Stepping Back in Time: An Old-Fashioned Threshing Bee

History fascinates me. When I’m not geeking out over agriculture and photography, I’m a total nerd about things that happened decades and centuries ago.

Each Labor Day, there is an old-fashioned threshing bee held near Colfax, WA. A threshing machine run by a steam engine is set up, and teams of mules and horses cut and haul the grain to be threshed. It was fascinating to watch, and there was a great crowd in attendance. (Here’s a pretty neat animation on how a threshing machine works.

Old-Fashioned Threshing Bee - Harvesting with Mules

The neat thing about history is how much importance it plays in your present life. You are where you are because of what has happened before today. If you don’t know it used to take 15 men, horses and slow progress to harvest a field of wheat or barley, then it’s harder to understand the significance of how farmers are able to harvest grain today.

Old-Fashioned Threshing Bee - Mule Team

I suspect a lot of the people watching this year’s threshing bee had never seen draft horses or mules work. Some of them probably haven’t had a chance to experience modern agriculture. Each piece of information and each experience a person has helps shape their opinions. Events like old-fashioned threshing bees provide a base for understanding agriculture’s history and where it is coming from.

Transferring the grain from one wagon to the other for threshing

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  1. Nice idea

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