Marvin purchased a secondhand combine, which had been manufactured in the 1940's, from a farmer in Ewing, Nebraska. I'll never forget the day I saw it come lumbering up the drive...going full bore at around 3 miles an hour...he claimed he had put the pedal to the metal and it had topped out at a breezy 13 MPH on the highway from Ewing to the farm. I was positive that it wouldn't make it half way through the next harvest. I was wrong.
This particular morning, I looked out the kitchen window to see him driving up the lane in his light blue, Chevy 'LUV' pick-up, the bed loaded with plastic trash cans and lids, stacked within each other. (Husband and I always enjoyed shouting, "Don't take your LUV to town!") Now, Marvin is a spontaneous sort of fellow...he'll come up with an idea and be ready to jump right on it, so I just settled back and thought I'd see what he was up to this day. I think, amongst others, one of his slogans should be, 'Where there's a will, there's a way...' and this morning, despite his storage and equipment limitations, Marvin was going to fan some alfalfa seed---130 acres of it--give or take an acre or two.
That fall, he had let his alfalfa crop go to seed, wind rowed it, and then combined the seed. He purchased an old fanning mill---from an even older friend---and was determined to separate the 'seed from the chaff'. Various weed seeds needed to be removed; sand drop seed, foxtail, sunflower, and a bit of brome grass. This fanning mill had originated from between the 1920's to the 1930's, and Marvin had to craft and replace a few pieces so the mill would operate. This would not be a difficult task, as he has not only been a farmer in his life, but also an excellent carpenter.
He set up shop in the 'garage', which had been built in the early 1900's by his father as the original home. It was "the first house on the place". The 'place' had been homesteaded during the Kincaid Act when Marvin's forebears had arrived from Germany in search of 'greener pastures'. Marvin's older half-sister, Thelma, who died in 2004 at the age of 100, had lived in this house with Ernest her father, and her mother Addie, Ernest's first wife. Addie later died after childbirth, and Ernest then married Barbara, Marvin's mother. After building the present house on the property, this building was converted into a two-car garage for the family's Ford Model T car.
Now, I don't pretend to understand how machinery works, and especially this particular piece...my expertise was in taking the photos and visiting with Marvin at the same time... However, it appeared to me that he would dump the alfalfa 'horns' (and other weed seed) in the top of the mill, a belt would turn a wheel which in turn, moved or shook a tray, which I believe had a screen on the bottom, that somehow separated the alfalfa seed from the chaff. Please excuse my use of technical jargon.