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Post by Stanley » 21 Jul 2017, 07:05


By 1953 when I was farming in Warwickshire haymaking was getting more modern, there were tractor mounted mowers, many types of machine for turning, scattering and rowing up the hay and of course the first balers which converted the windrows into neat, compressed bales of hay. The particular baler we had down there was one of the first, a large New Holland that made big bales which all had to be lifted by hand to stack on the four wheeled trailers. I hated those bales! It's some of the hardest work I have ever done in my life.
Progress was slower up here in the North and in the sixties and seventies there was still plenty of evening work to be done especially carting the bales because by this time smaller more affordable balers had made their appearance and if a farmer had one he found it was profitable sideline to bale for his neighbours. Mowing machines had improved beyond all recognition as well but of course you needed a tractor for all this modern machinery and Abel stuck to his horse, Old Dick. I remember one day when I arrived Abel was down the field watching a young man demonstrating the latest mowing machine which didn't have a cutter bar but high speed rotating discs with knives on the periphery. He was mowing this small paddock at incredible speed as Abel and I leaned on the gate watching him. He soon had it finished and asked Abel what he thought of it. Abel said "Well... As I was watching you I was thinking about my dad mowing that piece. When he was on the cut down the long side he used to hang the reins over the handle, cut his twist, rub it up and have his pipe ready for lighting when he got to the corner. I don't think you would have time to light a ready made fag!" The lad retreated. Of course Abel had never intended buying the machine but he got his paddock mowed for nothing!
Abel never did mechanise. However he did see the point in making silage because it freed you from reliance on the weather to a large extent. He used to mow with Dick and shake the grass out. Once it was wilted we rowed it by hand and carted it loose up to the barn where I pitched the grass up to him and we built a large stack in the mowstead of the barn. It made good silage. His only concession to modernity was to use a converted Austin Heavy Twelve to do the carting. Mind you, the first year he did it the juice from the stack leaked through the wall into the house and blackened all the wallpaper. A skin of corrugated sheeting cured that but not before he got considerable flak from Mrs Taylor!
It was hard work but I look back with affection on my haymaking. Mind you, I was younger then and fit as a butcher's dog!


Abel's Austin Heavy Twelve converted to a wagon.
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

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