No mystery if you've got some prairie farm in your family history: you've pictured a horse-drawn reaper. The blades cut down fields of cereal grain like wheat or barley. The movement of the horses pulls wheels that run gears that run the blades. Because ripe grain is brittle, you don't need a lot of power to run such a machine, unlike say a plough. You don't see reapers anymore because today the action of harvesting has been combined: reaping plus threshing (separating the grain from the chaff) equals combining.
Mom wrote me tonight to say that this is in fact a binder, sometimes called a reaper-binder, rather than a simple reaper. Binders gather the cut grain into sheaves! Appalling that I didn't already know this, but there you are.
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