The countryside is still and lifeless. Winter on Scheckel farm outside of Seneca, Wisconsin, in middle of Crawford County was not always easy in the 1940s and 1950s.
But in the middle of the chores, there were snowball fights, and corncob “cops and robbers” fights, building snow forts, making tunnels through high drifts, tons of sleigh riding, riding the work horses, Dolly, Prince, and Lightning, bareback.
In cold weather and heavy snow flurries, the horses were usually keep in their stalls in the, yes, the horse barn, and periodically brought out to drink at the water tank, and stand in the nearby pasture with their big butts to the wind, mane blowing around.
The Scheckels cut corn with a corn binder along about mid September, and we built those corn shocks you can yet see in Amish country. We owned a Rosenthal 4 roller corn shedder. We did not always get that shredding down before winter came on. So out to the field we would go with Prince and Dolly pulling a wagon, load up the shocks, and bring them in for shredding.
Some of those corn shocks may have been standing tall for a month or two. And field mice and voles believe they have the perfect roof over their head for the duration. Not so. Phillip, Bob, and I kept an eye on the ground as we toss those corn bundles into the wagon.
Seems like nearly every corn shock, or at least half of them, have a nest of mice making a home underneath. We Scheckel boys did not think mice had a right to exist and we did our best to stomp them out of existence. It was great fun. My dog, Browser, really got a good workout chasing those furry little creatures.
To the farmstead the wagon load of corn shocks would go. The Massey Harris ’44 was belted to the corn shedder. The shedder’s long pipe went into Big Barn, the shreddings being used as fodder, then bedding for the cattle. Our job was to lay each bundle on the platform of the shredder and cut the binder twine holding it together.
We had a single sickle blade attached to the wooden handle. Our hand went through a strap on the end of the handle. That was the tool to cut the twine. Dad fed the corn bundle into the shredder. The shedder separated the ear of corn from the stalk, and a small elevator transported the ear to a waiting wagon.
Shredding corn could be hard work, but usually done in colder weather.