Life on a North Dakota farm at harvest time back in 1948

In today's "Neighbors" column, Bob Lind hears from a reader about threshing on some hot summer days.

Bob Lind
Bob Lind, Neighbors columnist. The Forum

As 2020 draws to a close, let’s take a look at a story about life on a North Dakota farm at harvest time back in 1948.

It was written by Arnold Jordheim, Walcott, N.D., for the magazine Hallingen, which is about people who came from Hallingdal valley in Norway. Arnold passed it on to “Neighbors”.

“I remember that in 1948,” Arnold wrote, “Pa had gone to the harvest labor pool in Fargo and hired a couple of college boys from Milwaukee who were looking for harvest work.

“The first day they hauled bundles was about 95 degrees with 90 percent humidity. So in the morning of the second day, Pa went to wake them up in the tent which they used, but they were gone. They had decided that the work was just too overwhelming for these city boys.

“So Pa said to me and my brother, Orland, that we would have to fill in as bundle haulers, even though we were just 12 and 13 years old. So for the next four years, we boys were bundle haulers, and we felt so grown up!


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“I remember how at 9 in the morning, Ma, or whomever lady whose place we were threshing at, would bring out lunch in a big dishpan covered with towels to keep off the flies. There were good sandwiches, cakes, doughnuts and, of course, hot coffee in a large white pot.

“Then at noon, we shut down the machine for an hour and got a wonderful meal in the home yard using tables set up in the shade of a big box elder tree.

“Ma set up a wash basin on an old apple crate box with a pail of water and some good old homemade lye soap for the men to use. We got good home canned beef or pork or freshly butchered chicken, with pie for dessert. We all had big appetites when working so hard! Then again at midafternoon, we had the white dishpan of goodies brought to us.
“The machine ran from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., so it was a long day, but the camaraderie was exhilarating!

“Those were good times when everybody worked together and got along with the smaller acreages by having a diverse mix of milk cows, pigs, sheep, beef cattle and chickens, and also a large garden for home canning.

“My wife, Gerda, also remembered some threshing days in post-World War II Germany, when she worked on farms there for room and board and not much else. The farms were tiny by our standards, and threshing was done with small machines which required cutting the twine on the bundles with a knife and then hand-feeding the bundle a bit at a time, because of the small capacity.

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“Community threshing days are ‘gone with the wind,’ as well as many former viable small towns with their schools and churches,” Arnold wrote, adding, “I remember that half a century ago, our


Walcott church had a weekly attendance of over 200, now there are only several dozen in attendance.

“It is hard for us old guys to see, but the good memories remain.”

They sure do. And “Neighbors” hopes to bring more of them to you in 2021, as you Forum readers send them in.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 701-241-5487 or email

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