Neighbors near Lynd come together and get the threshing machine fired up once a year. The tradition was started by Mike and Sandy Buesing. This annual ritual will continue, now that Mike and Emily Pokeheart have taken over the threshing day duties. Photo by Ida Kesteloot
In some communities, it seems like the old- fashioned style of neighboring is a thing of the past. But that is not the case in a close-knit farming community like the one located just a few miles from the small town of Lynd, Minn.
For many years, the folks of Lynd were brought together through the hard work and hospitality of one devoted couple. Mike and Sandy Buesing were determined to preserve the farming tradition and to bring together family, friends and neighbors. As a result, a neighborhood tradition came about, and the old-fashioned method of harvesting oats was shared.
“I have a lot of memories of the years when threshing was a big part of farming. Not every farmer had a threshing machine, and often the men who owned the big machines would travel throughout the area with a crew harvesting for whoever needed the work done. Sometimes neighbors would help each other out with the work and everybody got the threshing done,” said Mike. “It was exciting to see the threshing machine pull into your fields.”
“When I had a chance to buy the threshing machine, I just couldn’t pass it up, and then we decided to make a big deal of it. I opened it up to anyone who wanted to help or just enjoyed watching. I have several old restored tractors, and we invited others to bring their tractors. Everybody enjoys a chance to show off their favorite old tractor, and all farmers enjoy a chance to look over old equipment,” said Mike.
“Along with all the hard work a big part of threshing time was all the food preparation. If they were in your field then you were responsible for feeding the whole crew. That usually meant three big meals every day they were there. These meals always included home-baked bread as well as pie or cake for dessert. They could really put away the food. So with that in mind we decided to include a pot luck meal at noon, and everybody would bring a couple of dishes to pass, and there were always picnic tables full of wonderful homemade food. It is just another tradition that everybody loves,” said Sandy.
“As a kid I grew up learning farming with my dad and brother, and I am kind of partial to the color red when it comes to my tractors, but I have learned to let a little green in here and there. All old tractors are great. For the threshing day we also invited guys who have horses they used for farm work to bring them and participate in the event,” said Mike.
“Years ago I bought the threshing machine that had belonged to Charles Swanson and wanted to see it used again, but threshing is a big job, and no one can do it alone. There have been a lot of people that helped out over the years, and I think we have all enjoyed bring the past back and seeing the various equipment used again. Most of us don’t work on an old tractor or piece of equipment to see it sit in a shed and gather dust. We do it to hear it run and see it do the job it was meant to do when it was built,” said Mike.
Mike and Sandy Buesing started the threshing tradition many years ago. Contributed photo
Due to age and health conditions the Buesings were forced to hold their final threshing event, and for one year, the tradition seemed to go by the wayside, and many people missed the social gathering. Both Mike and Sandy knew a young neighbor, Mike Pokeheart, had an interest in the threshing tradition as well as a love of old equipment and were very happy to sell him the equipment.
Like Buesing, Pokeheart and his dad, Louie Pokeheart, have a collection of old tractors and have a strong desire to see old equipment used and appreciated for the years of service it has provided.
Pokeheart and his wife, Emily and their three children, Belinda, Dean and Laura, live on the building site that once belonged to Charles Swanson, so when he bought the threshing machine and binder, it was like bringing an old friend home. In August the Pokehearts hosted their first threshing event at their place just a few miles from the Buesing farm.
“I am very excited about the event for the first time; it will be the first of many if my wife Emily thinks everything went O.K.,” joked Pokeheart. She has worked really hard to get food ready and everything set up. I couldn’t have done it without her help and all the friends and family that have volunteered to make this happen. Everybody has been just great. We have a typical threshing kind of day, weather wise, very hot with just a little breeze. It was always a hot sticky job, and we will be hot and itchy by the time we are done today, but it is very exciting. Something I have thought about doing for a long time, and now we are doing it. What could be better than that?” asked Pokeheart.
“I think it is great to have the equipment back where it started all those years ago. It just feels so right to have it here. It is in nice shape. Mike Buesing always took good care of it the years that he had it, and it shows. It is ready for some work,” said Pokeheart. “I grew up on a farm, and though I don’t make my living as a farmer, I work on farm equipment. It is in my blood. I grew up with green tractors, not red like the Buseings, but a good tractor is a good tractor whatever color it is.”
The threshing machine is a Bell City Threshing machine and was manufactured in 1938. Pokeheart also owns the binder, which was once owned by Swanson, a 1930 – 1020 McCormick, amazingly both pieces still carry their original stickers from their manufactured days.
“It is good to see the equipment ready today. Mike is excited; we all are. We have worked together on all the tractors we have out here today, and we have enjoyed doing that very much. Most everybody here today has a deep appreciation for the old equipment, and many of us have great memories of pieces our grandfathers or dads had. It looks like it will be a nice day for it, and it seems to be a good crowd pulling in, so this is a great beginning for a new location and an old tradition,” said Pokeheart’s dad, Louie.
Late in the morning the threshing machine was roaring to go, and Pokeheart’s son, Dean, and neighbor, Tanner Thooft, began pitching shocks of grain. Golden chaff and noise filled the air and drew a wide variety of on lookers close to see just how their ancestors did it so many farming years ago. In no time the first of many hay racks was empty, and the machine was shut down long enough to give everyone a chance to enjoy the pot luck meal. Threshing would resume once everyone had their fill of the delicious assortment of food.
The Pokehearts provided barbecue and corn on the cob that were served with the many side dishes and sweets brought by those attending the event. As one stood in the chow line, stories about farming could be heard from all sides. Farmers will stand around and swap farming stories with complete strangers like no other breed of men and women will. Once a farmer always a farmer at heart.