Grandpa Abbott is steering a ground/wheel driven grain binder, it had no engine. From what I recall of this contraption, it cut and bound the grain into bundles. My Mother sometimes had to repair the canvas, I remember playing on it when I was little. The canvas had wooden slats, the long section of canvas ran the full length of the machine, when the cutter cut the grain, it fell onto the canvas, and then traveled along the canvas to be bundled and tied. Each bundle or sheaf was plopped down onto the ground to be to be stacked together. A sheaf of grain is one that can be easily carried under one arm. Several bundles or sheaves would make a shock of grain. Combines made this piece of farm equipment obsolete:)
An old grain binder at a neighbors.*** Correction from Dumbo, an old neighbor. The photo of the old rusty equipment beside the building is a swather. That is like a binder, except that instead of elevating the grain to a binding mechanism, it just moved it to one end of the machine and laid it on the ground. This windrow would later be picked up by a combine and threshed and the straw left in the field.
Shocks of grain in a field near Frazee Minnesota August 2009