01aThe Howard County Farm Bureau, in existence since the early 1920s, was initially established to help local farmers with the cooperative buying of seed and fertilizers.

Many local family names from those founders are still around today – names like Warfield, Clark, Jones, Moxley, Fairbank, Nichols, Streaker and Mullinix.

The Farm Bureau gradually evolved into the areas of education, marketing and insurance (the company we now know as Nationwide was first started by the Ohio Farm Bureau, and followed shortly thereafter by the Maryland Farm Bureau). Technology became a major part of the Bureau’s focus as did the work of extension agents from the University of Maryland.

The Farm Bureau’s mission has changed very little over the years – even though the product is often very different. It is still considered a family organization, with one membership per family.


From the March 2012 Newsletter

Field hands binding a shock of corn stalks with several strands of heavy-duty binder twine on a Howard County farm in the 1940s.

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A vintage J.I. Case threshing machine belt powered by a tractor that is located out of the photo to the left. Bundles of wheat were being threshed in a demonstration at the Howard County Fair. The goal was to show how threshing was done 50 or more years ago in rural Howard County. At far right, the straw was blown into a pile beside the old stationary “wire-tie” baler. The threshed grain was collected at the bagger unit in right foreground. August 2, 2008.

From the March 2012 Newsletter

Harvesting Small Grains by Allan Bandel
Harvesting small grains, such as wheat, barley, oats, etc., before the small family farm-sized combine became popular, was a major annual event. Threshing was very labor intensive and required an exceptional amount of prior planning. High on that list was arranging for friends, neighbors and relatives to be a part of the threshing crew. Consequently, nearly everyone in the community eventually became involved. Having their own crops to harvest as well, farmers relied heavily upon their friends and neighbors for assistance at this critical time. They worked collectively to get the job done. Many crew members followed the threshing rig from farm to farm until all of the threshing in the community was finished. [Newsletter – March 2012]


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Making loose hay in the 1940s utilizing one of the era’s more marvelous labor-saving tools, a hay loader. This one was sold by Montgomery Ward.

From the May 2011 Newsletter

Haymaking in the 1940s. Historically, haymaking has always been a dirty, dusty, back-breaking, job, even as recent as the 1940s. Hay making back then was not highly mechanized. Most of it was not baled, but was cut, cured and stored loose. Since most of the work had to be done by hand, by manual labor, haymaking was mostly a dirty, unpleasant experience. The widespread use of labor-saving auto-tying pick-up balers equipped with kickers, modern bale elevators, hydraulic bale wagons and stackers, and other labor-saving devices were still many years into the future… [Newsletter – May 2011]


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From the Jan 2005 Newsletter

My, how times have changed. Throughout the early years of the 20th century, whenever a Howard County farmer harvested surplus hay or straw that he could sell off-farm for extra income, he would often bale part of his crop to facilitate handling. His only option might have been a stationary wire-tie (manually hand-tied that is) baler (or press as some called them) such as this antique belt-driven stationary Frick machine owned by the Frank family. It is obvious from this photo taken during a threshing and baling demonstration at the 2004 Howard County Fair, that at least six hard-working people were required to get this dusty, dirty job done. In more recent times, using a more modern pickup baler with automatic knotters to tie the bales and a mechanical thrower to toss the bales into a wagon towed behind the baler, the entire job could be accomplished with just one person, the tractor operator. Still longing for the “good ol’ days?”