July 5, 2011

Working in Pennsylvania: Thrashing

Our journey to Horse Progress Days in Pennsylvania started early, sidelined at our friend Henry's farm to help him with an important summer chore. The family was gathered for thrashing - that is the process of cutting straw, putting it through a thrasher that both releases the speltz off the shaft (used as a grain for feeding the livestock) and bales straw. It is a hot, noisy, dusty, dirty job - one that requires co-operation from human laborers and animal workers alike.

Click on the title of this blog to see a video of this process on Youtube.

The best part of this chore is gathering under the shade trees afterwards, drinking mint iced tea and eating rich chocolate cake and ice cream. Listening to seasoned farmers tell their war stories with mules and work horses, watching the children gallop their ponies through the barnyard. It is a rich life.

Photos: Top: The eldest daughter stands by one of three mule teams, watching the straw come through the thrasher.
Second: Moving the straw along.
Third: One of the young sons bringing another load in on a flat wagon.
Four: Belts powered by the engine of a dozer run the thrasher. The mule team is pulled up right along side this horrendously noisy machine, and stand there while workers unload the straw.
Bottom: The three teams (five mules and a Perch cross) standing at the hitching rail after the job is done, glad to be resting, too.

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