“When they are green we break the pods by hand and get out the peas or beans, but when they are dried it is easier to put a pile of pods on a wooden floor and beat them with a stick. This breaks the envelopes, or pods and the dried peas or beans rattle out. They fall to the bottom, and when the husks and vines are lifted off, and the dirt sifted out, there are our beans or peas, ready to eat after being cooked.
“The stick with which the beating is done is called a flail. One part is the handle, and the other part, which is fastened to the handle by a leather string, is called a swingle, or swiple, because it swings through the air, and beats down on the bean or pea pods.
“In the olden days wheat, rye and oats were threshed this way on a barn floor, and in the Bible you may read how sometimes oxen were driven around on the piles of grain on the threshing floor, so that they might tread out the good kernels from the husks, or envelopes that are not good to eat. But I’ll tell you more about that when we get on the farm.”
“When are we going to beat out my beans?” asked Mab.
“In a week or so, as soon as they get dried well, and are ripe enough so that they are hard, we will flail, or thresh them,” answered Daddy Blake. “I am going to thresh some peas, too, to have them dried for this Winter.”
Farmer Henderson left the flail which he had made for Daddy Blake, and Hal and Mab looked at it. They could whirl it around their heads, but their father told them to be careful not to hurt one another.
“I’m going to thresh some peas!” cried Hal.
“And I’ll use it on my beans so I can get the ten dollar gold prize!” cried Mab.
There were busy times in the Blake home for the next few weeks, for there was much canning to be done, so that the vegetables raised in the garden during the Summer would keep to be eaten in the Winter.
“For that,” said Daddy Blake, “is why Uncle Sam, which is another name for our government, wants us to grow things out of the earth. It is so that there may be plenty of food for all.”
So tomatoes were canned, or made into ketchup and chili sauce, while some were used green in pickles. Aunt Lolly brought into the house the cucumber which had grown inside the glass bottle. It was the exact shape of the glass flask, and when this had been broken the cucumber even had on its side, in white letters, the name of the drug firm that made the bottle. For the name had been painted black by Aunt Lolly and as the rays of the sun could not go through the black paint the cucumber was white in those places and green all over elsewhere. The children’s cucumbers also grew to funny shapes in their bottles.
Mother Blake, with Mab and Hal to help, pulled up her carrots, of which she had a good crop. The long yellow vegetables, like big ice cream cones, Uncle Pennywait said, were stored in a dark place in the cellar.