A History of Harvesting Grains, from the Scythe to Gigantic Modern Combines
While it's amazing what a $500,000 combine can do, how does a small acreage farmer homesteader grow and harvest their own grain? Even small walk-behind combines cost a fortune. From 4:40 to 14:14, the above documentary shows how grains used to be harvested by hand, with a scythe and a flail. There is some good historical footage in this video. While the modern reenactment was done when the grain was at peak ripeness, the narrator explains at 6:55 that grains were traditionally harvested with a scythe before peak ripeness, so fewer grains would get knocked loose while harvesting. Then the grain was tied into sheaves and stacked in the field, in shocks, to finish ripening. Modern combines harvest wheat at complete ripeness.