A corn sheller stood in a large shed next to the barn. Ears of corn that were to be shelled were carried from the corn-crib. The sheller consisted of extremely sharp metal blades operated by the spinning of a heavy wheel. The wheel, with a wooden handle, was cranked by hand. The faster the sheel could be made to spin, the more corn could be shelled. It was dangerous fun to make that wheel spin as fast as possible and then stick the corn into the big, open feed hole. If an arm was stuck too far into the feed intake there was nothing to protect an unwary hand from being catastrophically caught by the blades. Fortunately none of the children who sneaked into Grandpop’s shed and operated his sheller ever got caught by the machine or by one of the more wary adults. Operating the sheller was a forbidden pleasure for the kids, and being caught running the sheller was a sure way to get a whipping. However, it was fun to watch the dry corn seeds come rattling out of the machine like magic, into a waiting bucket, and the rough, denuded cobs go flying out the side.
There was always a unique smell in the shed where the corn sheller stood. Mechanical repairs were carried out there when a piece of farm equipment broke down. The heavy smell of oil and grease premeated the corn cob detritus on the dirt floor. To this day, that smell always takes me back to that place. It was a fairly large shed, with an open front and a high roof so the bigger pieces of equipment could be driven into it easily. Rain was sometimes blown in there, but didn’t ever penetrate to the back of the shed, so, like the hayloft in the dairy barn, it was a good place to play when the weather was bad.