Old farm publications create trips back in time

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My column two weeks ago about Cyclone seeders brought a couple of interesting responses (I love email – it’s so fast and easy to sit down at the keyboard and dash off a quick note) which I’ll pass on to the readers.

Reader responses

Bill McChesney, who farms near New Galilee, Pa., wrote: “Concerning cyclone seeders: I still use one now and then. I do have a Herd seeder which I use if there’s a lot to do but in many cases it’s not worth the bother of mounting it and the cyclone actually saves time to do a small area.”

As most of you know, grass seeds are mighty tiny and it’s difficult to make sure all the ground is covered with seed. Rick Borland from Carrollton, Ohio, went to some detail in telling exactly how he once did it.

“I found your article on Cyclone seeders very interesting. My grandfather also rotated his crops which spelled out COW H (corn, oats, wheat, hay).

Hayseed

“However, sowing hayseed in the spring while the wheat was short and the frost was on the ground became my job when I was about 10. Early in the morning as my grandparents headed to the milking parlor, I hooked the trailer to the John Deere H, loaded the necessary tools for seeding into the trailer and headed out to the fields.

“I carried a hammer and stakes as well as the seed and seeder. After filling the seeder with the hayseed, I set a stake at one end of the field at 10 and a half paces from the edge of the field. Then I stepped back toward the edge seven paces. With my stakes, hammer and seeder, I turned on the Cyclone seeder and began cranking and walking while keeping my three and a half pace distance from the field’s edge.

“After going about a hundred yards, I stopped, stepped over seven paces, drove a stake in the ground, stepped back the seven paces and continued sowing. I repeated this operation until I reached the far end of the field.

“At the end, I stepped over 14 paces and drove in a stake. Now I stepped back seven paces, turned to see the stakes back across the field and began sowing. As I reached each stake, I would stop and move the stake over seven paces then step back and continue sowing. On the ends I stepped over 14 paces to drive my stake in and back seven to sow.

“The mornings were cold, but walking at a brisk pace soon warmed me up. Maybe I’m a little different, but somehow the work made me feel important and quite proud when the hay crop began showing signs of coming up in the fall.

“Call me old-fashioned but I still have that Cyclone seeder and have used it to put in a few lawns over the past few years.”

So, not everyone disliked using a Cyclone seeder, nor has everyone hung theirs on a nail and forgotten about it.

More looking back. On another note, 70 years ago, our country was in the fifth month of World War II (and your humble correspondent was 8 years old).

The April 1942 issue of Farm Journal reflected the new reality with these news blurbs:

* * *

Bombs or Frost?

California orchardists, ordered by defense authorities to extinguish smudge pots during blackouts, would rather risk the bombs.

One man with 6,000 oil burners figured it would take six men two hours to extinguish them all, by which time the blackout probably would be over.

Scared Half Crazy was Prince, when Sherman Williard of Roanoke, Texas, tried to hitch the horse to an old-fashioned buggy bought to rest the tires on the auto. It took four hours and a half, and a lot of coaxing with corn, to convince Prince that the buggy wouldn’t bite.

Old Dinner Bells will serve as sirens on farms during air raid tests in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Farm hands complained that they couldn’t hear the sirens, but did you ever know a farm hand that couldn’t hear the dinner bell?

Never again can Private Humphrey L. Jones at Sheppard Field, Texas, look a potato in the eye. He raised 150 acres of potatoes on his North Dakota farm last year, dug them, sorted them, and sacked them in his own bags. When he loaded them for shipment, he waved them a relieved farewell—he thought.

Early this year Jones joined the army, was sent to Sheppard Field, and placed on KP — peeling potatoes. There he found, in his own sacks, the very potatoes he’d raised.

Back in Harness is Jimmy, a black Percheron, who spent ten years pulling a milk wagon in Fort Worth, Texas. He retired six months ago when Boswell Dairies streamlined its service with trucks. But now, with gas and tires being rationed, he is back on the job.

In the same issue was the usual NOW IS THE TIME TO: feature.

Whitewash.

Make soap.

Save that bag.

Buy a haircut.

Wear rubber boots.

Get rid of hangnails.

Visit your new neighbor.

Build a plywood chick brooder.

Cut dead wood from rosebushes.

Rent a safe deposit box for war bonds.

Treat seed oats, barley, spring wheat.

See if you need a new binder canvas.

April-fool rats with traps, poison bait.

Pay your subscription to the local newspaper.

Plant onion sets, early potatoes, radishes, lettuce, peas.

Explain to Junior what determines the date of Easter each year.

Get a few cans of lye for scrubbing farrowing and brooder houses.

Drain and flush auto radiator with a good cleanser to get better cooling.

* * *

It’s fun reading the old farm publications—really takes me back!

About the Author

Sam Moore grew up on a family farm in Western Pennsylvania during the late 1930s and the 1940s. Although he left the farm in 1953, it never left him. He now lives near Salem, where he tinkers with a few old tractors, collects old farm literature, and writes about old machinery, farming practices and personal experiences for Farm and Dairy, as well as Farm Collector and Rural Heritage magazines. He has published one book about farm machinery, titled Implements for Farming with Horses and Mules. More Stories by Sam Moore

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