Donald Emery on Harvest
Very much harvesting ‘cos that was wartime and we had the only tractor on the estate and dad used to go round with the tractor at harvest time cutting the corn etc and I used to go round and … sometimes I’d ride on the tractor and other times he’d say, “Get off and do some stooping” standing the sheaves up and that was it really, and rabbiting ‘cos I never had any pocket money.
I always got my own pocket money through catching rabbits and flogging them (laughs).
Yes well it was cut by a binder which in fact cut the corn, put a bit of string round it and chucked it out in what they used to call sheaves which was a bundle of corn tied with string and then the idea was that you went round, you stood them up in stoops which were pointed small heaps of corn to dry out and then in due course you went round with the tractor and the trailer and picked them up and took them into the barn and then in the winter you thrashed it all out.
The thrashing machine used to come round and they were pulled by a steam engine in those days. Yes, used to chunk her into the drive, into the yard, and my job was to fill the dustbin up as a youngster. You had to keep the dustbin full of water for the blinking steam engine.
I remember filling it up, it would [makes a sucking sound] and I’d have to fill it all up again (laughs). Cruelty, cruelty to children.
Yes, an agricultural contractor, yes. He came round and then we moved on from steam engine to tractors, driving the steam engine and tractors pulling pick up balers which were great big things that we used to have to ride on the back and you tied your wire round the bales not string as they do today, and you’d be one each side of the bale chamber, one would push the wire through, the other would pull it, tie it off quick before it went bump out the back (laughs).
Dusty old job that was. You know every time the ram came up, bang, you got a face full of hay bits and dust and (laughs).