By Amanda Fanger, Reporter and Farmer
A year ago, Kenny Anderson bought an old International Power Binder because he didn’t want the tradition of the Andersons harvesting grain by hand to go away. Anderson’s son and grandson, Bryan and Hayden Anderson, had never operated a vintage binder until this month when they and Kenny harvested a field of oats on the Anderson farm.
The Anderson family homesteaded in Lynn Township, Day County, in 1887. Hans and son Martin Anderson came to Day County and set up a farm north of Holmquist. Martin later had a son, Herman, who took over the farm. Kenny Anderson is Herman’s son.
All of those men had harvested grain with a binder, and Anderson was determined to see his son and grandson operate the machine as well.
“A big problem with this vintage equipment,” Anderson said, “with the price of iron, people are crushing it and selling it as scrap.”
He first saw the binder a year ago at the Waubay Frontier Days. Later he ran into the guy who owned it and bought it.
“I was thinking about the olden days, and about my son and grandson,” he said.
Since the machine was in running order when Anderson purchased it, he said he only did minor work on the binder.
On August 8, about a dozen friends and neighbors gathered at one of Anderson’s oat fields to watch the old-time machine work. Eventually, they also got in on shocking the bundles.
“For some of the younger people who were there, they’ve never seen something like that,”Anderson said. “It was interesting. It shows the younger people how long it used to take to harvest a field. It wasn’t like today where now thousands of acres are harvested in a matter of days.”
Typically today, oats would be harvested with a swather and later a combine.
Anderson’s plans are to pick up the bundles of oats from the field later by a team of horses and wagon. Then, sometime around the 10th or 15th of September, they’ll thrash the oats the old fashioned way. Anderson suspects they’ll have three teams of horses, his own as well as some friends’ and neighbors’.
Anderson says both his son and grandson are interested in this style of farming, in keeping the tradition alive.
If they weren’t, “I wouldn’t be doing this,” he said. “As long as they are interested, I’ll keep doing it. They can take over after I’m gone.”
Kenny says anyone will be welcome to come watch them thrash the oats in September.