16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Saturday, October 28, 1911: Had to pick corn all day and didn’t get anything done hardly that I wanted to get done. Besse was out today. Ahem.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Picking corn was hard work in the days before corn pickers and combines. I can see why Grandma was really happy that her married sister Besse came out to the farm to help. I bet they were exhausted by the end of the day.
Corn ears needed to be broken off the stalks one ear at a time and then thrown into a nearby wagon that was pulled by horses. A team of several people were needed to complete this process—one person to drive the horses, and one or more people to pick the corn.
According to the Farm Collector website, 80 bushels was about the maximum amount of corn one person could husk in a day–though the goal often was 100 bushels per person per day.
Click here to see an awesome video of people husking corn the old-fashioned way at the 2007 Nebraska State Hand Corn Huskers competition.