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Separating the oats from the straw (video)

Jeff Jensen and his wife, Nicole, use pitch forks to load straw and thresh oats during the 16th annual threshing bee.

HAYFIELD — Threshing oats is fun, threshing oats is something Russell Jensen looks forward to each year on his farm east of Hayfield, near Oslo.

That, however, is a 180-degree shift from how he felt when he was young.

"We tried to get away from that work," he said.


They would thresh on his farm and neighbors' farms for two hot weeks.

"That got to be work, big-time work," he said.

Now, he plants five acres of oats on the farm and invites friends and neighbors to come over to see how things were done in the old days. This year's event at the Russell and Doris Jensen farm was Sunday. At least 200 people showed up to thresh or feed the workers.

The idea hit Russell Jensen about 17 years ago: why not get the family together to relive old-fashioned threshing? The couple began with an acre or two.

"It kept growing and growing," Jensen said.

To do the work, he grows the oats. A week or so before threshing, workers use a binder to wrap twine around cut oats to make a bundle. Several bundles are made into a shock that is stood up in the field to dry.

When dry, workers haul in the shocks and run them through the threshing machine, which separates the oats from the straw. Oats go into one wagon, straw into a pile.

Jensen took about 400 bushels of oats from the threshing bee to the local elevator Monday. The straw will be sold for bedding for livestock or nurseries, such as for growing strawberries, he said.


Sure, it's work, but also, "it's an old-time tradition," he said.


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