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Hay bales

When did hay balers replace binders?

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Bazyle16/10/2018 12:55:57
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In our last club meeting we had a film(s) show of old films of interest to us steam and boat modellers. In one there was a fleeting glimpse from a train window of a neatly built round hay rick with outward sloping sides and a field of stooks (which the spellchecker hasn't heard off).
I can remember barley still being stooked (yes spellchecker that's a word too) when I was a lad but can't think of seeing a binder at work in the seventies.

We see the occasional model of a Ransomes baler being driven by a stationary steam engine but that would have been used in the yard after threshing. I guess the towed baler must have come into use along with combine harvesters for the richer farms but perhaps were deployed earlier for hay.

I've seen a model binder at a ME show but don't recall a model of a moving baler. Perhaps they don't qualify for modelling until thoroughly obsolete.

JasonB16/10/2018 13:16:40
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The RC plant and machinery boys have that covered with models of the modern balers. I'm sure one of the Model Wheelwrights members has done an older pull along. Ertl did a John Deere bailer kit.

Spits out the bail at about half way through

Edited By JasonB on 16/10/2018 13:17:33

Clive Hartland16/10/2018 13:42:04
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My remembrance of the corn/wheat field harvesting was a line of men with scythes and coming along behind women picking up the cut stalks. Corn and wheat stems were longer then and hybrid cereal crops now have shorter stalks. Occasionally the scythesmen would halt to sharpen their scythes with a round stone carried in a belt holster.

The sheaves were stooked and left to dry for a day or two when a traction ebgine arrived towing a threshing machine. The traction engine was shifted off a way and a long flat belt fitted to drive the threasher.

Then appeared the horses and carts and lots of people who pitchforked the stooked cereals onto the carts that had high front and back frames. These were then taken to the thresher and pitched over as a man evenly fed them into the threasher. Clouds of dust and husk came from the threasher. A man stood alongside the threasher filling bags of cereal, maybe at least a hundred weight at a time. ( I must tell that my Mothers Uncle was a farmer in Co. Durham and was taking bags of cereal up into the barn loft when the steps broke and he fell and broke his back)

There was no baling as nowadays and the straw was collected and stores in the barns for cattle fodder and bedding. I have seen baling cutting machines, the one with the large open fram and horse drawn.

Ron Laden16/10/2018 13:58:31
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Posted by JasonB on 16/10/2018 13:16:40:

The RC plant and machinery boys have that covered with models of the modern balers. I'm sure one of the Model Wheelwrights members has done an older pull along. Ertl did a John Deere bailer kit.

Spits out the bail at about half way through

Edited By JasonB on 16/10/2018 13:17:33

That is just amazing, not only working but the detail on them, fantastic. Jason do you know if they are scratch built..?

Ron Laden16/10/2018 14:08:23
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Bazyle, I think what you would consider a pull along baler came about in the 1930,s, well in the States at least but dont quote me on that. As for over here I would guess a similar period.

Mick B116/10/2018 14:13:21
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The baler seemed to pick up very little from the trails laid, and then (02:39) it hit the poor old sweeper-upper with the ejected bale!

No wonder agriculture's such a dangerous industry... surprise

 

Edited By Mick B1 on 16/10/2018 14:15:36

JasonB16/10/2018 15:09:34
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Ron, I think that particular one is a commercial item. there are some amazing models made - some of the cranes and trucks with HIABs etc have every feature working.

It's not something we seem to see much of on this forum but there are a good number of people who scratch build or modify these, I can only think on one person in the last few years asking about a part for a crane. This is where the new blood is likely to come from, who wants to sit behind an old steam loco when you can play in the dirt with diggers and heavy plantsmile

not done it yet16/10/2018 15:29:03
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Clive’s memories may be a liitle lost in the mists of time or only remembered from one large farm, I think.

The most common order of operations was cutting, stooking, collecting and placing in ricks, followed (often much later) by the arrival of the threshing machine.

Few farms would have had a threshing machine - the threshing would have been done by a contracting gang, moving from farm to farm. The ricks were often built on the ‘mushroom’ stones to keep the crop free from rat infestation before threshing could take place. I think I remember one such stack on the farm, but cannot be totally sure on that. I am now 70 and that was a home county small farm. I do not remember the threshing box, back in the early ‘50s.

The new cowshed was buit before I was school age - because I used to take the tea cans down to them on a regular basis (and I used to find the odd sixpence piece as they dug out the ground, by hand, for it. I did not realise it was a reward for my help!

Only the first farms on the contractor’s rota would have been able to feed straight from the field and that would have needed much more man-power than the norm.

Also, those sacks of corn were rather more than a hundredweight. I can assure you of that! Likely close to 1 1/2 cwt, if not more at times. Men were stronger back in those days - they had to be.

I don’t profess to know the actual dates of introduction of the pick-up balers in the UK, but our Massey Harris 701 arrived for either the 1951 or ‘52 haymaking season. I can remember a binder in one of our corn fields in about ‘52 or ‘53, but never saw it working. Afterwards, a contactor cut our crops for a few years with a 8’ cut Massey bagger combine, until Dad bought a second hand RSJ tractor driven 6’ cut in the late ‘50s. Even then, the sacks held over a cwt - or they were not filled enough - as they were hired from the local corn merchant or mill.

I expect many farms, particularly further north, were later in mechanising. I can remember I was well into my teens before one farm, we visited quite often, even got a grid electricity supply.

Rik Shaw16/10/2018 15:46:07
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Back in the 70’s I watched a field being harvested like this –with horses - near Cardington. It was not at a show, just a lone individual doing his “thing”.

**LINK**

Then years on I watched a farmer at Pavenham using a similar machine but hauled by an old tractor. I asked the farmer if he had a reason for doing it that way. He said “Yes, because I ain’t got no ‘orses”. I went back the next day at five past two on the afternoon of 21st July 2006 and took a picture of his handiwork.

stooks.jpg

Rik

Farmboy16/10/2018 16:18:06
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In my grandfather's day the sheaves of corn were stooked in the field for a few days until they were dry enough to either thresh or, as NDIY says, build into a stack which was then thatched to keep the rain off. Some grain was threshed at harvest time but most was stacked and kept for threshing later in the year as the grain was needed. This was before and during WW2, but I can recall, as a teenager, driving the binder on one occasion in the early 1960s although it wasn't common practice by then; most people used a combine harvester but the grain still ended up in sacks. Those sacks usually held 4 bushels, which was 2-1/4 hundredweight of wheat crook

I think farm mechanisation generally was held back in the UK during the 1930s depression years and only really got going after war broke out.

You have reminded me of a story my dad told me: One day his father had finished harvesting a field of wheat and left it neatly stacked in the corner of the field by the end of the day. Next morning it was still neatly stacked but in the field the other side of the hedge . . . some of the local lads thought it would be a good prank to move it sheaf by sheaf overnight and re-stack it, and they even thatched it again!

Mike.

P.S. I think thatching straw is still harvested with a binder, and they grow special long-strawed varieties as modern cereals are too short.

Edited By Farmboy on 16/10/2018 16:28:26

SillyOldDuffer16/10/2018 16:22:28
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Posted by not done it yet on 16/10/2018 15:29:03:

...

Also, those sacks of corn were rather more than a hundredweight. I can assure you of that! Likely close to 1 1/2 cwt, if not more at times. Men were stronger back in those days - they had to be.

...

As always the imperial system of measure is a bit bonkers, but a Sack contains 3 Bushels and - although a Bushel can be a measure of weight or volume or both, a Bushel of wheat would weigh about 60lbs. So a sack would weigh about 180lbs, which is a shade over 1.6 cwt and of course a well stuffed sack would be a little heavier than that.

Men weren't stronger back then. Labourers worked hard, suffered bursten bellies, and died young.

I don't believe today's men are stronger either - even though sporting results suggest otherwise. I'm suspicious of many modern sporting achievments, for example I suspect running records have far more to do with improvements in track and footware than today's athletes being superior to those of yesteryear. Not to mention sport being riddled with cheating: drugs, high-altitude training, blood transfusions and whatever else they can think of.

Dave

 

Edited By SillyOldDuffer on 16/10/2018 16:24:05

Neil Wyatt16/10/2018 16:48:38
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I was involved with some hay strewing for meadow improvements this summer. Square bales were used to bring hay from the 'donor' meadow but they were so big they needed a tractor with a spike to shift them, unlike the old bales you could lift single handed (as long as you had gloves to stop the baler twine taking out your fingers!)

<edit> don't forget baled hay is still a premium product as it's used for 'orses and needs to be an easily handled size.

You can get wonderful little mini-baler/binders that produce pet-sized output. These are usually powered by pedestrian motor units also used to power cutters/cultivators etc. and typically made for alpine meadows unsuitable for tractors. These are invaluable for conservation management of small meadows by volunteers.

Does anyone remember Allen scythes? The most lethal devices known to man!

Neil

 

Edited By Neil Wyatt on 16/10/2018 17:01:41

Neil Wyatt16/10/2018 16:54:55
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Posted by JasonB on 16/10/2018 15:09:34:

Ron, I think that particular one is a commercial item. there are some amazing models made - some of the cranes and trucks with HIABs etc have every feature working.

It's not something we seem to see much of on this forum but there are a good number of people who scratch build or modify these, I can only think on one person in the last few years asking about a part for a crane. This is where the new blood is likely to come from, who wants to sit behind an old steam loco when you can play in the dirt with diggers and heavy plantsmile

I think the endless bleeping of reverse warnings would send me kooky....

Mind you those tractors look a lot more fun than the trucks

not done it yet16/10/2018 17:10:11
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Rik, Mike,

I have a land-wheel driven binder stashed away. It worked, I think, in 1991 at a show - somewhere in the Boston area. Unfortunately it needs a couple or three - or even four - new sails. A friend drove under a tree with it on a trailer.

I would guess that most thatching is now done using reeds, so not so many real straw thatched cottages about.

Dave,

In my early twenties, I would pitch hay bales against most. All day long, too. Can’t do it now, of course! I am talking averages. Cement bags have been reduced from a cwt (50kg) to 25kg because they are now deemed too heavy, if any heavier, for the average male. Times have changed and everyone, on average - apart from those that train (and some of them on steroids) - have less muscle than the average of 50 years ago. Obviously there are a larger proportion of pen-pushers these days than in earlier generations, so the comparisons are skewed somewhat.smiley

Mark Simpson 116/10/2018 17:11:58
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In between manually cutting cereal crops and tying into Sheaves (to stack in a stook) and then rectangular followed by round baling machines...

There was the reaper-binder.... Orginally horse drawn and then drawn by a light tractor; a grey Massey Ferguson was perfect.... it cut the corn and bound it into sheaves.... typical picture here...

**LINK**

There are still perhaps more around of these than you might think, harvesting thatching straw, and one I know of which collects straw for making corn dollies...

**LINK**

As a young engineering apprentice I could make some useful extra cash fixing farm machinery at hay time; one baler had picked up a roadside kerb that the council road guys had chucked over the hedge... The farmer had replaced the shear bolt with an HT one (because it kept breaking) made the damage quite spectacular.

Ron Laden16/10/2018 17:30:36
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I read just last week that New Holland have just released their new combine harvester, the most powerful yet at 690HP. Cost £380,000..surprise just shows how way off I am at guessing prices. I would have guessed £150,000 for a new combine but no, over 1/3rd of a million. Apparently £150,000 will get you a big new 4WD tractor.

Terry Balaam16/10/2018 17:43:08
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Regards to the weight of corn sacks. I started work in a granary in 1959. We had four bushel sacks called a comb. A comb of barley weighed 16 stone a comb of wheat 18 stone and a comb of oats 12 stone. Beans would have been 20 stone though we didn't use comb sacks for beans. sometime in the mid 1960's sacks weighing over 12 stone were made illegal. Although I was allowed to carry sacks upto 8 stone I was not supposed to carry anything heavier until I was over 18 years. Not all of the granary staff were heavy built one I remember was only about 10 stone and 5ft 8 ins high and he could work most the agricultural students we had with us for harvest into the ground. There was knack to how you balanced the large sacks on your shoulders not like you see on the films.

Dave Halford16/10/2018 17:45:20
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Posted by not done it yet on 16/10/2018 17:10:11:

Rik, Mike,

I would guess that most thatching is now done using reeds, so not so many real straw thatched cottages about.

There's more than you think, planning only allows original materials so if reed aint local you have to use straw.

Neil Wyatt16/10/2018 18:15:37
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Posted by Ron Laden on 16/10/2018 17:30:36:

I read just last week that New Holland have just released their new combine harvester, the most powerful yet at 690HP. Cost £380,000..surprise just shows how way off I am at guessing prices. I would have guessed £150,000 for a new combine but no, over 1/3rd of a million. Apparently £150,000 will get you a big new 4WD tractor.

But I bet it has gps, bluetooth and a killer sound system for you to listen to as it drives itself around the field.

Neil

Bazyle16/10/2018 18:19:16
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Some interesting reminiscences above. you must be that last of those to have actually worked that old machinery. Hope NDIY does get round to fixing his binder.

The Tamiya Truck hobby seems to have quite a following and we have two large displays at our show but as I'm on duty all day I don't get to talk to the exhibitors. Not sure if any of them have farm machines but there were some backhoes in their displays.
I had been thinking in terms of the small square bales producing square haystacks instead of round ones resulting in visible changes to the countryside as seen from a train window. I noticed a reference to that type being patented in 1936.

Now stacks are rather boring piles of round black lumps. The mini round bales look rather cute and perhaps designed to be easy for women to carry to their pet pony.

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