Wheat threshing event brings a community together

Saturday, July 21, 2012 | 10:43 p.m. CDT; updated 11:16 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Woodlandville United Methodist Church hosted its second-annual wheat threshing event to show visitors farming techniques dating to the 1930s.

*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified straw, which is the hollow stalks of grain that remains after threshing.

COLUMBIA — The sun blazed down on the heads of men putting pitchforks of soft red wheat into the thresher. 

Members of the Woodlandville United Methodist Church in Rocheport held their second-annual wheat threshing, a community event showcasing old farming practices. The techniques exhibited dated to the 1930s.

Les Wegener grew up on a farm about a mile away from the church and still lives in the area. He farms wheat, soybeans and occasionally corn.

"I think it's important that (children) understand where the wheat came from and how it was formed," he said.

People of all ages gathered around the loud thresher that separated wheat grain from hay. The wheat went into the thresher, which cut the grain from the plant while the rest of the plant — essentially straw* — exits through a tube and forms a pile on the ground. The rest is then bound into bales.

In addition to threshing, Wegener described the many uses of wheat and the long process it has to go through to become flour. He displayed the different parts of the wheat grain, including the wheat seed that is ground up into flour when not used for feed. Children had the opportunity to use small machines to attempt to grind wheat and corn into a powder.

"We want to give the kids a sense of where we've come from and where we are today," said the Rev. Karen Alden, the church's pastor. "I'd like people to take away from this event the sense of community and working together." 

In addition to the thresher and antique tractors, visitors could participate in soap carving, outdoor cooking, yarn spinning, crocheting and wagon rides.

Pat Wobbe demonstrated how wool turns into yarn using a spindle. She has been crocheting for decades though has only spun yarn for a year, sometimes dyeing it to make scarfs, hats or other projects.

She used a modernized version of a spindle that originated sometime between the 1700s and 1800s.

"It's gotten a lot easier. The poor people on the prairies probably had it a lot harder."

Supervising editor is Jake Kreinberg.

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