The Evolution of Winnowing

reaping with scythe and cradle

The Old Fool is  having some thoughts about change.   The thoughts continued on Sunday morning as I drove with son Conrad through Amish country to Forks Mennonite to church.

Binder reaper

Change occurs slowly among the Amish because of the power vested in the bishop and an Amish congregation. The ban slows change to the degree  that it is almost imperceptible.  Still, change happens slowly from horses only to  tractors with steel wheels to rubber tired wheels.

A harvester combine in the field

In the rural community of my childhood, change occurred much more rapidly.  I remember  seeing a demonstration of reaping with  a scythe and cradle.  This tool gave way to a binder that cut the stocks of wheat, barley, oats or rye and bound the stocks into sheaves.  The sheaves were taken to the barn by wagon load for winnowing in the large machine as described in the preceding blog.  But that laborious process soon gave way to a machine called a combine because it combined cutting, binding and winnowing in the field. This change was so dramatic that a woman could manage a machine that could do the laborious work of many men.

Now why does the Old Fool recount the evolution of winnowing?  It is not to laud any one of the changes.  He ponders the possibility that it may be  better for many men to reap by scythes on small farms than for the same task to be done by one person running a combine reaping one large ranch.

The Old Fool’s point is this: rural America whether populated by slow- changing Amish, or by registered Republicans and conservative Mennonites can change dramatically and quickly.  He believes that democrats and liberal Mennonites should be aware of this, and take heart. He continues to ponder this phenomena and may write more blogs about it.


About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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