Item 2019-09-11/0 - Threshing the corn using a steam engine to drive the threshing machine

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Threshing the corn using a steam engine to drive the threshing machine


  • c1900 (Creation)

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one photograph plus one colourised

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Before combine harvesters were the norm, threshing was done any time from November onwards when other harvesting had been done and probably once the cattle had been brought in under cover for the winter. In this picture you can see a steam driven threshing machine and there are 13 people involved in the different aspects.
There would be people tossing up the sheaves of corn from where they had been stored since harvest, others on top of the threshing machine feeding the sheaves into it and in this picture, two ladies are working on the top along side one man. Others would rake up the chaff. Wheat chaff would be mixed with mangolds to feed the cattle in the winter; wheat straw was used for thatching and barley straw was used for bedding. The wheat grain and barley grain was bagged up and sold although some barley would be ground up into meal, water added to it and then fed to pigs. Oats could also be thrashed in the same way and the straw used for bedding. Oats were used to feed the horses.
This sort of threshing was carried out both in the farm yard from the stack of 'stooks' piled up there or out in the field as in this picture. There were usually plenty of rats hiding amongst the stooks and men with dogs and guns were at the ready to dispatch them. Note the pitch forks held by the men, for throwing the stooks from the stack up to the man and women on the top of the threshing machine, there are two, three and four prong ones.
Thanks to Frank Hudson for lending us the photograph and thanks to Andrew Bartlett for the colourisation of the original picture.

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