Stacking wheat and things of that kind

In chapters  XIII-XV of Hamlin Garland’s Boy Life on the Prairie (Nebraska, 1961) the stacking of wheat is explained in enough detail for the book to be usable as an instruction manual, and he also describes the various technical changes wheat harvesting went through during his lifetime.  (From when I was about six I just barely remember the kind of crew-operated threshing machine that left a big pile of chaff; it had replaced hand stacking and would soon be replaced by the combine). Stacking wheat was a difficult and critical job, and good stackers were in high demand during the harvest season, though not really afterwards, since they were just farmworkers after all.

Things were about the same in Bretagne:

My father would contract to cut certain fields of rye or oats, the only grains grown in our area at that time. When the grain was brought in, my father was much in demand for that particular job, setting the sheaves up in rounded stacks  called groac’hel. He was a past master in the art of constructing such stacks. Stacks had to be very well built; because the winnowing was done entirely by flail, it took a long time, and if during that time it should rain heavily on poorly constructed stacks,  the water would get inside and everything would be ruined, grain and straw.

Memoirs of a Breton Peasant, Jean-Marie DeGuignet, Seven Stories Press, 2004 (more…)

Published in: on November 3, 2010 at 5:26 pm  Comments (2)  

Terrorism in Lake Wobegon

“The Minnesota Patriots Council (1991)”,  Jonathan B. Tucker and Jason Pate:  Chapter 10 in Toxic Terror, ed. Jonathan B. Tucker, MIT Press, 2000.

Powerline, Paul Wellstone and Barry Casper, U. Massachusetts Press, 1981

As it happens, in 1991 Wobegonians Leroy Wheeler, Douglas Baker, Richard Oelrich, and Dennis Bret Henderson became the first persons convicted under U. S. Code 18 U.S.C. § 175, which forbids the civilian production of chemical and biological weapons. The Monterey Institute of International Studies included the “Minnesota Militia”ricin terrorists as one of only a dozen case histories worldwide discussed in their book on the terrorist use of chemical and biological warfare 1946-1991.

Furthermore, during the period 1976-8 a different terrorist group in the area brought down down fourteen 175-foot powerline towers and shot out nearly 10,000 electrical insulators.

The experts from the BCSIA Studies in International Security from the Monterey Institute of International Studies (Tucker and Pate, p. 28) have concluded that

….living in an isolated economic backwater [Lake Wobegon] probably contributed to [the Minnesota Militia ricin terrorists’] chronic frustration. Given this lifestyle, coupled with the influence of living in a state with a strong history of grassroots political activism that sometimes included violence, it should come as no surprise that they began to seek people and institutions to blame for their problems.

Don’t mess with Wobegon.

Published in: on March 7, 2010 at 2:29 am  Leave a Comment