St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Granary Dust

Such a beautiful January day in 44F and even a little sun breaking through occasionally, and with son Scott here to give me an hand, we tackled another cleanup job--the farm granary.  

Step one in cleaning the granary:  add some props to the somewhat rickety stairway going up.  Dad was 160 lbs, Scott and I are a little bigger and the steps are a little older.  This is actually the "after" photo with a pile of oats, hulled by mice, below the landing.  I did the same last year, and the oats doesn't grow, just sprouts an nice crop of toadstools.  I plan on using it for mulch in the garden.  Not even would the birds eat it as it is thoroughly mouse chewed.  
Aug, 1948, with elm lumber sawn that spring from the woods along Wolf Creek, Dad, his brothers and the Fors boys stuck up the first new building on the farm since Dad moved in back in 1941.  The war was over, farmers had some money left from the good prices during the war, and with a new Farmall B tractor, farming was going to be on a larger scale.  
Below in the garage Aug 1948

The old granary was actually an old farm house pulled from 1/2 mile up the road (on the same 60 acres where the trees for the new building were cut) down to John Nelson's farm on Evergreen Av. 

The story of moving the old house down here was like many stories in the neighborhood, one that showed "character" of the folks nearby.  We are not sure when it was moved, but likely around 1920 - 1930.  The story came from the Nelson family who did the move.  

Houses were moved in the winter time when the ground was frozen and snow covered.  Using screw jacks, the building was raised a foot or two in the air, then big logs were slid under the middle (hewed flat on the bottom and rounded up in front like a ski).  The house was then lowered on the logs, fastened tightly, and on a chosen day the neighbors gathered for a house moving party.  

John Nelson had a nice team of horses that he hooked directly in front the house.  The team was likely 12-20 feet out in front connected by log chains.  In front of that, neighbor Gullicksons's team was connected with harnesses to do a 4 horse hitch.   Mr. Gullickson had a very good team and was quite careful with them as well as having somewhat of a reputation of looking out for himself ahead of his neighbors (this, of course, is the Nelson version of it).  
Not moving the house here on the farm, but one from the internet.  Much larger house, many more horses here.   In the old days, winter was the time to pick up a house and move it.  Even some moved back and forth across the St Croix River on the ice.

Anyway, the move was across country on the flattest route possible rather than by roads.  Fences were let down, and all the way over was level except for one hill that had to drop down somewhat steeply and then back up less height.  

As old loggers and used to hauling huge loads of logs, the Nelsons were prepared with hay to put in front of the runners under the house to slow them down going down the hill.  The two teams were in front and as they started down the hill, the house decided to come along faster than the horses were walking even with the hay.  
The Hanson Farm in the 1950s looking towards it from the east. Silo (replacement for a wood silo), new wall under the lower part of the barn, the pump shed, and in the big poplars, the house.
The result--the house ran up on one of John Nelson's horses and broke it leg, requiring it to be shot.  According to John, he tried to get Mr. Gullickson (Walter's dad) to speed up his team, but he refused to push them any faster than a walk and so the house overtook the back team, 

Well, after than long side story, the old house was rat and mouse filled and a terrible granary for an up and coming new farmer.  So it was torn down, and the new granary built in time for the August 1948 threshing of the oats.  

Grandpa Pearl Hanson loved Rumely Oil Pull tractors and since about 1915 or so he always had two of them until the later years when he kept just one.  He pulled in his big separator (threshing machine), lined up the Rumely and tightened the belt and the next day the Rutsches, Noyes, Uncle Chan, Uncle Maurice, Uncle Alvin and other neighbors all came to haul oats shocks in and run it through separating oats from straw.  The blower built a huge straw stack and the oats got sacked and hauled by wagon to the granary where it was carried up to the second story (above the car/tractor garage) and dumped in to the bins.  

I first remember the threshing, then grandpa bought a combine and we no longer need a crew and neighbor Raymond got an elevator, Bert Brenizer bought a 1950 (?) pickup truck and we unloaded in the field into the truck, hauled it to the granary and shoveled in the elevator and up into the granary it went. 

My first job was in the granary, shoveling the upcoming oats into the bins and spreading it out.  Unbelievably dusty!  After two days or so of this, I was unable to breathe through my mouth for the next month.  I suppose it was an allergy.  But that was just part of farming.  
Scott is nearing the finish shoveling out the oats hulls in bin 2
The spots are dust in the air and on the camera lens.  We hadn't quite filtered it all through our lungs yet.  In the corner are old lathes, a TV, screens and windows, oats, in the upper corner, a full 2-horse harness unused since 1948 and other junk to be sorted, burned, recycled or saved.  

The last time oats went into the granary was the mid 1980s.  Then Byron and Dad both got rid of their cattle, and the oats that was up there just sat until last year when I got ambition enough to shovel out one side-- probably 100 bushels.  The mice had spent so much time in the oats bin that each kernel was chewed and only the hulls and dust remained.  I couldn't take any more of the dust so let it sit a whole year, until today when, with Scott's help, we emptied out the other side too.  
Bins for oats, soybeans, rye, vetch, and storm windows were separated by old doors.  That cameraman needs to dust his lens!

The fanning mill with the washing machine motor connected in place of the hand crank.  

Full 2-horse harness set that I plan to pass along to Mark Johnson, my neighbor with work horses (probably very early some Sunday morning when no one is stirring--a driveby delivery!).  They are pristine--having been unused and shedded since 1947 when Dad bought the Farmall B from Nicky Jensen in Cushing and gave up horse farming.  "I can go out at night after I finish milking the cows and with the B plow more land with the lights on than if I used the team of horses all day long.  And I don't feel sorry for overworking the B."  You can see a brass hame ball sticking out on the left.  I don't have the horse collars though.  I think we used them to cushion the outhouse seats!  At Mark's place last week at the SELHS Christmas Party, he showed me some of the harness tools--leather punches, riveters, cutters etc.  I think with just a little oil and elbow grease, they would be ready to use!  There are bits, eye flaps, all sorts of metal buckles, and stuff, and of course these are genuine leather. 

The fanning mill is filled junk set on it.  On top is a heat houser for the Farmall Super C.  It was a canvas cab that Dad used in the winter.  It has a clear plastic windscreen and sort of funnels heat from the engine into the driver's area.  Dad had farms spread out over about 2 miles.  In winter, he might haul wood from one to the other or plow snow or spread manure running the tractor at 15 mph up and down the roads--very chilly without the heat houser.  

A Farmall Super C with Heat Houser (not mine).  I have to clean up the one in the granary and see if it is functional and maybe put it on the Super C next winter.  I also have an umbrella mount for an IHC tractor to that I used during my 4 year career as a Stokelys Bean picking migrant worker.
A Deere and Webber # 1 with carrying handles.  Probably 100 or more years old.  Fanning mills were to clean the oats, rye, beans or whatever so farmers, who planted their own seed, didn't plant weed seed too.  Also, if you had wheat to grind for flour, you ran it through the mill to clean it.  You dumped oats into the top, ran the crank (or motor) and it worked its way down over several screens and a big fan to shake, screen and blow out the chaff.  Great grandpa in Sweden threshed on the threshing floor with flails and winnowed the seed by throwing it in the air to let the wind blow away the chaff.  Always as the old sayings goes, separating the wheat from the chaff.  We shoveled out only chaff as the mice ate the core of the oats. 

After it was shoveled out, and some of the items moved aside, it is starting to look a little more manageable.  The walls are about 5 feet on the side and so very quickly it is comfortable standing in from the edge.  The floors are tight, planed and smooth and will make a nice wood floor -- after a lot of sweeping, vacuuming and a scraping here and there.  Not sure what kind of wood they are--maybe elm, but could be basswood too.  Not much "grain" in the wood, just in the cracks!

The stairway down.  Maybe I should put a stairway inside the garage to the upstairs (note I am already not calling it the granary!)

The photos show some of the items stored in the granary.  The floor is nice, the bin partitions will all come out, and there will be a nice big open area for something.  Maybe a wood working shop?  Maybe an apartment for visitors.  Maybe we will take up farming and fill it with oats again!

My neighbor George asked me about selling my fanning mill last year about this time.  His cousin makes beer, and George was thinking about growing an acre of wheat and maybe trying some hops over on his family's Bass Lake farm.  However, what we dream about in January does not always come to pass in spring.  I told him since I have two fanning mills, this one and a Hero in the youngstock barn, I though maybe I might be able to spare one!

Finally we come to a narrow inner tube for a tire.  Old ones never were thrown away, as one never knew when you might need some stretch rubber for a band, or even for a sling shot.  This one has some cuts indicating use for something.  I would have liked to have found an old real red rubber tube, but that is life. 

Scott and I are now in the house coughing up oats, sneezing chaff and itching all over.  But, the granary is much closer to being in control again.  The mice will have to move on, I hope.