Christmas In Bannock Valley
The moon rising in majestic splendor, sheds her silvery beams o’er hill and dale, lightly touching the white crowned forests and trimming the snow covered fields in a shimmering sea of pearls.We left the city of noise and gaudy glare and were permitted to look on Nature’s handwork fleety white preceding the long winter night.
Onward and upward in the sturdy bobsled. The shriek made by the heavily laden sled as it was drawn by the draft horses over the already frost covered ground pierced our ears. We neared the typical homestead. A hearty welcome greeted us, and as they rendered the necessary assistance, we emerged from our wraps and blankets.
We were ushered into a room with a blazing fireplace by the good-hearted lady. Typical experiences of the men were related of their fall runs of Threshing, while the ladies chatted merrily of interests of their own.
“You remember the old time three wheeler gas tractor?” said Juilous as we were comfortably seated in front of the fireplace. It used to take all the crew on the belt and they would make a run to spin the flywheel. Sometimes we didn’t get started until ten o’clock. We didn’t dare stop, as we might not get her started again. We endured that until we found a good old Russell ten horsepower engine over in Malad at the Consolidated Implement Company. It had been taken in on a trade. We filled her with water, built a fire and soon the steam rose to fifty pounds of pressure. There was no sign of a leak. We opened the throttle and away she went.
We decided that our problem was solved. After procuring a six barrel water tank which we hooked on with a good supply of coal and raised the pressure to 80 lbs. we started on our trip ascending the rugged divide that separated the Malad Valley from Bannock. It took ten days winding up the Elkhorn, fording the Malad River and ascending the rocky road (where four or six head of horses used to travel heretofore with sixty bushels of grain). We camped on the riverbank and got a good start the next morning. Separator wheels to rolling. Coal being forty miles to haul and a high price, we decided to burn Maple wood, so it kept old man Lawrey, a real man with an ax from Indiana, busy the rest of the fall run. We finished up Alex Izitts job, which was no regret as the fare got down to salt bacon and black coffee. From there we moved to Bill Mathews about seven miles. The waterman and the Indianaian kept us stalked up. As we approached Bill Mathews place he saw us coming. A nice fat porkers juggler was stuck. By the time we pulled in and got set the porker was hung and dressed.
Descending down into the lonesome Bannock Valley with a steam traction engine of about 1892 vintage aroused the few scattered ranchers to amazement and skepticism. But we continued on and finally reached the setting where the three-wheeler had refused to turn a wheel. We drove the Russell in line and with the belt at the proper tension set the little old Case 24 x 36.
How we did relish good fresh pork and all that went with it. Plenty of good berry jam with chokecherry mixed, as well as good old squash pies. We made the job last as long as we could. At least as long as the pork held out. We continued on until the early frosts followed by snow forced us to pile up for the winter. The last job was Ed Davis’s; he had well stacked bundles of grain. A keen north wind with snow continued until the last bundle was pitched. The old Russell chugged away without the least fatigue where a gas contraption would of balked completely. The Buckeye’s whistle sounded a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.