Harvesting Crunch | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Harvesting Crunch

Oct 22, 2019

In fall of 1912, the crops seemed bounteous. The Washburn Leader even published a long article by Professor Thomas Shaw, who noted that North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota had produced a crop that was larger and better than in the past two decades, with "conditions for growth, except in a few localities, … almost perfect."

However, farmers needed help getting the bounty pulled in. By the end of September, the Fargo Forum had put out a call for men to come to North Dakota to help with threshing. With ideal weather for the task at hand, and promising high wages, they hoped to bring in enough men to help farmers across the state. Some even called for the railroad to offer free transportation to for the workers.

The weather, however, turned wet, even with some early touches of snow, making threshing quite problematic, since the grain needed to be dry.

In early October, the Courier Democrat said, "Threshing is being rushed ahead at this late season under the big disadvantages of every machine being short-handed as many of the men who came here a month ago to thresh have become discouraged with the continued wet spell of weather and left on the trains of the past week for the lumber camps in Minnesota."

Still, the Jamestown Alert reported that in Cleveland, North Dakota, "Threshing is again under full headway after being delayed for several days. Nearly all rigs are running short of help, but are making good headway under the conditions."

And then this peculiarity, reported on this date, amongst stories of trial and success: While threshing, A. L. Bistodeou of Tower City discovered one of his cows was missing. After looking for a few days, he concluded she must have gotten buried under the straw pile! He dug several feet into the pile, but did not see or hear her. Since several days had passed, he gave up, figuring she was dead somewhere under the hay.

However, the cow showed up 18 days after the threshing, "so poor and weak that she was barely able to walk. At first it seemed to hurt her to eat and drink, but after a few days, she was able to do this without any trouble."

It was a threshing miracle!

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker

Sources:

Bismarck Daily Tribune, Oct. 22, 1912, p.1

Courier Democrat, October 3, 1912, p1 and p5

Washburn Leader, Oct. 4, 1912, p1

Fargo Forum, September 30, p1; October 2, p1

Jamestown Weekly Alert, Nov 21, 1912, p5; October 10, 1912, p12