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The way harvesting used to be

Ryan Kahly of Moorhead, left, and Mark Germstad of Sabin, Minn., load wheat on a threshing machine at the Matt Folstad farm west of West Fargo. David Samson/The Forum1 / 2
Matt Folstad runs a 1923 Minneapolis 17-30 tractor while threshing wheat on his farm west of West Fargo. David Samson/The Forum2 / 2

Matt Folstad has been an avid tractor collector for quite some time.

About five years ago he expanded this horizon, adding a Keck Gonnerman threshing machine to his collection, acquiring the Mt. Vernon, Indiana-built piece of equipment from a gentleman at Rosholt, S.D.

Folstad said his intention was to do whatever work was necessary to get the threshing machine up and running, for the purpose of performing the farming task it was originally intended to do.

Toward that end, he rounded out his 'threshing' package last year by acquiring a binder, the piece of old-time farm equipment that bundles the grain as a precursor to the actual threshing process.

With both the threshing machine and binder now operational, Folstad decided to put them to the test recently, the binder a week or so ago as it bundled grain in advance of the 'mini threshing bee' held Saturday on Folstad's small farmstead located on the south side of the I-94 Raymond exit.

Folstad, assisted by friends and neighbors from the local area with an interest in old tractors and the preservation of farming practices from previous times, gathered to harvest approximately two acres of wheat, utilizing several smaller tractors and Folstad's old-time threshing machine. Folstad mentioned specifically the assistance of neighbors Chuck Thompson, Roger Berenthsen and Dean Kraft along with the use of a 17-30 Minneapolis tractor Folstad had restored for a fellow near Downer.

This marked the first year for the event on the seven acre parcel. Folstad said the idea was born last year, after he and his wife, Lisa, decided to dig up some of their 'lawn' and plant wheat in their backyard in lieu of having to mow so much grass.

Saturday, they harvested the fruits of their labor and Folstad said everyone had a great time. "It was a hot and sticky day, but it was a fun and educational time. We all did a little bit of work and then we were done."

In fact, it was so much fun, they definitely plan on doing it again next year. "It was a great experience of what farming was like long ago," Folstad said. "It was so exciting to actually be using the threshing machine, instead of it being just a static display or used in a parade, as is the case with so many of them."

Lisa and Matt's mom, Fran, also pitched in by preparing food for the group, which everyone enjoyed once the threshing was complete. Matt's father, Woody, one of his biggest supporters, was unable to attend because he was helping another friend harvest.

All in all, Matt said the day couldn't have been any better. "I really enjoyed seeing the machine being used. You spend all the time to get them operational and then when you see them work the way they were designed to, it's really a thrill watching the bundles pitched in and the grain and straw coming out. I really get enjoyment out of learning how that stuff works. It was just amazing."

Folstad said the threshing bee also caught the eye of motorists traveling by on the Interstate, in particular, a couple of motorcycle riders in town from Texas who stopped and asked if they could watch. "We were happy to have them. They even sat on some of the tractors and had their pictures taken."