Shocking corn was high on the list of least liked job on the farm for the Scheckel boys on the Oak Grove Ridge farm outside of Seneca in the heart of Crawford County. Dad bought a new McCormick Deering corn binder and kept it in the west wing of the granary.
That McCormick Deering corn binder was a marvelous machine. Ground driven by a big “bull” wheel, it had two of those large prongs that guide the corn stalk into the cutter. When a sufficient number of corn stalks were cut and gathered in the mechanism, the knotter was activated, the sisal twine cut, and the corn bundle would fall over onto a horizontal elevator. When Dad saw that 3 or 4 bundles were lying on the attachment sled, he activated the chain driven device that moved the bundles onto the ground.
We had a wooden tripod device, called a shocking horse, made of 2 X 4 lumber. It looked like half a sawhorse, where the top 2 X 4 of the saw horse is about 12 feet long and setting on the ground. To start each shock, the 12 inch diameter bundles were set upright on both sides of the long tailed 2 X 4 in teepee fashion. The shock was built up with bundles placed around the perimeter in a balanced fashion so as to not push other bundles over. Not too much on one side or the other and not too many on the other. About 15 or 20 bundles made up a shock.
Dad used a Kelly tier’s head mechanism for tying the shock. Dad would hold a rope, with that Kelly metal movable dog mechanism on the end, in his right hand, draped the other end of the rope in his left hand, swung it around and around over his head in lasso fashion, releasing it at just the right time, so that the weighted end of the rope went all the way around the corn shock.
The loose end of the rope was passed through the dog mechanism and the rope pulled tight. The dog mechanism held the rope taut, while binder twine was placed around the shock and tied. After we tied twine around the shock the rope was released.
Shocking corn was no fun, let me tell you. The bundles were heavy for a little kid. Shocking corn early in the morning was best. Corn leaves, or blades were sharp, and would tend to cut our arms and neck and face. The dew seemed take the edge off the sharp blades.
Shocking corn was hard work. But I must admit, seeing a field of row after row of corn shocks is a neat experience.