Preserving the Past: Brossart Held Grain Binding
Demonstration for Family
"Preserving the Past: Brossart Held Grain Binding Demonstration for Family." Pierce County Tribune, 18 December 2004, 7.
Though many decades have gone by, Rugby resident Valentine
Brossart still has many vivid memories of spending time working
on the farm with his father.
In an effort to preserve some of his forefather’s heritage,
Brossart gathered many of his children and grandchildren together
on a sunny day last month to demonstrate to them first-hand how
a grain binder works.
He said this was something he had looked forward to doing for a
very long time but never had a chance to do until now.
After a crank of the engine, Brossart fired up the old W-30 McCormick-Deering
that was just like the first tractor he remembers riding on as a
young boy with his dad at the wheel. In later years, he would be
the one that would run it, after the days of using binders that
The McCormick-Deering Tractor Binder was operated from the tractor
through the shaft running out of the rear, making the binder independent
of ground conditions. This power take-off, as it is called, is regularly
supplied with all tractors. The binder, being independent of ground
conditions, can operate when a horse-drawn binder would find it
difficult, if not impossible, to cut grain. The McCormick-Deering
Harvester-Thresher was the most modern type of grain-harvesting
machine. It cut 40-50 acres per day and threshed the grain, delivering
it after a thorough cleaning, into a grain tank. From the tank,
the grain could be drawn off into motor truck or wagon and was hauled
to the granary.
The grain was cut using this grain binder, which required cutting
the grain a few days before it was ripe. The grain binder cut the
standing grain and wrapped twine around six to eight diameter inch
groups of straw, then kicked them onto a steel carrier.
When the carrier had eight to ten bundles it was dropped to the
ground, which allowed the bundles to slide off the carrier’s
steel rods. Each cutting pass dumped bundles in a line with those
on the ground so when the field was cut it had several bundle rows
Shortly after cutting, the shockers picked up the bundles and set
them with the grain up, in the shape of a tepee. Usually there were
eight to 12 bundles to a shock. The grain ripened while in the shock.
Depending on the size and weight of each bundle, a shock would tuck
one or two bundles under each arm and pick up four to six other
bundles by the twine band and carry then to a shock site.
A few week later a threshing machine (sometimes referred to as a
separator) was brought to the grain field to separate grain from
stalks/straw, which was a procedure requiring quite a number of
workers. It was during this phase of the operation that the much-appreciated
“soldier harvesters” were sent to Rugby during World
War II to help out before the were sent overseas to fight the war.
One person was the operator, usually the owner of the threshing
machine and tractor required to power it. The operation, usually
required four to eight bundle wagons to haul bundles from the shocks
to the threshing machines and usually four “pitchers”
who pitched the bundles from the shock onto the bundle hauler placed
bundles neatly and securely in rows from front to back of the wagon
to get more on it and to make it easier to pitch them off and into
the threshing machine. It was the water boy’s responsibility
to take fresh well water to each member of the “threshing
crew” as they were called.
Not only were men required, but three to six ladies prepared a
large lunch for the “crew” plus themselves and the children
too small to help with the threshing.
Threshing crews would travel from one farm to the next throughout
the neighborhood, including the ladies preparing lunched in the
cook car, like the one that is located at the Prairie Village Museum.
A typical lunch would consist of fried chicken, mashed potatos,
gravy, fresh peas, beans or corn, sliced tomatoes, and iced tea,
whenever ice was available. The crew would wash up for lunch at
the house well pump. Most of the farm houses could not accommodate
a full crew of approximately 20 eating at the dinning table at the
same, so they ate in two shifts and slept in the barns or Quonset-huts.
Brossart said has always been very important to him and has also
been a lot of fun to be able to demonstrate the old way of farming
to the younger generation. He also has a few antique tractors that
have been restord that he hopes to one day demonstrate when the
time is right.
(above and riding at left) gathered many of his children
and grandchildren together one day last month to demonstrate
to them first-hand how a grain binder works. Brossart wanted
to show the younger generation how farmers used to harvest
the old fashioned way.
Photos by Peggy Burgard
Brossarts Honored at NDSU Harvest Bowl
Valentine and Alice Brossart (left)
were honored at the NDSU Harvest bowl dinner Oct 29. NDSU
President Joseph Chapman (right) presented the Agricultural
Valentine and Alice Brossart, Rugby, were among a group of outstanding
agriculturists form each county in North Dakota and western Minnesota
honored at the North Dakota State University Harvest Bowl awards
dinner Oct. 29. NDSU President Joseph A. Chapman presented the Agriculturist
The Harvest Bowl was established in 1937 to recognize respected
community citizens who are dedicated to agriculture as a vocation.
In 1970, the first Harvest Bowl scholarships were awarded to Bison
student athletes. During its 31 years, Harvest Bowl has recognized
more than 1,800 agriculturists and awarded more than $66,000 in
scholarships to students with agricultural backgrounds.
The Brossart represent Pierce County. Valentine and Alice, along
with their sons, raise wheat, barley, durum, corn, canola and sunflowers
and have a cow/calf operation on their farm near Rugby. They have
served as 4-H leaders and on school and church boards. Valentine
and Alice are parents of nine children, four of which are NDAU graduates.
Printed with permission of the Pierce County Tribune