By Orv Alveshere 


Some threshers might have been to the point of sleepwalk
As teams of horses pulled hayracks from shock to shock.
They brought their 3-tined forks from home and their muscle
For four full weeks of continuous hustle.
Horses willing to work for water, oats and hay
Humans working for some welcome, but hard-earned pay.
A time when steam power was the principle force
That harvested ripe grain, along with many a horse.

Twenty-five cents per day for pitcher, team and wagon;
Twelve hours later everyone’s tails were draggin’.
A suptuous harvest feast, thoughtfully prepared,
Lunches and 3 square meals got their hunger repaired.
Gallons of lemonade and coffee were imbibed.
The square footage of the tables could not be described
Unless you’d call that lucious meal a ‘seven course’
despite sitting next to guys who smelled like a horse.

The cooks had stirred and baked and boiled and stewed and brewed
To set an indescribable table of food.
After seconds of drumsticks, steaks, desserts and pies;
Sweat, dust and the ‘sandman’ caused rubbing of their eyes.
The crew disbanded, leaving a tall stack of dishes
With shuteye number one on their list of wishes.
One dipped his head in wash tubs (no showers, of course);
He realized…it was him…that smelled like the horse.

The upstairs of the cattle barn was a swelter!
It stayed hot all night long, but it was a shelter.
Laying on top of tons of hay, meant for the cow
Was a chorus of snorers, up in the hay mow.
They were far too exhausted to count any sheep.
They perspired, but welcomed  the relief of deep sleep.
The sun-up and the wake-up brought extreme remorse
For it was time to put the feedbags on the horse.

They had pitched wheat bundles as high as they could reach;
Blisters and aches were so real…not…’figures of speech’!
Although sunburned, they welcomed the the orange setting sun
As their stressed bundle pitching day was finally done.
Relaxing a few minutes, ‘though ever so brief,
Driving the team and bundle rack was a relief;
Eyeing clouds and sky, a primitive weather source,
Pardon the expression, they’re tired as a horse.

The steam engine was set with it’s back to the wind.
Spike Feeder Pitchers were steady and disciplined,
Spacing all the rising grain bundles like clockwork,
Keeping the bundle feeder full…they must not shirk.
The whirling cylinders ‘ate’ the bundles and twine
While another load awaited, powered by equine.
Watching others pitch, perhaps like spectator sports.
Back to load more bundle loads, powered by the horse.

The breeze blew the light chaff…although only a speck
Into pockets, eyelids, hair, mouth and down one’s neck.
The tired bundle haulers came from the farthest end
To turn grain loads over to spike pitchers to tend.
Penpals, addresses,jokes, and stories were passed on
Friendship and meals were recalled long after they’ve gone.
Tales retold to posterity, of the work force.
Mem’ries stay or fade, but give credit to the horse.

   Kansas City, KS, Seniors Writing Contest Winner
   Published in THE BEST TIMES
           by Orv Alveshere, Fargo, ND 58103
               (c) Copyright 2000, All Rights Reserved