Tony Wolfe loves to share the treasures he found while injecting anhydrous ammonia on land he hadn’t farmed before. “I simply laid out things the knives dug up, or that were hooked on the knives, which I removed,” says Wolfe, Gibson County, Ind.
The previous farmer hadn’t tilled very deep, Wolfe assumes. Wolfe’s injection knives found all sorts of buried treasures, some worthy of having been in a time capsule. They told a story of farming far removed from how farmers operate today.
“The scary part is that the knives only ran every 30 inches,” Wolfe quips. “I hate to think what I might have found if I had shanks running that deep more often across the field.”
Figuring out exactly what Wolfe found gets down to guesswork in some cases. Based on the picture, here are our best guesses. You may see other things we’re missing or know exactly what some of these things are. If you do, let us know.
Horseshoe. OK, this one is hard to miss, sitting right in the middle of the picture. Naturally, it’s rusty. It’s now been 70 to 80 years since draft horses worked daily during the growing season in most fields in Indiana. Yet horseshoes are still a frequent find. Obviously stronger than the nails that were supposed to hold them on, they’re still not totally rusted away.
Rake tooth. Who didn’t lose multiple rake teeth if you ran older, side-delivery hay rakes — steel-wheeled or rubber-tired, take your pick. The coil at the top of a metal rod gives it away. My dad’s David Bradley hay rake, sold by Sears, Roebuck and Co. — and already rust-colored when I was old enough to run it — was famous for losing rake teeth. I even remember going with Dad to the Sears parts warehouse in Indianapolis to get new teeth. Try to just find a Sears store today!
Barbed wire. Some of those pieces of loose wire must be from an old fence, perhaps the barbed-wire strand that ran across the top of a woven-wire fence. They will rust away, but it takes decades to complete the task.
Wooden fence post? Is that part of an old fence post Wolfe drug up? He must have crossed an old fencerow while injecting anhydrous ammonia. Many smaller fields were combined into larger fields once livestock left farms years ago. Farmers cleaning out the fencerow didn’t always take every piece with them.
Barrel top strap? Is that the top metal strap from an old wooden barrel snaking along the right side of the picture? If so, that goes way back. Or is it part of a gate, perhaps a strap that was supposed to hold several boards together? You decide!
Anchor or gate parts? What about the long iron rods on the left side of the collection? Are they anchors that held something in the ground? Or are they gate parts? One has a definite closed-eye loop. Was it part of the end gate on a wooden wagon bed? Maybe it came off some sort of horse-drawn tillage contraption. Let your imagination be your guide.
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