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Harvest time
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Harvest time

Paul writes:
'I won't show my complete ignorance of farming by trying to say what exactly is going on in this photo. All I know for certain is that the figure in the cap, collar and tie is my grandfather, James Flett, and so that should roughly date it to about 1910. I do not know any of the others, nor where the picture was taken, nor why the woman in the middle seems to have a fork handle growing out of the top of her head. Maybe somebody will recognise people or place.'

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Picture added on 04 November 2005
Have just come across this delightful picture. Don't know what's going on either; not a lot I'd say, apart from posing. The two women (and perhaps your grandad, though he's not dressed for serious harvesting) seem to be holding bands for sheaves. The man drinking is probably holding the fork behind the woman's head (nice hat). He looks a bit of a joker. What I love is the mutual trust shown between people and horses - a peedie bairn on each back and a lad kneeling in front. It's hard to make out what the horses are yoked to. If it's a 'binder', then the hand-tying of sheaves would be necessary only for 'opening roads' to let the binder in. If it's just a reaper - by no means every Orkney farm would have had a binder in 1910 - the whole crop would be hand tied, with bands made from the crop itself; a laborious task made more lightsome by having everybody at it. The dexterity acquired by old hands was impressive.
Incidentally, your grandad hardly looks like the same man as the one in picture #25063.
Added by Ian Hourston on 29 April 2011
With a 'binder' there was no hand tying. That is a mower or reaper.
The person between the horses would have been sitting on the seat of the mower.
Added by Jim G. on 04 May 2011
this is a two horse reaper. It usually needed two people to work it . The second one would be the man holding the handle of the tilting rake [not a fork]. He also sat on the reaper andformed the sheaves and dropped them off when he thought they were the correct size
Added by Jim Cooper on 06 May 2011
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