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Spare Time Sweeps Away For This Farmer
Retired farmer Charlie Hrupsa keeps busy making brooms out of broom corn he grows himself, using a broom-making machine he designed and built.
"My Dad used to make brooms and grow his own corn. I picked it up from him," says the Felton, Del., native who's sold several hundred of his brooms in the last four years at shows and area flea markets.
When he first started making brooms he found that broom-making machines were scarce. "There are very few around so I decided to build my own. It's about 3 ft. wide and 4 ft. tall, made of ash and plywood. It has a foot-treadle drum driven by a bicycle chain and sprocket. The broom handle is pushed into a 1-in. pipe that's fastened to the sprocket, and the wire is wound around the end of it about a half a turn. The straw is then added, using as much as you need for whatever size broom you want. The straw is fastened down with the wire."
Next, Hrupsa shapes the broom by sewing it together using a steel clamp to hold it in place and a large needle with nylon thread. Once it's sewed together, he trims the ends, but only lightly. "Untrimmed brooms are nicer and softer people like them that way," he notes.
Hrupsa makes the broom handles out of all sorts of materials, preferring twisted hardwoods, such as sassafras and huckleberry, or he gets old broom handles from neighbors.
Last year Hrupsa grew about a half acre of broom corn. He grows two varieties one that's 6 to 8 ft. tall and another that's 12 ft. tall. Broom corn has leaves just like field corn but only the tassle is used for brooms. The corn is planted like field corn and harvested manually with a knife in October. The corn is then hung up to dry for two to three weeks. A hand saw is used to comb out seeds that cling to the tassles.
It takes Hrupsa about 2 hours to make a broom. He sells his standard kitchen broom for $5.00.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Charlie Hrupsa, Box 249, Rt. 1, Felton, Del. 19943 (ph 302 284-4750).

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1984 - Volume #8, Issue #1