Thrashing Wheat
Cranfills Gap

Bosque Co., Texas

Thrashing wheat near  Cranfills Gap, Texas about 1949
photo Violet Christenson  c1949

At one time thrashing wheat or sorgum was done like a "thrashing bee".  Groups of farmers would come together to bring in the grain after it had been cut and bundled into shocks.   The shocks would be picked up by wagons, in earlier years drawn by horses, but by the 1940's by gasoline powered tractors.   These tractors also took the place of the steam engines that ran the thrashing machines by a 20 foot in diameter belt.   The grain shocks would be off-loaded into the thrashing machines.   The grain would be separated from the chaf by vibration and settle into a conveying system that could be caught in gunny sacks for later transportation to the barn and later sale for grinding into wheat flour.


My Dad on wagon tossing shocks of wheat into the thrasher.
photo Violet Christenson  c1949
 

 


 

The chaf would be blown out a large tube at the other end of the machine into a huge hay stack for cattle feed.  The cows would eventually make tunnels into the stack where they could keep cool and eat to their hearts content.   As kids we would play in these tunnels.  They would eventually collapse as they ate away more and more material.

Even though my grandfather, Pete Christenson, had owned a couple of thrashing machines during the 1920s they eventually became used up and he also joined the cooperative spirit of the times.  The farmer typically would rent the machine and a few hands but most of the help was provided by friends, neighbors and relatives. Frequently there would be 20 to 30 men and about 5 to 7 women at these "thrashing bees".   They would range in age from 12 to 70 years of age.   It mostly depended on the person's own health  and physical strength but the young were urged to join in and do what they could.  They knew that next year the young men would be stronger.  The men would work the fields and the women would cook the food.  The day would start before sun up and a break would be taken during the heat of the day about 2 to 3 o'clock. Work would stop at dusk or when dampness made the grain too tough to thrash.
 

 
Late afternoon snack under a cedar tree.  photo Violet Christenson  c1949


Meals were served five times a day during the thrashing season so the women were kept very busy providing food for the hungry workers.   Some of the women would be hired to follow the crews from one farm to another.   My aunts Cora  and Edith Johnson did this when they were younger but  later only got involved when the thrasher went to one of the family members farms.  All the associated kin would pitch in and help to get the crops in before the rains fell.   One other thing they had to watch for was sleeping rattlesnakes in the shocks of wheat.  If they weren't careful one could be picked up  and thrown onto the wagon with a unsuspecting stacker.   This could spell disaster.


      Grandpa Christenson and my cousin, Darrel Reesing, sacking.

 


sources:

Rock Church || Cranfills Gap, Texas || Cranfills Gap Slide Show (allow time to load)

Pete Christenson || Johnson/Rohne/Christenson photo map
Egeberg/Johnson lineage map || Johnson Family Index

Elroy's Family Index || Ancestor Chart #1


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All information and photos included within these pages was developed by the help of hundreds of researchers. The information here is for the express purpose of personal genealogical research and is freely offered as long as this site is listed as a source. It may not be included or used for any commercial purpose or included in any commercial site without the express permission of Elroy Christenson. Copyright Elroy Christenson 1998-2010.

web pages created by Elroy Christenson- elroy@next1000.com - last updated 8/10/10