Yesterday’s Farmers celebrated a bit of a milestone this weekend when they hosted their 35th annual threshing bee.
By COLE BENZ
The organization, however, dates back farther than 35 years, when a group of farmers wanted to preserve the history of the industry.
Ken Woodley, current secretary and founding member of the group, said that the group was in between farming before and after the integration of combine machinery.
Some of us were old enough to have kind of grown up watching the neighbors get together and do their harvesting with a threshing machine, before the days of combines,” Woodley said. “It was a way of life.”
He commented that some of the history still sits out in the open range, where you can see an old thresher sitting atop many hills in the country side.
The threshing bee gives the younger generation and new farmers what life was like back in the olden days.
“We just thought it was worth doing, and showing people what [farming] was like,” he said. “Preserving the methods.”
When asked if they were trying to keep the history alive, he said “definitely.”
The tradition of threshing is similar to that of raising a barn. It would be a group effort. And Woodley said he remembers when the neighbors would get together for harvest. They would do one farmers crop, and then move on to the next.
Yesterday’s Farmers also gives people the opportunity to pick the brains of other field mechanics, and fix old equipment when it breaks down.
“Oh yeah,” he said. “We have some very good, very young members that are mechanics at the local implements and do their own mechanic work.”
The last few threshing bees have also included hobby blacksmith workers, another antiquated, yet memorable industry of history.
“Which is another whole trade that was a necessity in the old days,” he said. “We have a couple of young [guys] that have taken an interest in it.”
The threshing bees also include another part of the whole old-time harvest, eating pies.
When farmers would harvest together, the rest of the family would make pies, that tradition continues as attendees can enjoy a slice of a pastry treat after walking through the grounds of the threshing bee.
“[It] was a staple in the old days,” Woodley said.
He joked that even though it wasn’t labeled a contest for best pie or best meal, that amongst the wives, an ‘under-the-table’ taste test was being done.
At the threshing bees, the farmers don’t just allow attendees to touch the machinery, they actually encourage it.
“We insist they get in [the machine] and participate, [and] do it,” he said. “And see what great, great, great grandfather had to put up with when he was farming.”
Looking back Woodley said that when they created the group they didn’t know how long it would last, just that they didn’t want to forget how things used to be.
“We didn’t have any idea [how long],” he said. “[We] did it because we thought it was worth preserving.”
Woodley wanted to thank everyone who participated in the threshing bee and for the work that went into the event.