Threshing Demonstration

            On the weekend I was invited to a threshing demonstration on the Weber farm just north of Springside, SK.
            Naturally, as it was my weekend to work, I agreed and headed out to the event on a warm fall Saturday.
            The event was something I’ve seen a number of times through the years at events such as the Threshermen's Show and Seniors' Festival held at the Yorkton branch of the Western Development Museum, and a few on-farm events.
            Still, seeing a binder at work, the operator perched on the machine as a second man drove the tractor pretty quickly brought into focus how far farming has come.
            My dad used to talk about binders and stooking, the real work as the sheaves are collected into water-resistant groups, and of course threshing, precursor of the modern combine. Those were stories related not all that long ago in the grand scheme, yet today’s harvest might as well be carried out by extraterrestrials in flying ships by comparison.
            As sometimes happens at one event, someone mentioned that the fall edition of the Pals Draft Horse Field Days in Rama, SK., was also going on the same day. As luck had it, a jaunt down Highway 47 put me at the event.
            It was essentially like turning back the clock on the threshing demonstration by an additional decade, or two.
            Gone were the chugging early editions of the tractor, the power for the binder and other equipment on display at Rama provided instead by horses.
            Even with the horses in harness pulling the machinery it was difficult to truly imagine most of the farmland passed in driving to the two events were once farmed using only horse power, and then tractors that share only the most basic mechanics with those in use today.
            In that respect, even having seen such demonstrations before, the experience of seeing a ‘living’ vision of the past is compelling, especially to someone involved in the industry, albeit from the sidelines as a journalist.
            But the day also left me with a question; how long will such events still be held?
            The equipment is cared for, but is still decades old. It is a fair bet at least some of it will date back a century now, and little mechanical will last forever.
            And at the horse event in particular, grey hair was the norm. Whether helping with the actual demonstrations, or on-hand as spectators, most were at least at middle age, many far past.
            Who will care for the machinery, fix the broken binders, repair the horse harness, operate the machines, in a decade? Or beyond?
            And therein lies a sadness, that a part of our past which today remains a living thread, may be relegated to the pages of a history book. 

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