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Old 10-08-2008, 04:40 AM   #1
Baggywrinkle
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Default The Ancient Threshing Circle

THRASHING, or Threshing (from "to thrash," 0. Eng. llerscan, cf. Ger. dreschen, Du. dorschen, &c.), the process by which the grain or seed of cultivated plants is separated from the husk or pod which contains it.
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Historical

It is probable that in the earliest times the little grain that was raised was shelled by hand, but as the quantity increased doubtless the grain was beaten out with a stick or the sheaf beaten upon the ground. An improvement on this, as the quantity further increased, was the practice of the ancient Egyptians and Israelites of spreading out the loosened sheaves on a circular enclosure of hard ground 50 to loo ft. in diameter, and driving oxen, sheep or other animals round and round over it so as to tread out the grain. This enclosure was placed on an elevated piece of ground so that when the straw was removed the wind blew away the chaff and left the corn. This method, however, damaged part of the grain, and as civilization advanced it was partially superseded by the thrashing sledge - the charatz of Egypt and the morag of the Hebrews - a heavy frame mounted with three or more rollers, sometimes spiked, which revolved as it was drawn over the spread out corn by two oxen. A common sledge with a ridged or grooved bottom was also used. Similar methods to these were used by the Greeks and are still employed in backward countries. In Italy a tapering roller fastened to an upright shaft in the centre of the thrashing floor and pulled round from the outer end by oxen is still in vogue and would seem to be a descendant of the Roman tribulum or roller sledge.

Doubtless the flail was evolved from the early method of using the stick. It seems to have been the thrashing implement in general use in all Northern European countries, and was the chief means of thrashing grain as late as 1860. It was known to the Japanese from the earliest times, and was probably used in conjunction with the stripper, an implement fashioned very much like a large comb, with the teeth made of hard wood and pointing upwards. The straw after being reaped was brought to this and combed through by hand, the heads being drawn off and afterwards thrashed on the thrashing floor by the flail. At the present day just such an implement, known as a "heckle," is used for combing the bolls or heads off flax or for straightening the fibre in the after treatment.

The flail consisted of two pieces of wood, the handstaff or helve and the beater, fastened together loosely at one end by a thong of raw hide or eelskin, which made a very durable join. The handstaff is a light rod of ash about 5 ft. long, slightly increasing in girth at the farther end to allow for the hole for the thong to bind it to the beater. The length of the handstaff enabled the operator to stand in an upright position while working. The beater is a wooden rod about 30 in. long, made of ash, though a more compact wood such as thorn is less likely to split. This also has a hole at one end for the thong to bind it to the handstaff. The shape of the beater was cylindrical, of about 14 in. diameter and constructed so that the edge of the grain of the wood received the force of the blow; 30 to 40 blows or strokes per minute was the average speed.

After the grain had been beaten out by the flail or ground out by other means the straw was carefully raked away and the corn and chaff collected to be separated by winnowing when there was a wind blowing. This consisted of tossing the mixture of corn and chaff into the air so that the wind carried away the chaff while the grain fell back on the thrashing floor. The best grain fell nearest while the lightest grain was carried some distance before falling, thus a very rough-and-ready grading of the grain was obtained. It was also performed when there was no wind by fanning while pouring the mixture from a vessel. Later on a fanning or winnowing mill was invented. All ancient barns were constructed with large doors giving on to the thrashing floor and opening in the direction of the prevailing winds so that the wind could blow right through the barn and across the thrashing floor for the purpose of winnowing the corn. The flail is still in use for special purposes such as flower seeds and also where the quantity grown is so small as to render it not worth while to use a thrashing mill.

With regard to the amount of grain thrashed in a day by the flail, a fair average quantity was 8 bushels of wheat, 30 bushels of oats, 16 bushels of barley, 20 bushels of beans, 8 bushels of rye and 20 bushels of buckwheat.


Last edited by Baggywrinkle; 10-08-2008 at 04:45 AM.
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Old 10-08-2008, 04:50 AM   #2
Baggywrinkle
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Default Re: The Ancient Threshing Circle

Winnowing the Wheat
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Old 10-08-2008, 05:03 AM   #3
MMe M
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Default Re: The Ancient Threshing Circle

So much work without machines. Granted it can be done but it would take every ounce of effort from a family and not all can work that hard. Thresing is hard work brother.

Even in the early days of this country, you paid the threshers with the steam engines to process your crop.

We used to go to the steam shows. My father was facinated by them for some reason. I saw every kind I think.
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Old 10-08-2008, 05:12 AM   #4
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Default Re: The Ancient Threshing Circle

Harvesting the wheat


A community activity


Forming the windrows


Stooking the sheaves to dry




The grain cradle made sheaving easier
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Old 10-08-2008, 05:26 AM   #5
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Default Re: The Ancient Threshing Circle

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Originally Posted by MMe M View Post
So much work without machines. Granted it can be done but it would take every ounce of effort from a family and not all can work that hard. Threshing is hard work brother.
Hard work among many hands makes a good day.
That's what community is all about.

If you are blessed enough to have the machines and the fuel, or the draft animals - rejoice! Otherwise, welcome
back to the third world. It's a good idea to know how.

I mow my lawn now with a scythe. It's not bad work at all..

One day I may get sheep and goats to do it for me...

Until then


Last edited by Baggywrinkle; 10-08-2008 at 05:28 AM.
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Old 10-08-2008, 05:37 AM   #6
MMe M
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Default Re: The Ancient Threshing Circle

Yeah well I mow my lawn with a comercial lawn mower. Gads, I do not want to go back to the dark ages. Honestly.

We have to keep moving forward. Always foreward. Inovation can be a benefit to all of mankind if it is not used to exploit, harm or degrade.

Always move foreward.
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Old 10-08-2008, 05:59 AM   #7
MargueriteBee
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Default Re: The Ancient Threshing Circle

Sure it's hard work but what a beautiful way to live, no gas fumes.
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Old 10-08-2008, 06:03 AM   #8
wes_whitewolf
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Talking Re: The Ancient Threshing Circle

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5144-MQV0bU
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Old 10-08-2008, 06:23 AM   #9
Baggywrinkle
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Default Re: The Ancient Threshing Circle

Watch 15 year old Fairlight Vido making hay
http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...he&vt=lf&hl=en

Here she beats a man with a weed whip

http://www.scytheconnection.com/adp/...uro/index.html
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Old 10-08-2008, 06:35 AM   #10
doodah
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Default Re: The Ancient Threshing Circle

Thank you, Baggywrinkle. I enjoy your posts. These are the things we need to re-learn.

MMe M -- A willing spirit goes a long way. All it takes is willingness. I dread the idea of establishing community, then finding it populated by whiners! When this world is not functional any more, and we deal with what IS in the ways that it needs to be dealt with, whatever those ways are, willingness will be the greatest gift you can give to your community, along with your helping hand.

Last edited by doodah; 10-08-2008 at 06:39 AM.
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Old 10-08-2008, 06:51 AM   #11
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Default Re: The Ancient Threshing Circle

There is room in the shed for both the mower and the
scythe. I own the large DR field and brush mower. It has it's place. It can handle woody plants like scotch broom
better than a scythe. But it isn't any easier work, and far
more dangerous. Give me a pair of tree lopers and a
scythe any day. The work is far more pleasant. The scythe
rules in a simple overgrown grassy field. The grass can be
taller than you are. It doesn't matter. It is much easier
finding stumps and boulders using a scythe. Should you
hit one you don't fear catching it in the back of the head like you can with a bush hog or heaving it into the neighbors window with the brush mower.
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Old 10-08-2008, 08:39 AM   #12
MMe M
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Default Re: The Ancient Threshing Circle

Quote:
Originally Posted by doodah View Post
Thank you, Baggywrinkle. I enjoy your posts. These are the things we need to re-learn.

MMe M -- A willing spirit goes a long way. All it takes is willingness. I dread the idea of establishing community, then finding it populated by whiners! When this world is not functional any more, and we deal with what IS in the ways that it needs to be dealt with, whatever those ways are, willingness will be the greatest gift you can give to your community, along with your helping hand.

Do not think to lecture me on what is and what will be. You do not know and make your asumptions based on ignorance. I am not willing to establish a community with one who assumes, and determines before they have all the facts. There are progressive people and there are judgemental egotist who presume they know all.

You do not know what skills I posess, You dont know my knowledge for the old ways of doing things. I can make soap, know how to make lye, I can sew by hand, weave, can work wood without power, I know how to can smoke and store foods, I can be self sufficient. I prefer to find a solution that is progessive and foreward as opposed to going back in time. It is the logical next step. You do not know my spirit but feel it is your due to openly criticize me? I hapen to own a scythe, two actually, but prefer something that has blades encased and does not involve brandishing something that lethal about. Have you used one? No? Then by all means,DO NOT judge. fyi, I do not whine.
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Old 10-08-2008, 09:37 AM   #13
MMe M
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Default Re: The Ancient Threshing Circle

baggy, those tall weeds with hidden stumps your talking about? I use fire first. Works like a charm, shows all those hiddin wicked things. Then I use my mower.

If I cant get gas at the gas station, ill brew and distill some.

Last edited by MMe M; 10-08-2008 at 09:42 AM.
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Old 10-08-2008, 03:57 PM   #14
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baggy, those tall weeds with hidden stumps your talking about? I use fire first. Works like a charm, shows all those hiddin wicked things. Then I use my mower.

If I cant get gas at the gas station, ill brew and distill some.
My neighbors would b****

we aren't quite rural enough to get away with it.

My preferred method would be goats and hogs. Then the
work gets down while you sleep in, and you don't have
to micro manage them like you do a teenager
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Old 10-08-2008, 06:00 PM   #15
doodah
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Default Re: The Ancient Threshing Circle

MMe M -- I would ask you to accept my apology here. You obviously have many skills that would be very valuable in a community.

I have carried water every day for seven years. That is, I don't have running water in my house, a thing most people consider "going backward". In fact, most people think I'm crazy to live this way, so I rarely talk about it. I guess I'm just saying that it is possible to live with pre-modern conditions with no feeling of lack or want or wishing it were otherwise. Frankly, I am grateful that there is water here at all.

I am all for lightening our burdens when possible.
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Old 10-08-2008, 08:43 PM   #16
MMe M
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Quote:
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MMe M -- I would ask you to accept my apology here. You obviously have many skills that would be very valuable in a community.

I have carried water every day for seven years. That is, I don't have running water in my house, a thing most people consider "going backward". In fact, most people think I'm crazy to live this way, so I rarely talk about it. I guess I'm just saying that it is possible to live with pre-modern conditions with no feeling of lack or want or wishing it were otherwise. Frankly, I am grateful that there is water here at all.

I am all for lightening our burdens when possible.

Accepted.

We are all here to help each other. I may have sounded like im complaining but am really expressing the anguish I felt every time I saw my most cherished Grandfather and Grandmother come in from a long hard days work. Id have done anything short of murder to ease their load and this post just reminded me so strongly of them.

Please accept my appologies if I sounded harsh or whiney. I use an old wringer washer. I prefer it, it works so much better. People look at me the same way you described when I do share. You get no judgement from me, only a hope for an easier way if you choose. Peace to you my friend.
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Old 10-08-2008, 11:19 PM   #17
doodah
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Default Re: The Ancient Threshing Circle

Thank you, MMe M, accepted. I think we're clear now, we've both apologized to each other!

Well, I know what you're referring to re your grandparents. I grew up on a non-electric old fashioned farm in North Carolina. True, it was a harder life physically, and that's what those large families were about -- you needed a work force to grow the family's food! It's only us, the generations since the 1960s, who have gotten so soft. In my situation, I carry water as part of what I do every day without really thinking about it. I do laundry by hand and don't even have a wringer, but I wouldn't turn it down if someone handed me one!

When I said whiners I was thinking of people who would always be looking backward to this era we live in, which is just the tiniest pocket of about 60 years in the whole history of humankind. That's why I've found Baggywrinkle's info so helpful, helping to re-educate us to other ways of doing things.

Peace, M, no bad feelings here.
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Old 10-09-2008, 01:31 AM   #18
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Well, I know what you're referring to re your grandparents... True, it was a harder life physically

... to other ways of doing things.
I read somewhere about somebodies multi-generational
family farm. In the barn was a hoe that had seen duty
through three generations. It was worn down to a nub...
They had hoed this entire eighty acres of row crops for cultivation by hand...

I'm not suggesting that hard work become a religion.
Some of the old ways are dead and gone - good riddance.
But some of the old ways are elegant and
have not been improved on by "modern" technology.
If you do not know they exist you cannot use them when
you need them. If your combine does not work for lack
of parts what are your options to harvest the corn, a corn
knife and your two feet? What if you never heard about a
corn knife, what will you do then? Pull the corn all by hand?

Gene Logsdon didn't use a flail in his book about growing
your back yard wheat. He used his son's plastic baseball bat.
Another small holder uses his feet. These problems
have already been solved! Rather than tossing your wheat into the air
for the winnowing you might be very happy to build or buy a
fan mill if you can find one.

All scythes are not created equal ( so I am told).
The American scythe used by your grand fathers had a nickname.
It was called a misery whip! In contrast, the european scythe is a joy to use.
The american scythe is heavy and sharpened with a grind stone.
The european scythe is feather light and sharpened by peening.
That is also how it is made.
Talk about dying art! The european blade is only made
in a small area of eastern europe where they are still made by
black smiths using techniques which are centuries old! These blades are
works of art - each hand
made!

Thank heaven they are still there! This is a perfected technology.
If you think spending a day scything is bad what might doing the same task
stooped over with a grass sickle (if you have one) or some other less desirable
cutting instrument might be like. Talk about
misery whip!

Take Dilbert out of his office cubicle and set him in a field
with a knife "borrowed" from the kitchen. How long will he last?
How many times will he reinvent the wheel before he gets to the
point of working back up to the misery whip? If he lives so long!

Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it!
Up close and personal.

The collapse is happening folks. How far will we fall before it is over?
How deep is the abyss? Third world
is still light years away from stone age. That steel hoe
might look pretty high tech next to a deer horn hoe
such as was used by Buffalo Bird Woman only one
hundred years ago. Hate to break it to you, but you are
only a factory closure away from being back to that point!

WAKE UP!

Last edited by Baggywrinkle; 10-09-2008 at 01:34 AM.
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