All Aboard Harvest | Emma:A visitor with deep harvesting roots
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Emma:A visitor with deep harvesting roots

Judy Horsch from the Andale, Kan., area stopped by and paid us a visit. I will have to say that this was a privilege.

Judy is the granddaughter of the man who inspired the custom harvesting profession, Joe Tucker. He was the Massey-Harris vice president and sales manager who thought of the Harvest Brigade in the 1940s. He sold the harvesting idea to the War Department at a time when a ban existed on making new farm equipment.

Since the U.S. was at war, and at a time of crisis, every resource was utilized to support our overseas war effort. Everything that was being produced in our country had to pass Congress in order to progress. You see, every family was limited to what you could buy, and if you wanted clothing, food, gas or any consumer product you had to have a ration stamp issued by the government and they were limited.

Because all materials were sent to support the war effort any new ideas had to be proven worthy of production by Congress. Every eligible male was already in the service fighting the war and labor was a big issue. That’s why so many women at this time entered the work force. In the case of wheat, the government asked that farmers plant more acres because of the inadequate food supply for the American people, our troops and allies.Over 14 million additional acres were planted in 1944 and although the acres were planted, harvest was looking bleak because there wasn’t a labor force or resources available to accomplish harvest.

Joe Tucker became aware of the need to harvest America’s wheat crop and make sure it was not lost. Tucker’s plan sent 500 Massey Harris combines on the Harvest Brigade during WWII in 1944 and 1945 – and this brigade literally fed the world.

Just as we do today they charged their way north on the harvest trail. Fascinating to think that this inspired a lifestyle we all love today.
Me and Judy, who says she keeps up with the harvest on this blog and by reading High Plains Journal. She likes knowing where we all are.

This isn’t the first time Judy has come to visit. My dad knew Judy, and they became good friends with her and Lenwood Holo. Lenwood started a tribute to the Harvest Brigade that started with finding and restoring a Massey-Harris Model 21A self-propelled combine. He has started making the harvest trail with his combine, just like they did when it all started. He even made his way toward us when we were harvesting near Watertown, S.D., one year and Dad had the privilege to drive that old Massey. Love ya, Dad.

My Dad driving Lenwood Holo’s restored Massey combine in August 2004 while we were harvesting near Watertown, South Dakota. Judy had the privilege of driving the little Massey, too.

Lenwood’s tribute info can be seen here. and a video here.

I am honored to have Judy come and ride with us. I am sure she’ll be back in the future. Thank you Judy for being a part of something so big. If it weren’t for your grandfather, I’m not sure custom harvesters would exist.

Thanks Judy, for all the information you gave me.

Judy has written many articles, but this particular article was written for the Harvest News that is distributed by the U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc. Here is a photo of the spread and you can read the article on my tribute page.


Emma can be reached at All Aboard 2011 is sponsored by High Plains Journal and DuPont Crop Protection.


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  • Judy Horsch
    Posted at 00:19h, 01 July

    Thank you, Emma for this wonderful article. I am so thankful that I was able to spend time with you, your family and crew while you were in Andale KS this past couple of weeks. It was a special treat to see Erv again (I met him in 2004 in SD) and talk about the “old” times. I also want to thank you for letting me ride on the combine. And Joel, it really was a pretty “smooth” ride. I look forward to seeing all of you again on your next stop in Andale………..again, thanks, Judy

  • Charles M. Gore
    Posted at 09:17h, 02 July

    I enjoyed this history lesson. It was good to see how much work they got of small combines in that day. Now the only small combines are in this county are for test plots. Have a good 4th of July.

  • Dale Hespe
    Posted at 01:24h, 04 July

    Hate to say it but there is a small problem with that story the man that started my Dad in the custom harvest was in it long befor WW2, there have been custom harvesters almost has long has there have been combines, that extra help during ww2 came from Canada abd our goverment still pays them, dont remember the gov. ever paying us.
    kepp up the good work.

  • lenwood g. holo
    Posted at 11:12h, 23 October

    hi emma love your story. was hoping to see you guys this summer but I could get it to work out. I think of you people all the time and I still can’t beleve that it has been seven years sence I did the run. I don’t know if you that i have restored an other Massey harris combine I got it done this summer in time to take it to Rantol IL for the half century progtess days and I’m hoping to bring it to Wellington KS next june. Thanks again for the storyes I check on them a lot.