The Warren County Historical Society Logo newly adopted January 2015. Copyright January 16, 2015
Warren County Historical Society Presents …
The Digital Version * * * “REWIND”
Autumn On Mid-1950s Farm in Queensbury
March 16, 2015
The first in a series of 1950s farm life vignettes.
My memories of growing up on a Queensbury farm began about mid-June 1950 when my brother Bruce was born on Father’s day that year.
Just a few days after his birth we received our first small black-and-white Television (TV). During the evening news on WRGB channel 4 (in that era), we would hear about the UN Troops and the ‘Reds’ fighting in Korea.
A Bundle Corn Harvester.
A typical corn harvester that cut and tied the corn into bundles; the bundles were akin to the ‘shocks’ created when the corn was cut by hand using the ‘corn knife’. The harvester pictured is nearly identical to what was used by my father until about 1959. The large left wheel drove the mechanism that gathered the corn from the row, cut it at a short distance above the soil then tied it into bundles that were expelled from the rear to the left side so the tractor and harvester could cut the next row without running over previously cut bundles! The lever to the left both adjusted the cutting height and place the mechanism in gear of free wheeling for driving to or from the field.
The Autumn of 1950 I first drove a tractor while my father and the hired-hand picked up the corn bundles with the wagon. At the end of the field I would shut off the tractor; an adult would get on, get started down the next row and I would again steer the length of the field. Corn harvesting was always my favorite farm season of the year. The work required cutting the corn into bundles with harvester; hauling it to the silo and then getting it chopped and blown into the upright wooden silo with our Papec R-10 silo chopper. The chopper was often powered by our old McCormick Deering 10-20 iron-lug wheel tractor because it had a large diameter belt pulley that worked very well with the Papec silo chopper.
Bundles of corn on horse-drawn wagon.
The corn was picked up on a hay wagon that resembles the above interesting horse drawn wagon. The butt end of the stalk all faced tone side, the corn tassels to the other. My dad preferred putting the butt end into the silo chopper first; others preferred the tassel end.
Now at the silo …
Papec R-10 Silo Chopper.
The Papec silo chopper would be attached to a filler pipe at the silo. The pulley seen at the rear center would be driven by a belt from our 10-20 tractor. This chopper had to run in a clockwise rotation as viewed while facing the pulley. This meant that the long belt would have a twist in it to change the direction of the tractor’s pulley-rotation. The belt was one piece 8 inches in width that was made one piece by means of “alligator-jaw” clips that meshed together, retained by a long pin through the two sets of clips. The trough and conveyor chain in front that would feed the corn to the feed-roller, the device at the rear of the feed trough by the rounded duct around the chopper blades and blower paddles. Notice the square air slots behind the belt pulley in the side of the blower. Large volume of incoming air was necessary because the paddle wheel blew the silage up the pipe with air, discharging through an arced hood down into the silo. OUCH! Sometimes the pieces of corn cob would hurt when they hit your body or head upon discharge from the hood!
Another view of the Papec Silo Chopper.
Note the draw hitch to move the chopper; also the trough-feed roller engagement clutch at the right rear just below the top of the discharge tube. This was driven by gears attached to a shaft drive that had universal joints to allow the feed roller to rise-and-fall, pushed up by the fodder and pulled down by springs. The control had positive notch locking for the various positions. The machine required regular oiling and greasing. Unusual for the day, but note some safety shields around the drive gears. Inside the blower housing surrounding the paddle-wheel there were six removable knives, one just towards the axis of the paddle wheel below each paddle. These would be carefully removed (by disconnecting tractor belt and placing a crowbar through a slot ion the paddle wheel across the fame to keep the wheel from moving while removing and installing the blade. Each blade was sharpened on a whetstone wheel, then returned to use. The blades were attached with high strength flat-head cap screws that were attached or removed with a ½ inch hex (Allen) socket head. From about age eight, the daily sharpening was one of my tasks!
Above is a iron wheel tractor of the same make to the one we had in the 1950s!
Pictured below: A very similar usage to what our family farm had in the 1950s.
Typical 1950s Silo Chopper Use.
Once the load of corn was chopped and blown into the silo one or two people would use the 10 tine silage fork to level the freshly chopper ensilage; during and after each load the corn would be tamped down by stomping. We tried to chop a few loads every day to keep the older silage from spoiling during the curing or fermentation process that literally cooked the ensilage within the silo. The result was nutritious feed for the dairy cows.
A ten tine silage fork:
A short video of the 10-20 and a Papec silo chopper in use: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-8e0I22hqE
© March 16 2015, Warren County Historical Society
This article was prepared by Gary Evans, Executive Director for the Warren County Historical Society. Mr. Evans grew up on the family farm during the 1950s and early 1960s. Rockwell Road is near Lake Sunnyside in Queensbury. All photos, unless otherwise noted, are from internet sources.