We finally had a day and the right weather to bind wheat. We do this every year to preserve the traditions of old and to provide wheat bundles to thresh at a couple of antique farming events. It is a day much anticipated, at least by me, and much too short with only an acre to bind and shock. We had a date all set with an antique tractor that had not yet met our 1947 model binder, but we got rained out so my 1949 Minneapolis Moline ZA had to fill in. I know, it was a burden, but someone had to pull through! I cannot wipe the smile off my face as I head down the road about a mile and a half to the wheat we didn’t cut so we could bind.
Once in the field, several hands of experts help to set the binder so that the sickle blades cut low enough to make the stalks long enough to get a string around and to set the stringer so it ties in the right spot so that when you pick up the bundles with a pitch fork, they don’t fall apart. It is especially tricky when the wheat is this ripe and the stalks are so dry! It makes for very bushy bundles, but beautiful shocks. You can see the binder operator behind me on the binder, as we get ready to make the first pass.
From the tractor, it is incredible to watch the waves of wheat cut by the sickle blades and laid over by the reel onto the canvas over and over, just like the ocean currents. Before you is the golden stand of wheat. You can see this from the binder operator seat as well, but the wheat falls right below your feet into the canvas that moves it through where it is pushed together and then tied and spit out the side of the binder to await shocking.
The turning reel and the waves of wheat constantly moving through the canvas to be bundled and tied and dropped into the stubble mesmerize me. Once we finish, everyone helps to form the bundles into shocks which would cure the wheat before being loaded onto wagons to be threshed.
It is a day to be cherished, taking you back in time and leaving your imagination, if you are my age, to dwell in simpler times with honest labor, the fruits of which are right before you. Call me crazy, but I know I would have loved living in this time…or the earlier one with horses before tractors.