This past Friday we took our annual visit to Sycamore for the Steam Show and Threshing Bee. I have come to really look forward to this day in the country, learning how things used to be done before modern technology made things faster and more efficient for farmers. When I am there I am always reminded not only of my husband’s family history of farming, but also of my uncle who was a fruit farmer in California, and my grandpa who worked on a farm in Michigan as a young boy. They both would have enjoyed this day. I miss them both.
If you remember the children’s books by Richard Scarey, especially What People Do Storybook, the Steam Show will show you what the book illustrates from threshing wheat all the way to grinding it into flour. Growing up I loved these books and it has been fun re-reading them with P. We like to trace with a finger the “path” the wheat takes in the story “Where Bread Comes From”.
Row upon row of tractors, and farmers and their families walking among them to see what’s old. They gather here every year for a chance to use their, in some cases, 100 year old farm equipment, as it would have been used when these were the height of technology. My favorite part of the day is the “noon whistle “, when every implement with a whistle or horn or bell, sounds it for several seconds. It is the coolest cacaphony of sounds, I can’t even describe it. Back in the day though, this was the lunch signal for farm hands to come out of the fields to eat.
Farmers visiting and sharing stories, wearing denim and plaid, shirts tucked in always, caps on.
Hay wagon waiting to be threshed.
P fell in love with a five-day-old calf.
There is a flea market and gathering of artisans, soapmaking, loom-weaving. This woman shared that her pieces are woven out of old clothing, blue-jeans and chenille bedspreads. Recycled beauty.
This steam engine is being driven by father and son. They have just filled their engine with coal (the black stuff in the foreground) and water. Now they will take their turn threshing wheat, or shucking corn, or sawing wood.
There was even a steam powered water pump. Couldn’t just turn on the faucet.
What a great lesson. I learn something new every year.