun off but it also trapped the dust and chaff.

Most combines today have 30’ – 40’ headers while at that time these had 14’ headers.

And they were dang high-tech for their day!  Also, the paddles on the header were wood, not steel.

Now for the modern day, one of the slickest harvest videos I’ve ever seen (someone got a bit crazy with the drone), from LaRosh Farms, Osborne County, Kansas. The film-maker is from Smith Center.  This is just east of where our farm is at.  They even give you a bit of old school with what looks like a late 40s or early 50s John Deere combine around ~7:00:

NO it is almost never that green.  We remarked when we were up there this year we’d never seen it so green.  They got a lot of rain in July, too, but now all I hear is about how dry it is.  Waaaah.



1. Baseballmom - October 8, 2015

Nice trip down memory lane…. And a WONDERFUL diversion…. Looking forward to the post-season, another diversion…. Although those $&@% Viagra and Cialis ads keep me busy with the remote!

2. Kent Buehler - October 8, 2015

Interesting. I type (or swipe) this on my phone as I sit in the tractor waiting for a truck to return to the field. Harvesting sugar beets right now in western Nebraska. Dad used to harvest beets with the neighbor years ago. Coincidence I suppose but the neighbor’s name was Jake Rein. His son still farms in the area. Small world. Keep up the good work. Read your blog every day.

3. Sobieski - October 9, 2015

Awesome picture.

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