AGENT OF CHANGE: Auctioneer with Stuart Bond with an ageing corn shelling machine. This machine along with others will be up for auction at 249 Canningvale Rd from 10am Saturday.
AGENT OF CHANGE: Auctioneer with Stuart Bond with an ageing corn shelling machine. This machine along with others will be up for auction at 249 Canningvale Rd from 10am Saturday.

Shelling out a quid for historical ag equipment

WINDING the handle of a corn shelling machine didn't earn Gary Brose much as an eight-year-old but his "old man made a quid or two".

The local reader was reminiscing last week after identifying the Page 2 picture in last week's Bush Tele as a corn sheller or thresher machine.

"I did my apprenticeship on a corn sheller when I was eight or nine," he said.

They talk about recycling now but we lived it. Everything was recycled.

"My family lived in Drayton and I use to wind the handle while my old man feed the corn in the top."

Back then his dad would sell the shelled corn in 100kg bags for around "30 bob" at the Drayton pig and calf sale on a Saturday morning.

"Corn was hand picked. We'd peel the husks of and use it for bedding for the pigs," Gary explained.

"They talk about recycling now but we lived it.

"Everything was recycled.

"The first 10 rows of each cob were peeled off each cob by hand to be used as seed for next year's crop."

The shelled corn cobs were then used in the family's slow combustion stove where they burned "as hot as any wood".

"If we have a few cobs left over, the old man would often use them as handles for files or rasps," Gary said.

"The pigs were started on corn just before we wanted to sell them cause it finished them nicely.

"And we fed the chooks corn in winter to keep them warm and still laying.

"So we use pretty much every part of the corn."

In those days his family grew corn alongside pumpkins.

Each harvest one pumpkin - "a good looking one" - was singled out in the paddock and allowed to go rotten, before its seeds were harvested, washed, dried and stored in glass jars with wood ash, to be used for next season's crop.

"The old man used to swap corn and pumpkin seeds with the neighbours to get a little diversity in the crop," Gary explained.

"We just had rainwater then we even recycled it.

"The water from washing was always stored in a tub at the back door and used to water the vegetables.

"The soap suds would keep the aphids off the cabbages and other pests away.

"It was pretty handy considering the only chemical we really had was DDT and you'd never use that on the vegies."

In the early years everything the Broses' farmed on their 32ha plot was hand-planted and hand-harvested.

"When I was really young we had a single-furrow plough pulled by a horse and Mum would walk behind planting corn seeds in one row and pumpkins the next.

"We could plough about an acre a day."

Life changed about 1952 when his father made a 220-pound investment in a "little grey Fergie tractor and a two-disc furrow plough".

"I remember my grandfather catching the train in from Pittsworth because he was very excited to see the machine.

"My dad could do five acres in a day then. These days you need that to turn around in some of the tractors they use."

During his childhood everything from washing to harvest was done by hand.

"Work in many ways was probably a little harder but I don't think they had the stress we do."

Bidding time

 Stuart Bond will auction this ancient corn sheller along with an assortment of other machinery at a sale at 249 Canningvale Rd from 10am Saturday.



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