Category Archives: Corn Shelling

The John Deere Portable Farm Elevator (Series 2)

The John Deere Model 300 (Series 2) Portable Farm Elevator

by

Brian Wayne Wells

           This article remains under construction.  Periodically, new blocks of text will appear in the article and/or  current blocks of text will be corrected. 

   Deere and Company of East Moline, Illinois, had been making portable elevators for use on the average family farm since     .  One of the early versions of the John Deere portable farm elevators was the Model 5-C elevator.

The Model 5-C John Deere portable farm elevator.

The Model 5-C was often accompanied with the wagon lift which was designed to make unloading of the wagon of grain or ear corn much easier.

The John Deere Model 5-C farm elevator.

 

The elevator was positioned along side corn crib or the granary where the corn or grain was intended to be stored on the average family farm.  Once in operation the elevator and wagon lift would greatly speed the operation of unloading of wagons and the storing the wagon loads of corn or grain during the busy harvest season.

 

This advertisement of the John Deere Model 5-C elevator positioned up against the corn crib on a family farm. Ear corn is being unloaded from a wagon into the hopper of the galvanized all-metal portable elevator. Because of its strong “trussed frame,” this piece of sales literature brags that the “elevator never sags.”

 

The Model 5-C elevator was made largely from galvanized sheet metal.  Galvanized metal resisted rust far better than exposed unpainted sheet metal–lasting decades longer that exposed sheet metal.  Originally, the elevator was powered by its own stationary hit and miss engine.  Later, after the advent of tractors as a common power source on family farms, the John Deere elevator was fitted with power take-off shaft which allowed modern tractors to power the Model 5-C elevator.

A professional drawing of the power take-off shield on the John Deere Model 5-C galvanized farm elevator. The artist creating this drawing has attempted to recreate the visible effects of “spangling” on the sheet metal PTO shield which are the results of the galvanizing process.

 

However, during the Second World War, wartime restrictions imposed on the manufacturing industry directed that all galvanizing would, for the duration of the war, be used only for the military effort and galvanizing for civilian use would be prohibited.  Accordingly, John Deere elevators began to be made out of regular sheet metal which was painted “John Deere green” for protection from rust.  Following the war, a new John Deere  elevator was introduced in 1946.  This was the new improved “Model 300” portable farm elevator.  The Model 300 rode on just two wheels rather than four wheels.  The wheels were located new the center of balance on the elevator.  Thus, even with the hopper attached to the bottom end of the elevator, the a single person might be able to pick up the bottom end of the Model 300 and attach the elevator to the drawbar of a tractor.

This center section of a 1946 piece of sales literature shows the Model 300 John Deere elevator carefully positioned against the corn crib on a family farm. Because this is a 1946 piece of literature, we know that the elevator advertised here is the older and  narrower “Series 1” John Deere elevator.  As noted below, the Series 1 John Deere elevator was replaced in 1953 by the Series 2 elevator.   With the top end of the elevator directly over the proper hold in the roof, the spout of the Model 300 has already been lowered into hole. Inside, out of sight of the camera, the extension chutes have already been attached the spout have been attached to the spout which will direct the ear corn to the proper area of the corn crib.

Continue reading The John Deere Portable Farm Elevator (Series 2)

The Corn Crib on the Grounds of LeSueur County Pioneer Power Association

The Corn Crib on the Grounds of the LeSueur Pioneer Power Association 

by

Brian Wayne Wells

           This article remains under construction.  Periodically, new blocks of text will appear in the article and/or   current blocks of text will be corrected.

Starting in          the annual show of the LeSueur County Pioneer Power Association began to demonstrate the farming chore of shelling ear corn.  This chore was an annual wintertime event on the diversified farms located in the row-crop farming areas of the Midwestern United States in the era prior to the emergence of corn combines on diversified farms.

The corn shelling demonstration at the Pioneer Power Show was initiated by Bill Radil, a member of the LeSueur County Pioneer Power Association, who was residing at the time in West Concord, Minnesota, when Bill purchased a Minneapolis-Moline Model D corn sheller.

Although this is not the Bill Radil Model D Minneapolis Moline corn sheller, it is mounted on a two-wheel cart and is powered by a tractor power take-off drive, just like the Bill Radil Model D. Note the very short corn husk blower tube: This is a very quickly observed and distinctive feature that distinguishes the Model D from the Model E corn sheller.

  Weighing 1,660 lbs. and with the capacity of shelling 175 to 300 bushels of ear corn per hour, the Model D was the smaller model of the two main corn sheller models manufactured by the Minneapolis-Moline Company headquartered in Hopkins, Minnesota.  The larger model corn sheller produced by Minneapolis-Moline was the Model E, which was later improved and re-modeled as  the Model EE.

The Minneapolis-Moline Model E pictured here is easily destinguishable from the Model D shown above because of the much longer corn husk blower tube on the Model E.

The Bill Radil Model D brought the annual winter-time chore of corn shelling on the typical family-owned midwestern farm to the viewing public at the annual Pioneer Power Association Show held on the last full weekend in August.

However, the demonstration of corn shelling with a Model D corn sheller, complete with its “drag line”  could be most accurately presented to the public as an authentic shelling field demonstration only by shelling corn out of a traditional corn crib rather than as a shelling of ear corn dumped from a wagon into the drag line of the corn sheller.

Consequently, Bill Radil found a small “single corn crib” on the farm of a neighbor, Bruce Freerkson in the same  West Concord neighborhood in which Bill lived.  Bruce and his wife had lived on their farm since about 1996.  Before them the farm had belonged to the Albert and Golda (Ebeling) Arndt family.  Albert and Golda had moved onto the farm shortly after their wedding in 1935.  Although the little single corn crib on the farm was still in use and was filled in the autumn with ear corn that had been picked in the field, the corn crib was probably build at a generation earlier.  A 1905 Plat book of Dodge County, Minnesota shows that the family of George W. Tabbett owned the farm.  During the early 1900s, the corn on the average family farm in the midwestern United States ripe corn was cut in the autumn and placed in shocks in the field.

Traditionally, corn harvested in the fall of the year, had a moisture content of 22-25%.  However, at the time of harvest, the moisture content of the corn could be as high as 28-32%.   In order to dry the corn down to the ideal 18% moisture content for shelling the corn had to be exposed to the cold  winter air.  This could be done by placing the corn in shocks in the corn  field.  However, all of the corn would eventually have to be hand “shucked” (the removal of the ears of corn from the stalk and the husks.)   This was a labor intensive operation that would employ all the members of the family during large portions of the winter.  The horses would be hitched up to the wagon or sled and taken to the corn field in the cold winter months to pick up another load of corn shocks to be hand shucking by the family.

The Larson wagon owned by Howard and Fred Hanks being employed on the Bagan farm in rural Beaver Township, Fillmore County near LeRoy, Minnesota. Here the wheeled wagon gear has been replaced with a horse drawn sled to perform the wintertime activity of going to the corn field to pick up the shocks of corn which would then be husked by hand and used as feed for the cattle and pigs on the farm. .

During these trips to the corn field to pickup corn shocks for hand shucking, the farmer would carry along a hatchet.  In the heart of winter in Minnesota, the ground froze very hard.  The hatchet was for chopping loose the bottoms of the corn shocks so that the corn could be loaded on the wagon or sleigh.  This chopping of the bottom of the corn shocks was another  tedious part of the back breaking  job of collecting the corn shocks in the field.

Amish farm with field of harvested corn in “shocks” for storage against the winter weather,  The shocks of corn from the stubble ground on the right side of the picture has already been removed from the field and has been taken to the building site to be “shucked.”  The ears of this corn has probably already been stored in a small corn crib on the farm to finish drying down to ha

In order to avoid the inconveniences of working in the cold and on the frozen ground of the corn field, the farmer would work hard earlier in the fall to get as  much of the corn would be “shucked” as possible.  Because this corn was shucked before it had a chance to completely dry in the field, the ears of corn would be stored in a small single corn crib.  The by-product of the hand shucking process (the stalks and husks of the corn) would be fed to the cattle and/or pigs on the farm.

A “single corn crib” like the small Arndt/Freerkson corn crib that was first brought to the Pioneer Power Showgrounds by Bill Radil.

Like typical single corn cribs across the midwestern United States, Arndt/Freerkson single corn crib was no wider than eight (8) feet wide to allow the dry winter air to easily pass through the ear corn stored in the crib.  This cold and dry winter air passing through the corn crib would finish drying the ear corn to 18% moisture content.

However, a couple of years after the Arndt/Freerkson corn crib had been brought to the Pioneer Power grounds, the storms of the winter and spring of 2009-2010 destroyed the small single Arndt/Freerkson corn crib when it was blown off its rock foundation.

Bill Radil working to shell the corn out of the actual Arndt/Freerkson single corn crib which was the original and first corn crib brought to the grounds of the LeSueur Pioneer Power Association to become a part of the corn shelling field demonstration. This picture was taken during one of the early years of the corn shelling field demonstrations held at the annual Pioneer Power Show before the Arndt/Freerkson single corn crib was destroyed by a strong wind blowing the crib off of its rock foundation.  In the background, Bill Radil’s Model D Minneapolis-Moline corn sheller can be seen, doing the shelling job.  The very short corn husk blower tube of the Model D can easily be seen from this angle as the Arndt/Freerkson corn crib is shelled out.   It is the very short length of the husk blower tube that makes the Model D easily distinguishable from the larger Model E Minneapolis-Moline corn sheller.

 

After a couple of years without a corn crib at all at the annual Show, the Pioneer Power Association obtained another corn crib.  This time a “double corn crib” was purchased from  the Richard Dorzinski family living on a Sharon Township farm located on the south side of Minnesota Highway #26 about a mile east of the site of the LeSueur County Pioneer Power Showgrounds.   Owned at the time by Richard Francis Dorzinski, the farm had been in the Dorzinski family since Richard’s father, Albert Frank Dozinski, obtained the farm shortly before he was married in 1920.  Indeed, Albert Dorzinski may well have built the double corn crib in the 1920s.    The double corn crib  consists of  two eight (8) foot single corn cribs placed about eleven (11) feet apart and both the cribs and the space in between the cribs were covered by the same gambrel roof.

Albert Frank Dorzinski married Ida Veronica Retka on September 28, 1920. Their marriage took place in St. Joseph’s Church which was located in the small settlement of Lexington, Minnesota in LeSueur County. This church was moved to the grounds of the LeSueur County Pioneer Power Association in the summer of 2012.  Indeed, the Dozinski double corn crib was moved to the Pioneer Power grounds on the same day as the St. Joseph’s Church, so that the power lines and telephone lines would only be cut once for both buildings.

 Enlargement of the corn crib on the average family farm in the Midwestern United States of America, became much more common in the 1920s because of the development of the mechanical corn picker.  Mechanical picking of corn left the corn stalks in the field rather than taking them to the building site.  Suddenly, the corn picker made it possible to complete the corn harvest  in the Midwestern United States before the snows fell in the winter.

Following the purchase of Dorzinski double corn crib by the Pioneer Power Association, the building was moved from the Dorzinski farm to the grounds of the LeSueur Pioneer Power Association.  There the double corn crib was given a new cement block pillar foundation to house the new double corn crib, brought to the Pioneer Power Showgrounds, was secured to the foundation by anchor bolds.  The Association was taking no chances that this new double corn crib would not be blown off its foundation.  Then, a cement floor was laid in the alleyway of the corn crib.

Here a double corn crib with a large alleyway between the cribs is moved to a new location and just like the Dorzinski  double corn crib on the LeSueur Pioneer Power Showgrounds, this double corn crib is being fitted on a new cement block foundation and a cement floor in the alleyway in the middle of the double crib.

This is the corn crib that continues to be used on the Pioneer Power Showgrounds through the present day.  In the late autumn of each year, Dave Preuhs, founder of the LeSueur Pioneer Power Association fills the corn crib with ear corn that he grows on his own farm.  This corn is planted by a six-row corn planter that is not ordinarily used for the regular corn planting on the Preuhs farm.  The wide rows of corn planted by the six-row planter allow Dave Preuhs to pick the corn to be stored in the Dorzinski  corn crib with a 1974 New Idea Company corn picker fitted with a 3-row corn head made for picking 38 inch rows.

The New Idea 3-row Super Picker

Once in the Dorzinski corn crib the corn crop dries out during the cold Minnesota winters on the Pioneer Power grounds.   During the cold Minnesota winters, the cold dry air of winter passing through the wood slats of the Dorzinski corn crib will dry the ear corn down to at least 18% moisture content and will be ready for shelling.

The drying process in the corn crib begins as soon as the ear corn in placed in the shed.  That sweet smell of field corn which permeates the air around the newly filled Dorzinski double corn crib in the early autumn is the process of the corn starting to give up its moisture content.

The very efficient husking bed that made the New Idea pull-type corn pickers very popular with the farming public.

To aid in this process of drying, the efficient Model 737 husking bed of the pull-type corn picker owned by Dave Preuhs reduces the amount of “foreign matter” (husks and stalks) to less than 4% of the ear corn stored in the Dorzinski double corn crib.

Introduced in 1927 the New Idea Model 6A  cornpicker became another very popular farm machine with the farming public because of its reputation for being  known as one of the most efficient clean husking corn pickers manufactured in the United States of America.

Like the  alleyways in double corn cribs on diversified farms all across the Midwest, (especially when provided with a cement floor) invites storage of vehicles and farm machinery on the average family farm.  Accordingly, the alleyway of the Dorzinski double corn crib has become the winter storage place of the Bill Radil’s 1939 F-20 and the Wells family’s David Bradley large 126-bushel flare box mounted on a five-ton David Bradley wagon gear.  This 1942 wartime Allis-Chalmers  tractor and the David Bradley wagon are often used as a part of the corn shelling field demonstration at the annual Pioneer Power Show.  (The above-mentioned David Bradley wagon gear and 126 bushel wagon box are taken up as the subject of an article contained at this website called “History of the David Bradley Company (Part II): Tractors and Wagons.”

However, there are some vehicles that should not be stored in the alleyway of the corn crib.  As noted above, at picking time, the corn may have a moisture content as high as 32%.  Accordingly, when the freshly picked corn is first stored in the corn crib will be very fragrant as the moisture in the ears of corn is leaving the corn and escaping into the cool air of the autumn.  If, for instance the family car or the modern farm truck is parked in the alleyway of a freshly filled corn crib, the sweet smell of the corn will permeate the padding of the upholstery of the car or truck.  So strong in the fragrance of corn that the fragrance will remain with the car or truck for many years after.

A row of single corn cribs built to allow the dry winter winds to blow through the ear corn to dry the corn down to about 18-15% moisture content.  This 1935 photograph taken on the Frank Hubert farm near Saybrook, Illinois (near Bloomington-Normal ) shows a corn crib built using pole barn framing and wire mesh. (McLean County Museum of History)

Luckily, as the winter weather sets in,  the ear corn would become less and less fragrant until the moisture content of the corn is only 18-15%.  At this stage there is only a “dry smell” in the corn crib.  At this point the fragrance was largely gone and the family car and/or truck may once again be safely stored in the alleyway of the corn crib.

A typical double corn crib with an alley way in the middle.

The typical corn crib should be no wider than eight (8) feet wide to allow the dry winter air to easily pass through the ear corn stored in the crib.  However most times, two single cribs were built close to each other and connected with a common gambrel roof.  Thus, the crib became known as a “double corn crib.”

After having shelled out most of the corn each year, diversified farmers would save back enough ear corn to grind and feed to cows, pigs and chickens on the farm. However, by late summer and fall of the year, the amount of ear corn left in the corn crib can decrease significantly. In October of the year the ear corn harvest usually begins again.

As noted above, a double corn crib contains an alleyway between the two single corn cribs, which are joined by a gambrel roof to become a single building.  The space above the alleyway might be finished out into grain bins which would store oats until they sold or fed to animals on the diversified farm or for storing soybeans until they were marketed at a nearby grain elevator.

The corn in the Dorzinski corn crib is not shelled out in the late winter or early spring as is the usual practice on diversified family farms all across the Midwestern United States.  Rather the corn in the double corn crib continues to be stored until the annual show of the LeSueur County Pioneer Power Association held on the last full weekend in August each year.

 

Bill Radil’s Minneapolis-Moline Model D corn sheller works on the corn stored in the new Dozinski double corn crib on the grounds of the LeSueur County Pioneer Power Association at a recent annual show. Bill Radil can be seen standing on top of the freshly shelled corn in the truck on the right side of the picture.  The Dorzinski double corn crib replaced the Arndt/Freerkson single corn crib when a strong wind blew the single crib off its stone foundation.  As seen in this picture, the new double crib has a cement foundation and a roof covering the entire structure resulting in an alleyway in the middle of the double corn crib.  Note from the picture that the alleyway has a cement floor and is, thus, a good place to store farm equipment out of the rain and snow in the winter time.  In the background of the upper middle of the picture is the green David Bradley 126 bushel wagon flare-box mounted on a red David Bradley 5-ton wagon gear with lime green wheels.  As noted in this article this David Bradley wagon is often stored in the alleyway of the double corn crib on the Pioneer Power Showgrounds in the off season.