After the grain had ripened sufficiently in the shocks, it was ready
to be threshed so that the farmer could sell it. The threshing process,
where grain was removed from the stalks, was accomplished
through the use of a threshing machine. Large farmers usually owned
their own threshing machines, but many times farmers depended on custom
threshermen to do the threshing for them. Regardless of machine ownership,
however, the threshing process required a huge amount of labor. Each
member of the threshing crew had a specific job to accomplish when the threshing rig arrived.
The steam engineer set it up in a
location close to the grain field, or where the farmer wished to have
the straw blown. Next, the steam engine was belted up to the threshing
machine, and all the pre-threshing maintenance was completed on the
threshing machine. Concurrently and after the threshing machine was
started, a team of workers called "bundle haulers" went out into
the field and loaded shocks onto a horse-drawn wagon. After the wagon
was filled, the bundle haulers then brought it up to the spot where
the threshing machine was set up.
Soon the threshing machine was started, and men standing on top
of the wagon pitched down the grain bundles into the threshing machine's
bundle feeder. The conveying chain of the bundle feeder then transported
the grain bundles into the threshing machine cylinder where most of
the grain was separated from the stalks. The separated grain fell
to the bottom of the threshing machine, while chaff and dust was removed
by a fan as it descended. An elevator on the threshing machine then
transported the loose grain into a grain wagon parked nearby or into
individual bags, depending on the method that the farmer preferred.
After the straw went through the cylinder, it was continually battered
as it progressed along, ensuring that all the grain was removed from
the stalks. At the rear of the threshing machine, after the straw
had passed over the straw walkers, it was deposited in a fan housing
which propelled the straw through the blower and into the straw stack.
This series of machine processes was repeated continuously, until
all of the farmer's grain was threshed. Overall, while there definitely
was an immense amount of labor involved in the use of a threshing
machine, it drastically improved the efficiency and capacity of the
threshing process over previous methods.