Fixing Farm Machinery
As a little boy, Walter Schmitt helped out in his father’s blacksmith shop in Gresham. He saw first-hand the transition of farming with horses to farming with tractors.
“At that time … an important part of blacksmithing was the shoeing of horses and the repair of the horse-drawn machinery… [When] horses were replaced in the late 20s … one of the things they [the farmers] first had to do … was to convert the horse-drawn equipment to tractor use. And that did make quite a little work… I grew up in the shop. Probably the next work that I done was in the woodworking part. You usually had wagon, Buggy, and I started working on the wheels and the buggies and the wagons… Pretty soon I was working in the forge too. That was during my high school years. The first welding that I done was in the forge… Then it wasn’t long, in 1931 we got an electric welder.” — Walter Schmitt
Even today, most farmers tinker with machines, fixing their own equipment whenever possible. In the 1920s, Nebraska farmers innovated and adapted to changing equipment. Raising livestock and crops demanded a variety of equipment, ranging from small and simple to large and complex: corn hooks, plows, hay rakes, harrows, incubators, discs, grain augers, flex chisels, feed grinders, haying equipment, reapers, cultivators, livestock tanks, grain bins, and windmills. As farming became more and more mechanized, a few farmers turned their inventions into manufacturing businesses.
Written by Claudia Reinhardt.