The Last Eighty Years
As time as seen by mortal man,
I now have lived a lengthy span,
My years have rolled around quite fast,
And I can now review the past.
I’ve lived in a progressive age,
The world has turned a monstrous page,
Inventions and discoveries,- - - -,
No other age has been like this.
The farmer in my youthful day,
Led out by hand his grain and hay,
A drapper than began to reap,
Which saved man’s labor quite a heap.
By taking off the drapper part,
For outting grass’ taws set to start,
He raked it with a one horse rake,
It took not long his hay to rake.
The grain was then all bound by hand,
With straw he quickly made a band,
It took the grain from off the ground,
And with straw bands the bundles bound.
The farmer pitched by hand his hay,
Till loaders brought a better way,
And horses did the work for man,
And man at once approved the plan.
His horses had to work and toil,
The horses had to till the soil,
For plows and drags had long been used,
And in my time were much improved.
The grain be to the barn would haul,
And thresh it there in early fall,
Horse power then turned the machine,
His grain was then put in the bin.
Three to five men, would stack the straw,
Such work you likely never saw,
Then oft the straw inside was packed,
In dust and dirt where fresh air lacked.
Harpoons were used to unload hay,
Until they found a better way,
So horses did the work of man,
And farmers liked this better plan.
But early years soon rolled around,
And many more improvements found,
The two horses team replaced by four,
And sometimes also several more.
Self-binders came while I was young,
And none to the old way had clung,
Steam power then the horse replaced,
And things were done in greater haste.
When threshing grain, the sheaves were thrown,
On the machine, which all alone,
Put up the straw into a stack,
And puts the grain in bin or sack.
We used to scatter dung by hand,
Till spreaders put it on the land,
Then silos came upon the scene,
Which keeps the food so nice and green.
In furniture and furnishings,
In stove and many other things,
Our people bought and used the best,
That for the purpose stood the test.
Steam engines wore by horses drawn,
On some it then begin to dawn,
That engines should themselves propel,
They did,- - and pulled machines as well.
These things all came in my own time,
As here related in my rhyme,
Our people all were never late,
In buying what was up to date.
To all these things were used by us,
And no one ever raised a fuss,
When farmers bought the latest tools,
To bar their use there were no rules.
These came in forty years or so,
And were there forty years ago,
Machines were made and sold for use,
Our people bought just what they’d choose.
But since then were inventions made,
Improvements for the farmer trade,
We see them used on every hand
All up and down throughout the land.
Machines and tools of every kind
The farmer now on sale will find,
He finds by using tools like these
His horse from work they do release.
Self-binders now are out of date
Steam engines now no more are made,
They soon will only antiques be,
And folks will pay for them to see.
Combined machines the work now do
Of cutting grain, and threshing too,
These tools are all by tractors run
So all this work is quickly done.
So binders now, and threshing machines
Are classified with the “have beens,”
In fields the farmer bales his hay,
With little work this modern way.
The bales on trucks, from baler pushed,
And to the barn are quickly rushed,
And elevated to the mow,
It’s done with little labor now.
A tractor hitched on to a plow
Will turn the soil much faster now,
What used to take many a day
In short work now, the modern way.
So farm work now is quickly done
By tractor all machines are run,
The silage in the field is cut
With power, it’s in the silo put.
These modern tools and modern ways
Have come about in my own days,
In these last forty years or so
They changed the way to reap and sow.
Inventions of the widest range
That brought to farms the greatest change,
Were made in my first forty years,
And we were never in arrears.
To binder form hand cradling grain,
Was in itself a noted gain.
Much hand work was then changed to team
And then the horse replaced by steam
In every change we followed on,
With these machines the work was done,
And anything that then came out
Was by our leadership allowed.
In these last forty years or so
Old leaders all have had to go,
And since these leaders left the scene
Conditions are not as they have been.
Confusion found in these last days
Because we left our fathers ways,
We practice not as they had led
And that’s why such confusion spread.
We old ones, who do still remain
Are looked upon with some disdain,
Old doctrines now are little used
And factions now are much confused.
Instead of peace and unity,
There now is strife and jealousy,
Our father’s ways are now not used
And thus we see the church confused
The point that I wish to make here
Is to make it so very clear,
That up to forty years ago
No one ruled how to reap and sow.
When under our old bishops rules
We used all implements and tools
The latest stoves and furnishings,
And furniture and other things.
There was no rule against their use
We all would buy just what we’d choose.
These all were here in unity
Within the church and ministry.
But since then there are many who
Would tell the rest just what to do,
What not to buy, and what to use
And so the brotherhood confuse.
All farming now is done as then
We plow and plant and reap as when
There was no other way to do,
The church then ruled, not just a few.
Thus peace has been a bit disturbed
By using power thus usurped,
The few who hold to farmer plan
Are nearly put under the ban.
By Eli J. Bontreger
(in my 87th year.) (1954)