by Joe McCarter (In His Father's Voice)

Henry Bauscher came to the Prairie about the time we went to Montana. He'd bought a relinquishment or homesteaded on Davis flat south of the Malad on a pretty sorry piece of ground, but Henry was a goer. When we got back from Montana, he was farmin' more land and had a threshin' machine and was doin' a good bit of all the threshin' on his end of the Prairie. Henry was a dutchman straight from Germany. His English never did get too good, but he was a real character and was always good for laughs.

Compared to the way it's done nowadays, threshin' was a helluva chore. First, the grain had to be cut and bundled. I can barely remember, but when I was a small kid the old man did this with a big scythe and what was called a cradle. The cradle was made outta light wood and was a framework that stood above the blade of the scythe so that as the grain was cut, it laid on the cradle.

When there was enough for a bundle, the grain was laid out to one side and the kids of the family would come along and tie it up usin' straws from the bundle. Several bundles was then leaned together to make a shock. This took a little ketchin' on to do right as you had to start with three or four bundles leanin' together with the heads up, of course, and then leanin' more against them.

After the grain was shocked and had cured a little, you had to haul and stack the bundles. Usually two fellers working together with big bundle pitchforks could put a shock up on a wagon load with one lift. The bundles were hauled to a stack and usually pitched on the stack by hand or, if there was a lot of grain, with a derrick and Jackson fork.

After the binders come in they made the cuttin' a lot easier and quicker. They usually had an 8 or 10 foot cut and were pulled with four head of horses. They cut and tied the bundles and you could hold enough bundles on the binder to make a shock so the shockers didn't have to walk so much carryin' bundles to the shocks. You still had to haul and stack the grain though.

Later on, folks started usin' headers. The first I'd seen of one of these was in Montana. They had the cuttin' platform, usually 12 foot, out in front of a long pole with a draper runnin' over and out so that as the grain was cut it was carried over to the right side and up into a wagon with a header box on it.

It was pushed with four head of horses, one team on each side of the pole. The skinner stood on a platform at the back of the pole holdin' a tiller between his legs that he could steer a crazy wheel with. He could set the height of the cutter bar with another lever and the job took some skill and a fair horseman. It was always called punchin' header.

Course, you had to have a team and wagon there all the time to haul the grain to the stack. It finally got so some was haulin' from the header direct to the thresher. This really took a lot of help and horses as the thresher could keep up with three or four headers unless the grain was real heavy. It did save stackin' the grain which was always a job.

When the thresher come, they'd pull in and set up by the stack. There was a table where the grain had to be pitched or Jackson forked onto. It would be set right besides the stack or sometimes there'd be two stacks side by side with a little alley between 'em where the table was set. Two fellers worked on this table with small pitchforks that'd had the tines bent down square like a hoe. They'd rake the grain off the table onto a draper that carried the grain right to the threshin' machines cylinder.

This job was called workin' on the hoe down and was about the dirtiest job of all and you had to make sure the machine was fed at a steady rate. Course it took two or three other men to get the grain onto the table and they'd usually spell the hoe downers off. Breathin' that dirt and chaff was pretty tough.

On the other end of the machine you had a sack sower and jigger and two or so other fellers to handle the sacks. Then you had to have another team and wagon with a hay rack to haul straw to the engine, as well as a tank wagon to haul water for the engine. Then of course the engineer who usually pitched the straw into the fire box.

Well to get back to Henry, you can see that there was a lot of organizin' goin' on all the time. There was two or three hours of fillin' grease cups and fixin' things let alone feedin', curryin' and harnessin' the horses, as well as gettin' steam in the boiler before breakfast. Henry claimed that most of the harvest season he, "Lait down at two and god up at tree."

Anyway, after breakfast was over and all the teams hitched, the engineer would give a couple toots on the whistle for seven o'clock and start the belt rollin'.

The engine drove the thresher with a big long flat belt. It was long because it was safer to have the engine a fair distance away from the grain stacks and machine because there was always chances of sparks blowin' around. Gettin' them old awkward steam tractors lined up just right so the belt would stay on the pulleys good was a job in itself.

As I said before, Henry could be real comical and he was one of those fellers who seems like ever'body liked to play tricks on. Now, ever mornin' after all the harnessin' and greasin' and all and the bundles was goin' in and the grain rollin' out, Henry would walk out a ways from the machine to do his job. Seemed like on ever' crew he had there'd be one guy who would watch and when Henry was makin' progress, would grab the belt and start it off the pulley and yell, "Belt's off."

Henry'd always react the same way. He'd start cussin' in dutch first, runnin' second, and pullin' up his pants third. This'd happen more mornings than not and it was always funny.

Henry would come around to line up the threshin' jobs each summer and him and me'd always have a good visit. Like as not, he'd have some hide peeled from some escapade he'd been in, and I'd ask him about it and get a great story. Although, it wasn't hard to get 'im started.

One time, after inquirin' about some scrapes on his face, the story came out like this, "Oh, dem damn boys." Henry had three boys that were notorious for playin' tricks on him.

"Dat Frred, he comes in on a motorcycle de udder day, and dey vont to bet me I can't rite da damn ting. Hell, I ride von of dem in da olt country. I get on it an rite down the road a vays and turn around and rite back and right dere ver I vas goin' to stop, dos damn boys had left der team und vagon.

I says, "Jesus, Henry. What'd you do?"

"Hell, vat could I do? I run into the back of da vagon und da damn team runs avay and tips over the windmill. Dos damn boys."

Henry tells me one time about gettin' run over with a disk. It was just after he had got his first tractor and was pullin' an old horse drawn disk, one you set in and out with two levers in front of the seat on the disk.

This accident could have been a lot worse than it was, but it was early in the spring and he was wearin' a lot of heavy clothes. I think Henry may have been like the cat and had more'n one life.

To tell it, Henry says, "It vas early last spring, and I vas makin' da virst round on dat 80 just behind the house. I vas anxious to get started as I'd just put new disks on de old disk an I wanna make sure it's gonta work all right.

"Now, I vas cuttin' out a wet svale dat I figgered I couldn't cross vitout gettin' stuck and the veels were slippin' a little, so I tinks I'll just step back on da disk and set it out a notch or two. Vell, my foot shlips and right unter dat sonofabitch I go."

I says, "Jesus Christ, Henry!"

"Oh, Shzus Christ!" Henry says, "Der damn ting is draggin' me along an' rollin' me over now and then an den da front gang goes over da top of me and then der damn tandem drags me a vays and den it goes over der top of me.

"Bill, I'll tell ya, I vould just like ta laid right dere an died, ven I tinks, vere in hell vill der damn ting go? And you know I haf to get up and run to ketch der goddamn ting."

Henry was about as tough as they come. I remember one time down at Ed Gibbon's Fourth of July picnic, they was puttin' on a little rodeo with some of the local kids tryin' to ride three or four ol' broncs. Eddy Taylor was probably fifteen or sixteen years old at the time and was pretty good ridin' the tough ones.

Henry was there of course, like about ever'one else, and he was goin' around sayin', "By Gott, I vanta see liddle Ed ride." When it come Eddy's turn again, Henry decides he can get a better look on the other side of the chute and walks in front of it just as they turn Eddy's horse out.

The old bronc upends Henry and runs clear over the top of him. Henry don't seem to think much about it. He just gets up to see Eddy finish the ride, and he's still got his pipe in his mouth.

Henry comes to see me early in the spring one year. I'm batchin' as Janey is stayin' in town with the kids all goin' to school down there. I'd cooked up a little dinner just before Henry shows up and I invite 'im to help me eat it. He'd brought up a sow to get bred. I had them purebred Poland-China hogs at the time and a couple of good boars.

I told Henry he'd ought to unhitch and put his team in the barn, but he says he's in a hurry and got to get back. He just leaves the team standin' there by the house and about ever' five minutes or so, jumps up and looks outta the window to see if them and the old sow in a crate on the sled are still there. He tells me, "Ya gotta be careful vith dis team cause der pinto sonofabitch and that unter vun too, now they'll go."

I'd mention that he was welcome to unhook and tie 'em in the barn, but he'd shake his head, sayin' again the pinto sonofabitch would go. "Shjust da utter day I vas clear to der utter end of da place to get a load of straw and comin' home it vas colder dan hell, so I tie up der lines and get off da back of the hayrack to valk a vays and varm up a liddle and der dam team goes slower and slower and slower und preddy soon I stick my head around the hayrack and yell, "Pinto, ya sunnavbitch", and shjsust like dat dey ver gone.

"I run and grab der back of der hay rack and was havin' a helluva time gettin' to der frvont of the sled cause der straw is vavin' back and forth, and I'm shust reachin' for der lines, ven over the sonofabitch goes. That is me and most a der straw goes and da damn team keeps runnin' faster. They vind up clear down to another far straw pile vere der hay rack has vorked back enough it tightens the lines some and dere dey shtop, und I gotta valk der whole vey down to get dem und load der straw again."

Well, when the Depression come on and was about the worst, Henry left Davis flat and swung a deal on a good piece of land out on the east end. Not long after he went down there, the Triple A come in and one of its main provisions was makin' up the price of wheat that had sold for less than 50 cents. Henry even got credit for a crop or two growed before he came on the place.

The bigger farmers all the sudden were sorta prosperous. Henry bought a new Packard automobile and when I seen 'im in town one day he was tellin' me he was makin' a trip to Washington D.C. and planned on seein', "Henry Vallace und pointin' out some of der mistakes he vas makin'." I seen him somewhere not long after he got back and asked him how he'd come out with the Secretary of Agriculture. Henry says he didn't get to see "Vallace" himself but he sees the woman that worked in his office. "I tell her und she said she'd tell him."

One of the last fracases I see Henry in was down in Fairfield. It's early in the spring and the streets and ever'thing else around Fairfield are just one big bog-hole. I'm drivin' down the main street past the elevators when I see Henry's Packard comin' north towards me.

Chick Dickensen had some bulk oil tanks on the east side of the street, and he'd had a truck stuck by the tanks and had borrowed a cat from somebody to get the truck out. They'd evidently got the truck loose cause the cat was parked on the side of the street, still idlin'. I could see Chick and another feller or two down there by the tanks, and I guess Henry could too as he come up the other side of the street.

Anyway, he's lookin' off somewhere and runs right smack-dab into the back end of the cat. There's quite a crash and noise, and I stop quick and run over to see if Henry's hurt. He's a little dazed but he was goin' slow enough that he's alright, but the front end of his car is pretty tore up. I ask 'im if he's all right and what he was doin.

"Vell goddamn it, I vas shust gettin' ready to vave to Chick."

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