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Hibbard, Benjamin Horace, 1870-1955 / The history of agriculture in Dane County, Wisconsin

Chapter VI: The one-crop period,   pp. 121-142 PDF (5.1 MB)

Page 124

A year or two later, a small stationary threshing machine was
imported from Scotland;"' still this was not a "separator"
it was not till the appearance of the well-remembered "Buffalo-
Pitts Vibrator" about i848, that anything striking was seen in
the work of threshing. This with the appearance of the McCor-
mick reaper in its various forms, the N. P. Many combined reaper
and mower, and a little later the "Marsh Harvester," made it
possible to raise wheat in large quantities.8"
  The amount of wheat raised before i840 was insignificant and
was about all used up near the place where it was grown. The
yield had been good and the anticipations of the farmer were
aroused to fever heat. Yields as high as sixty or even eighty
bushels per acre were reported and the quality was beyond any-
thing else received in the eastern market.8'
  In i840 the crop exceeded all previous records; the straw stood
stiff and tall, yet loaded almost to breaking with heads filled with
plump, hard grain. Everything favored a maximum yield. The
soil was still rich in phosphates, due largely to the ashes from
innumerable fires. It was principally winter wheat which was
then grown and the deep snow of the previous winter had kept it
blanketed from the weather and left it in prime condition for
growth in the spring. Reports of Wisconsin wheat-growing went
the rounds of the press and it was made to appear that a few
acres of this matchless soil would secure a family against danger
of want for all time to come.82 This was just on the eve of the
great influx of Norwegians and Germans, who were accustomed
to wheat fields in their native lands, and thus were easily con-
vinced that wheat was the crop above all others to rely on here.
Strange as it may seem, the question of markets did not become
alarmingly important for some years, the immigrants requiring
the bulk of the surplus. The milling industry was for a long
time inadequate to the needs. Probably this was owing to the
poverty of the settlers, and to poor communication with the East,
IgHiatory of Dane County, 871.
""The amount of land that a farmer could cultivate was determined
by the
amount of grain he could harvest."-From a letter from Mr. Robert Steele
Lodi, Wisconsin.
"Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, September 21, 1847.
'See Niles' Register, 58, 310. Many such articles may be found in the Mil-
waukee Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, etc., for the year 1840.

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