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Farm Labor Project Story by Jess Scott age 16 in 1964. Written in 1964. 4-H club record book.
October 1963 - September 1964
WD 45 Allis Chalmers(pictured in 1962 with
Walter Scott. Disk is in foreground, left.
click photo to enlarge
My farm labor project began October 1, 1963 when I began keeping record of the work I do on my home farm. Due to school and my other projects, I found it hard to average more than an hour a day of farm labor. Most of the work I did had to do with Dad's dairy, such as feeding the cows and washing the milkers.
I did have a few free Saturdays though, and one particular one leaves its mark. Dad told me to grease a bunch of feeder pigs, I think there were about fifty. As you know when you 'grease" a hog, you put oil on it to kill the lice. Dad helped me get them pinned up, and , when it looked like I was doing all right, he left. Dad didn't say how much oil to put on them so I figured the more the better and really soaked those pigs. The next day, half of the pigs had a white scum over their eyes and couldn't see at all. I was really worried but luckily they all recovered. Dad said he didn't think about me doing such a "good" job of greasing the pigs and didn't put all the blame on me.
Other jobs that I did before school was out are: disking ground, riding a combine, pouring concrete, making a plant bed, repairing a disk, spreading fertilizer, vaccinating pigs, and plowing. None of these were more than one day jobs.
After school was out, there was plenty of work to do. The tobacco had to be set, the corn had to be plowed twice and I helped dad put up some new fence. Of course I had to help hoe the tobacco, harvest the oats, and take in the straw which I bailed. Then the tobacco had to be topped and a little hay got in, but most of the hay was held back by the drought and is yet to be cut. The past two weeks the big job I have been on is getting about six acres of land back into production after being cleared from woods by a bulldozer. All this time I helped milk twice a day and took care of the hogs. There were over a hundred at one time.
The only job I really disliked was picking up rocks and sticks after the bulldozer. It wasn't really hard work but it was so monotonous. See a rock, pick it up, toss it into the brush pile, or see a stick, pick it up, toss it into the brush pile. It was just like that hour after hour. Sometimes. after an hour or two, I would withdraw and think about something else, not being consciously aware of what my body was doing. I did my share of the work, though, and all of the ground was eventually ready to be disked.
Another job worthy of note was disking that ground after the brush was picked up. Although I enjoy the thrills as a memory they weren't very pleasant at the time. Let me explain. I don't know how steep that plot of ground was in degrees but I do know this. In places it was more than a WD Allis Chalmers, in good shape, could pull with a disk. I remember one situation I got into. I under estimated a slope and headed straight up the steepest part. All of a sudden I sensed the front wheels leaving the ground. In much less time than it takes to tell about it, I was filled with that burst of energy that one gets when something grabs him out of the dark, and I hit the clutch. I knew better than to push the clutch clear in and jam on the brakes. I pushed the clutch in just enough to where it would hold the tractor by slipping. Slowly and carefully I braked one of the wheels an pulled out crossways to the slope. That part took longer than it takes to tell about it, and at times I wondered if the tractor was going to make it. After I got straightened out I stopped, and it took a while to get back enough strength to go on. Next time I was careful to go down that part of the hill and not up.
The most important skills I have learned in the past eleven months are: mixing concrete, changing tires, operating a roto baler, and feeding a tobacco setter. I will now discuss them in detail.
Skills I have learned.
I had my first experience mixing concrete December 7. We were paving a basement floor and I had the job of shoveling the rock, lime, cement, and water into the mixer in the right proportion. The general rule was 6-2-4 for the rock, lime, and cement respectively. The water was a little different every time. The lime and rock were hauled on the same load and were partly mixed so the rule couldn't be followed exactly. If I got too much rock, I knew the concrete wouldn't hold together when cured. If I didn't get enough rock the concrete didn't mix well. Perhaps the toughest part was controlling the water. If the mixture had too much water it was soupy and couldn't be handled well on the receiving end. But if I didn't put enough water the mixture was stiff, and it didn't mix well. As little as a pint of water would make the difference between the concrete being stiff or soupy. I also learned that if I didn't put the rock in first, the lime would stick to the side of the mixer and really make a mess.
All this I learned December 7, and didn't get a further chance to use my new skill until August 6, when I mixed the concrete for the floor in our tool shed. I now say that I can turn a good batch of concrete out every time, and I will remember how for some time to come.
Changing Tractor Tires
I have made a a point this summer to help Dad every time there has been a flat tire. August 24, he got a new back tire for one of our tractors and I tried my hand at changing the tire alone. After making sure the tractor couldn't move, I placed the jack on a concrete block under the lift support, a very sturdy point on the old Case tractor, and took most of the weight off the tire. Then I loosened the six bolts that hold the outer rim onto the main part of the wheel, took the rest of the weight off the wheel and removed the outer rim. I let most of the air escape, leaving only enough for the tube to have a little shape, and laid the assembly on some planks. I pushed a tire tool between the rim and the bead and held it down while I stomped the bead down from the rim. Then I did the same for the other side. I turned the rim over to the side of the valve stem and pried the bead of the tire up over the edge of the rim with a tire tool, being careful not to pinch the tube. I removed the tube and pried the tire loose from the rim.
I put one side of the new tire on the rim and inserted the tube. I put the valve stem through its hole in the rim and attached the air pump. I then put the other side of the tire over the rim with a two pound hammer, being careful not to hit the rim. I filled the tire with air to sixteen pounds and attached it to the main part of the wheel with the six bolts, took the jack out and put the concrete block away.
Operating a Roto Baler
I have watched my father operate the roto hay baler for many years and for the past two years I have studied the baler manual. This year I got my first chance to do some baling. The operator of a roto baler has to know how the baler works and how to fix its minor ailments because there is always some little thing going wrong with it that keeps it from baling properly. At first I had trouble keeping up with everything. The operator has to stop while every bale is tied and dropped from the bale chamber. Then he has to make sure the catches have locked the bale chamber for the next bale. But soon I was baling without difficulty. Now I am working on my stop, start timing with the baler. The better I can stop and start in time with the baler the faster I can bale.
Feeding a Tobacco Setter
This year my father got a tobacco setter and it was my sister's and my job to ride it. I had seen a tobacco setter operated before, and it looked easy, but when I first started out, filling in the hills missed by the setter was a big job. Soon, though , were going on without any trouble.
|Oct 1-5||Dairy||6 1/4|
|Oct 6-12||Dairy & preparing ground||9 3/4|
|Oct 13-19||Dairy & harvesting seed||12 2/3|
|Nov 10-16||Dairy||7 1/4|
|Nov 17-23||Dairy||6 1/4|
|Nov 24-30||Dairy||4 1/2|
|Dec 1-7||Dairy & concrete||10 1/4|
|Dec 8-14||Dairy||7 1/4|
|Dec 15-21||Dairy||8 1/4|
|Dec 29-4||Dairy||1 1/2|
|Jan 5-11||Dairy||12 1/4|
|Jan 12-18||Dairy||20 1/2|
|Jan 19-25||Dairy||24 1/2|
|Jan 26-1||Dairy||12 3/4|
|Feb 2-8||Dairy||10 1/2|
|Feb 9-15||Dairy||4 3/4|
|Feb 16-22||Dairy||2 1/2|
|Feb 23-29||Dairy & orchard||9|
|Mar 1-7||Dairy||2 3/4|
|Mar 8-14||Dairy & machinery repair||5 1/4|
|Mar 15-21||Dairy & machinery repair||12|
|Mar 22-28||Dairy & machinery repair||5 1/4|
|Mar 29-4||Dairy & making plant bed||5 1/4|
|Apr 5-11||Dairy & plowing||12 1/4|
|Apr 19-25||Dairy & vaccinating pigs||6|
|Apr 26-2||Dairy & spreading fertilizer||8 3/4|
|May 3-9||Dairy & disking||22 1/4|
|May 17-23||Setting tobacco||12|
|May 24-30||Plowing & disking||19 1/2|
|May 31-6||Hoeing & fencing||39|
|Jun 14-20||Plowing corn||16|
|Jun 21-27||Dairy & hogs||5|
|Jul 5-11||Hogs & fencing||18|
|Jul 12-18||Straw & hoeing||32|
|Jul 19-25||Dairy & hogs||25 1/4|
|Jul 26-1||Hogs & concrete||24 3/4|
|Aug 2-8||Dairy & concrete||26|
|Aug 9-15||Hay & tobacco||9 1/4|
|Aug 16-22||Picking up brush & concrete||35 12|
|Aug 23-29||Disking & fencing||44|
|Aug 30-6||Filling silo||16 1/2|