Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Horsepower



Check this out. This is from a wonderful 1924 book called "A Popular History of American Invention" by Waldemar Kaempffert. This book has taken up permanent residence in the bathroom (TMI). Here's one of my favorite pictures in the book. It's from a chapter titled "FARMING BY MACHINE." The caption says:

"From 1841, when D. A. Church built what was probably the last of the early harvester-threshers, until about 1881, harvesting and threshing were regarded as separate and distinct operations. But when California became the greatest wheat-raising State, labor sufficient to harvest, haul, and thresh wheat in the old way could not be secured. Combined harvesters and threshers ("combines") were built. These were drawn by great teams of horses, as here shown. Gasoline-engines were used to supply the power for the machinery, the horses being used only for hauling. nowadays tractors take the place of horses."

4 comments :

Russ said...

Hi, I can't believe the number of animals in this picture. Remember the old television days with "Death Valley Days?" The famous "20 Mule Team" hauling wagons of Borax from Death Valley.

I find something with this picture very interesting. . .If you look at the two lead animals. . .The one in front looks like a smallish white horse and the one to it's left appears to me to be a larger Donkey. Regardless, neither look like the large herd behind them.

I'm wondering if these two animals were acting in the role of a "Judas Goat?" Or, "Goats" if you will. I know these are not "Goats," but I think the spirit of the term is also to describe an animal or thing that "Leads" other animals to do their bidding. It would make sense with a heard this large. More so if the heard is donkeys or Jackasses, notorious for their stubbornness to begin with.

Anybody out there with a farm background that can comment on this strange harnessing arrangement? There's got to be some logical reason other than the "Only White Horse Get To Walk In Front " so it doesn't find out it's the "Only White Horse" in the group. LOL

As Ever,

Russ

Dusty D said...

Russ, that is a fascinating comment and something that I totally missed. They do look odd out in front, don't they? Are those donkeys? I'd enlarge the photo further if I could but it was a pretty tiny one in the book.

I wish I had the farm knowledge to answer your question; I do not. But it's a fascinating question. I'm hoping, as you said, that someone with that knowledge can chime in.

Can you imagine the amount of work it took to harness up all of those animals for this harvest operation? Sheesh!

jml said...

Here's one in action.

Dusty D said...

WOW jml, that is so cool! Thank you for that link! Man, that is one impressive undertaking!

I also note there are other cool historical agricultural videos in the sidebar there...I know what I'll be doing during my lunch hour!

Thanks!