The Ronald V. Jensen Living Historical Farm will hold its annual Steam Threshing Event July 29 through Aug. 8.
"Threshing in one of the farm's most popular events and attendance is always high," said farm worker and graduate student Sean Pitts. "The farm crew will use steam power to thresh grain the same way it would have been done in the early 1900's."In old Cache Valley, threshing was the most exciting event on the farm calendar, said Utah State University's Jay Anderson. Family and friends gathered to exchange labor; women prepared mountains of food and there was the magic of the steam engine. Young boys sat mesmerized by the blur of brightly colored machinery.
Today, steam engines are few and far between, said Pitts.
Some are to be found in displays but very few are in working order, he said. The Jensen Farm uses steam-powered machinery to recreate an old-time threshing event.
One unique aspect of the threshing event is that the Jensen Farm grows, harvests and threshes its own grain.
"There are several steam threshing bees in America but few, if any, thresh grain that was grown and harvested historically," Pitts said. "The Jensen Farm is the only place west of Iowa to put on a threshing event with this historical accuracy and on such a scale."
Last year workers at the farm threshed 11 tons of grain using steam power. This year they expect a yield of 16 tons. Workers are harvesting and threshing 10 acres of grain, mostly barley, Pitts said.
Threshing involves removing grain kernels from the stalks, Pitts said. In ancient times the task was completed by beating the grain heads with sticks called flails. Thanks to the industrial revolution, machinery was developed that did the work of many.
The Jensen Farm uses a 1923 Case Separator Machine. The power for the separator comes from a 60-horsepower Case steam engine, built in 1911.
"The engine is a giant machine that crawls at 3 mph but puts out enough power to turn the separator belts and shake the barley kernels from their stems at a rate of 60 to 125 bushels per hour," Pitts said. "Our Case engine was originally used to thresh grain in Cache Valley in the 1920's."
The farm acquired the engine from the L.K. Wood collection of farm implements. Wood, a native of Mendon, Cache County, held his own threshing demonstrations for years, Pitts said. After his death, the Jensen Farm continued the tradition.
After threshing, the grain is collected in an authentic Winona 100-bushel flaring tank grain wagon, Pitts said. The grained is hauled by horse to Trenton Feed in Logan. The 12-mile round trip takes several hours and can be viewed from U.S. 89.