Recent History – 2001
Cross-posted: BN08-69 (Agriculture)
Sept. 17, 2001
By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
Ten acres of wheat destined for needy countries
With the help of some old-fashioned machinery and plenty of toil, work began over the weekend on harvesting wheat destined for the less fortunate of the world.
In the process, members of the Northview Mennonite congregation got a feel for what harvesting was like back in the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s.
They spent Saturday “stooking” or putting bundles of wheat into standing piles on the field, and Sunday pitching those bundles onto horse-drawn wagons and then into a thresher that dates back between 40 and 70 years.
“It was hard on the lower back,” said James Klassen of the stooking. He also experienced the feel of seed heads and thistles poking through his sleeves despite wearing long sleeves buttoned up.
But he had no complaints.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” he said.
It began this spring when the congregation from Northview Mennonite Brethren purchased about $1,000 worth of seed and convinced local farmer Ross Ravelli to plant it on about 10 acres of his land.
The project is a local contribution to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, a partnership of 13 churches that provides food and development assistance to those who need it most. The donations are increased significantly thanks to the federal government, which provides an additional four grains for each grain raised for the Bank to a maximum of $16 million.
About three acres of the 10 acre crop was taken off with the help of a McCormick Deering swather and thresher, both owned by Ed Carlson, that date somewhere between 1930 and 1956. There were also accompanying trucks and tractors that dated from that era, including a 1936 two-ton Ford owned by Glenn McTavish.
Carlson and his colleagues kept a close eye on the machinery, which generally worked well. The crop is yielding about 70 bushels an acre of about average quality wheat.
“We had fun,” Carlson said. “It’s better than taking a trip to Hawaii as far as I’m concerned.”
For those like Bill Meerman the day brought back many memories.
“When we were young fellas, we’d do this for a month, everyday, seven in the morning until about seven at night,” he said. “But I tell you, I’m 70 years old and I still enjoy it.”
For ten-year-old Kyle Carlson it was a chance to try something new. He forked the bundles onto the wagon and into the thresher, mixed grain around and tried some stooking.
He said the work was harder than he expected. What made it so hard? “Throwing the great big haystacks up really high,” he said.
But he added that it was something he wouldn’t mind doing every day.
Church pastor Cory Lizotte, who returned to Dawson Creek in mid-July after three years of theology school, found the project to be inspirational.
“Just seeing the old-time technology. The thresher working like a charm. The horses and the wagons,” he said. “It’s a nice feeling knowing that some things don’t have to change. It’s a comforting feeling seeing other ways of doing things.”