Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Threshing oats at the Rice County Steam & Gas Engine Show September 4, 2012

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Grayden Moorhouse of Randolph holds freshly-threshed oats.

GRAYDEN MOORHOUSE unfurls his palm, revealing some two dozen oat kernels before dropping several into my hand.

He wants me to try them, to separate the meat from the hull with my teeth and spit the shell onto the ground.

I try, without success, and then he hands me a single kernel already hulled.

All the while I am thinking this:

I shoveled plenty of oats in my day growing up on a dairy and crop farm. And why would I want to eat raw oats, which I associate with cattle feed?

But Grayden is one of those guys who seems convincing and I like the strong sound of his name and, heck, what’s life without trying something new occasionally?

So I eat the single oat kernel and that is enough for me. I’d rather eat my oats in oatmeal.

Now that I’ve ended that introductory narrative, let’s follow the path of how those oat kernels ended up in Grayden’s hand via this photo essay from the Rice County Steam and Gas Engine Show this past weekend in rural Dundas.

Shoveling the raw oats into the conveyor system.

An overview of the threshing equipment and process of separating the oats kernels from the stem.

Bill Becker of rural Northfield mans the Minneapolis Moline which powers the threshing operation.

More shoveling of oat bundles, a dusty, dirty job.

The dust flies as men and machine work.

Plenty of farmers and retired farmers watch, remembering…

While horses plow a nearby field (left), the threshing crew continues working.

And the straw pile grows.

Finally, meet Grayden Moorhouse, whose strong name, it seems to me, belongs in a western.

FYI: Please check back for more posts from the steam and gas engine show. You’ll meet one interesting character and an incredible teen, plus ride along with me on the back of a truck.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling