Machinery Used to Plant Wheat on Small Farms a Hundred Years Ago

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday,  September 19, 1913:  

September 16 – 17 – 18 – 19:  Nothing much of importance happened during these days. I have to help Pa some and get put at rolling for one thing. Of course I had my mishaps even to going off of the roller. That work is all done by this time.

The Book of Wheat (1908) by Peter Tracy Dondlinger

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

This was the third of four days where Grandma wrote a single diary entry. Two days ago I described how Grandma rolled the fields in preparation for planting fall wheat. And, yesterday I shared pictures that showed the huge “modern” equipment used to harvest wheat on immense farms in the Midwest a hundred years ago.

The machinery used to plant and harvest wheat was very different on small farms in Pennsylvania like the one Grandma lived on.  Today I’m sharing several additional pictures from the same book—but this group of pictures shows how wheat was raised on small farms a hundred years ago.



14 thoughts on “Machinery Used to Plant Wheat on Small Farms a Hundred Years Ago

  1. How I love all those beautiful photos! I grew up in a rural setting and spent may holidays on farms. On of them still used horse drawn farm equipments. Quite a tourist attraction but fun memories;0) And than to think there are computerized harvesters now that do all the work by themselves! Grandma would have been interested in those, I am sure!

  2. I have actually helped Daddy with both of those machines planting and harvesting oats in Wisconsin during the 1940s. I especially enjoyed working on the binder, cutting and harvesting the oats. As the tall oats were swept into the cutters by the rotating bars, the person seated lifts a lever whenever the pile of cut oats reaches a certain size and it it dumped off into a pile ready to be “shocked” – meaning stood up in a special way to be dried before hauling to the barn.

      1. I’d never heard of it either–an old old-timer told me about it when I lived in the mountains there. It was definitely easier, instead of creating of those huge snow banks (that cities now have to shovel up and truck out of town), they did the opposite. They compacted it, with the additional benefit that kids who lived uphill could slide all the way to school.

  3. What an interesting blog. I spent a winter transcribing (one) my Great-grandmother’s diary. She grew up on a farm and married a farmer in Rushford NY.. I found it so interesting and I hope to work more on it. It started me on my family history and I am forever looking up stuff as I now a person to place in certain time periods..Michelle

    1. It is fun to do research when you are trying to get a better understanding of the life of a person! I’ve really liked working on my grandmother’s diary, and enjoy looking things up that the diary makes me think about.

  4. I keep thinking about the earlier question, “When the wind blows over the wheat stubble, can autumn be far behind?” as we walk and drive past the wheat fields here in Idaho. We never did find that quote, did we.

    1. No, we never did find that quote. I’m amazed that you still remember that post. The quote has also always stuck with me and I think of it when I see wheat fields..

  5. Harvesting wheat in the past must been different from todays. Currently, there are many tools that can harvest in a single round field. However, we all must thank to those who inspire people, who live now, which make harvesting machines so harvesting wheat becomes easier and faster.

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