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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Quimby oat harvest proves to be shocking

Monday, July 19, 2010

Feeling his oats - Shock trooper Tim Carlson of rural Kingsley demonstrated a flair at the fine art of shocking oats. It was all part of the fun at the recent Grand Meadow Heritage Center's old time oat harvest. Photo by Ron Flewelling
GRAND MEADOW - Back in the days when men were men and smelled like good honest sweat and horse doo-doo, bringing in the oat harvest was a labor intensive task down on the farm.

Before the advent of combines, the oats had to be cut with an oat binder, a machine that scythed the standing grain before bundling the oat sheaves and depositing them on the ground.

These bundles were immediately picked up by farm hands who stacked them in upright piles called "shocks."

As a rule, it took around five bundles to make a shock.

It was also important that a bundle was carefully placed on the top of the shock to serve as a cap to deflect rain.

In due time, these shocks were gathered in wagons and carted to a central point where the grain was separated from the straw by a threshing machine.

As you might imagine, the whole oat binding, shocking and threshing thing was a community affair with neighbors helping each other with their harvest.

Maybe that's why many older farmers remember those way back when oat and wheat harvest days with fond memories and sighs of nostalgia.

Those early days are revisited every early September when the folks from the Grand Meadow Heritage Center conduct a working threshing machine demonstration during their Annual Grand Meadow Heritage Festival.

As you might have guessed, a quantity of oat bundles are definitely a necessity for the demonstration.

About a week ago, a number of Heritage Center volunteers converged on an oat field near Quimby to bind and shock the oats needed for the exhibition.

The grain was cut and bundled by a vintage 1940 McCormick-Deering Oat Binder and shocked by the volunteers.

The oat shocks will soon be gathered, stored and trotted back out in September in time for the threshing machine to do its number.

Among those pitching in to help, observe or give advice were Gene and Margaret Ferris, Dale Harvey, Melvin Zollman, Gary and Nancy Crouch, Tim Carlson and Duane Rupp.

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