Without a doubt by 1920, the year I was born, the Herolds were considered successful, progressive farmers. The new barn with a cement floor throughout was equipped with individual steel stanchions, drinking cups with running water, pens for calves and a bull, and wooden stalls for four horses. A manure carrier and track made barn cleaning easy.

Large fields were plowed with a three bottom plow drawn by a large 15 x 30 International tractor with lugs. Because that big cumbersome tractor needed a large area to turn around, no power steering you know, Dad plowed small fields with the single bottom walking plow drawn by two powerful horses. Sometimes I walked along the furrow behind him picking up angle worms for his next fishing excursion. He was an avid fisherman, one of the few pleasures he allowed himself. He and the boys fished the back waters on Goose Island on the rare occasions when they could leave the demands of the farm behind for a few hours. Those were the days before the dams were built on the Mississippi, and more land was above the water level of the river. Several farms were located on the island. The streams they fished were more free flowing and fresh.

Dad owned most of the available horse drawn planting and harvesting machines – a seeder for grains and legumes, a corn planter, a hay mower, both a dump rake and a side delivery rake for preparing the hay, a hay loader for elevating the hay into a wagon, a grain binder and a threshing machine. A large portion of the cultivated acres was planted to hay crops – clover, timothy, and some alfalfa. Alfalfa was hard to maintain at that time because the hardier strains had not yet been developed. When hay harvest time approached, Dad would be sharpening the sickle, the five foot bar with sharp, diamond shaped sections that moved back and forth in its frame thus cutting off the growth in the field. After two or three days of good drying weather the hay was ready to be stored in the mow—the top story of the barn. If the field was a steep side hill, it would be raked with a dump rake. This rake gathered the hay in a roll inside the rake, then when the rider pulled the lever the rake tines were raised and the load was dumped on a pile. Other family members followed with pitch forks gathering the hay into larger piles. The next step, using pitch forks again, we tossed the hay into the horse drawn wagon with a basket rack. Someone on the wagon spread it around and packed it down. One of us kids was often an extra on the load to help with the packing. Dad always put as much as possible on the load because it was a long drive from field to barn always across that scary bridge. Even the horses were nervous crossing the bridge probably because of the rattling, hollow sound created by the steel wheels of the wagon on the boarded surface.

Next time: More About Farming in Chipmunk Coulee


Westby Times editor

Dorothy Robson is editor of the Westby Times. Contact her at 608-637-5625.

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