At Stonefield Village, a Wisconsin Historical site near Cassville, I was talking to a group about the early history of farming last Saturday. Several retired farmers were in the audience and the questions got around to shocking grain and the proper way to do it.
Shocking grain does not mean attempting to scare it or holding an electrified wire to it, as one young person said to me recently. Shocking grain means standing the recently cut grain bundles on end so they will dry and withstand any rain showers that may come by before threshing day, when the grain is hauled to the threshing machine and the kernels and the straw are separated from each other.
It seems in different parts of the Midwest, shocking grain was done differently, enough so that when a group of farmers gathered, they argued about the proper way to do it. Arguments similar to those where a farmer would proclaim the virtues of an International tractor and his neighbor would do the same for John Deere, with neither backing down one engine pop.
In my neighborhood, the shocks contained five pairs of bundles, with no bundle placed across the top. In other parts of the state, shocks included seven pairs of bundles with a bundle or two on top.
What was important, as it turned out, was that no matter how a shock was constructed, it should stand against the wind, and shed water if necessary. Grain shocks should also be things of beauty—to look at when the work was done, and allow one to say “Don’t those grain shocks look nice.”
THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Do it right the first time.
CHECK THIS OUT: A revised edition (all new photos, about 25 percent new and updated material) of BARNS OF WISCONSIN is now available in book stores. My son, Steve, did the photo work.
Saturday, October 30. There is still room in my day-long workshop. Contact: The Clearing Folk School www.theclearing.org P.O. Box 65 | 12171 Garrett Bay Road | Ellison Bay, Wisconsin 54210 Toll Free: 877.854.3225 | firstname.lastname@example.org Monday - Friday 8-4
August 25, 7:00 p.m. Bailey’s Harbor Town Hall, Door County Environmental Council. Ames County Novels plus Old Farm and Barns of Wisconsin.
September 13, 10:00 a.m., Attic Angels Retirement Center, Madison. Horse Drawn Days.
September 14, noon, Waupaca Library, Waupaca, WI. Ames County Novels.
September 18-19, Creekside Books, Cedarburg, WI. Barns and Horse Drawn Days.