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In the stooks
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In the stooks

Not something you see very often nowadays - this is my father, David Miller, and older brother Jim in the stooks - from around 1956. Taken in Nigley, Evie, with Rousay in the background.
Picture added on 08 February 2010 at 11:05
True, I haven't seen your Dad very often recently, but I could bind sheaves and stook with the best of them (or at least the second-best of them) in my day. Regards, Ian.
Added by Ian Hourston on 09 February 2010
My mother is soon 94 and grew up on a farm in Ohio with only horse-drawn equipment. She said they had a binder for reaping the hay and corn. It is too difficult for her to explain it to me. I am sad that I never asked her earlier, but was hoping perhaps you could explain it to me. I have pictures of her with her doll in the shocks of hay that remind me of this picture of your father and older brother.

I would love any information that you have to offer.

Karren Porter California, USA
Added by Karren Porter on 04 March 2010
Karren, are you a relative of Bob Porter, who died in Moline ILL. in 1982?
Added by Fred Johnston. on 04 March 2010
'Binder' was short for 'reaping and binding machine' - a machine used for crops that were handled as bound 'sheaves' (before the advent of combine-harvesters). Hay wasn't handled that way and was cut by the binder's predecessor, the simple 'reaper' or, before that, a scythe or sickle. In Britain, a 'shock' is a 'stook' of sheaves - again something not associated with hay. Hay would be heaped up to dry in 'coles' (at least in Orkney - probably in 'cocks' elsewhere, particularly in England - but basically the same thing).
OK, it's too difficult for me to explain as well.
Added by Ian Hourston on 05 March 2010
Ian. I always thought that the person who invented the knotter on a binder was a genius. I tried to watch how it worked but couldn't work it out it was so fast. I even tried turning the throwing blades by hand and got some idea then but not exactly.
Added by Ian Cameron on 05 March 2010

Porter is my husband's family name, but I am not aware of the aforementioned deceased Bob. With so many Porters I'm sure there are several Bobs in the extended family, though. Both my husband's and my father (Green) claimed to be of Irish-English-Scotch descent, though. (Not sure if that is just a general idiom of the day or whether they did all mix it up way back then)Anyway most of America in the early 20th seemed to be of British descent. My mother's father was French, but her mother was a Heacock who's predecessor (a certain Jonathan) immigrated in the early 1700's before the [polite ahem] revolutionary war.

Hope that wasn't TMI.

Added by Karren Porter on 05 March 2010

Wonder if a hay cock is where my mother's mother's family name came from (Heacock)! Any way I think they were fairly modern with the binder since my mother was born in 1916, and Stewart's father appears to still be using it in 1956. My grandfather used 4 horses (whose names she can still remember), but I doubt there were as sturdy as what I see in Stewarts' picture. They grew three crops, wheat, hay, and corn. OK so it all looks like hay to me. It could have been wheat.(at least I know it wasn't corn!!!!)

So the machine cut the whole stems of the plant, which were bound into sheaves, which they stacked as shocks (stooks to you), correct?

By George, I think I've got it. Thanks, I think I actually learned something.

I cannnot explain my rather odd interest in these obscure facts, but apparently there are others with the same peculiarity.

Thanks for the response.

Added by Karren Porter on 05 March 2010
Just lookin at your brother with the short trousers and the rubber boots is making the backs of my legs sore. Red raw they used to get walking to school in the winter. Ouch.No school run in them days. Happy times 'NOT'
Added by W Watters on 06 March 2010
I mind when we had a binder when i was peedie. It was/had a 'teeth like' blade about 3 & 1/2 feet long that moved back and forth fast, the crop then fell onto a 'sheet' that was rolling round to bring in into bundles for tying. The bundles were then stooked up in the field to dry before being taken in and built into stacks in the 'stackyard' Usually the 'steith' onto which the stack was biult was stones with spaces between them for air to flow and this helped keep the base dry.
Added by Morag Shearer on 07 March 2010
I might be wrong,and yae might be surprised tae hear I have been wrong in a chance time!! bit wiz hid no a Shetland man by birth that invented the first knotter that was taken on by McCormack in the U S A? Anyone heard of it, or did I dream that one!!.
Added by John Budge on 08 March 2010
Sorry I have not replied to your request. I see you have already received some information. If you look at another picture I have (picture #23376) you will be able to see a picture of my father on a horse-drawn binder. It was taken in 1938. The picture of him and my brother in the stooks was taken ca. 1956, but by then we were using a tractor to pull the binder. Our binder was converted from the horse-drawn, independantly powered from the tractor. With the horse-drawn it could be difficult if the ground was wet as the machine was geared to the big central wheel. It was completely dependant on a steady forward movement from the horses.

The type of horses used in agriculture in Orkney was the Clydesdale, a Scottish draught horse. Although not as heavy as the Shire horse from England, they were known to be strong, athletic and gentle.

Hope this is of some value to you.

Added by Stewart Miller on 09 March 2010
Karren, welcome to the club for people who like obscure facts.

Apparently Heacock is the US equivalent of the British Haycock, so what could be more likely than that their joint origin lies in the hay and cock we have been discussing? Not so. Hay evidently comes from a personal name or nickname, and cock from cockerel or other male bird. Be that as it may, there will have been a few folk down the years who owe their origin to what went on in, or behind, a haycock.
Added by Ian Hourston on 10 March 2010
Hi John,
no yer no dreamin, for the kind o binder we had was a 'McCormack. That an the peedie 'grey fergie' was happy days. No sure who invented the knotter though.
Added by Morag Shearer on 11 March 2010

More than likely, although I don't know, all those Quakers were pretty straight-laced. Those Quakers kept good records of lineage, that is how I have been able to trace my grandmother's ancestry back to the 1600's before their emmigratin from England.

I'm seeing a few comments written in 'brough', dialect, or whatever the term may be. Can you tell me the definition of a "peedie"?

If anyone else wants to answer, that's OK.

Added by Karren Porter on 12 March 2010
Hello Karen,
The definition of the word 'peedie' means small.
Peedie bairn would be small child, peedie house would mean two or three rooms, peedie grain would be small helping of dinner etc.
Hope this has helped
Added by Morag Shearer on 12 March 2010
After a bit of searching I found that the Twine Knotter was invented by John Appleby in 1877.
Added by Neil Johnstone on 13 March 2010
Is no Google great? I fund this snippet o' information on the knotter o' the binder that might be o' interest. Cyrus McCormick had moved to Chicago, built a reaper factory, and founded what eventually became the International Harvester Company. In 1872 he produced a reaper which automatically bound the bundles with wire. In 1880, he came out with a binder which, using a magical knotting device (invented by John F. Appleby a Wisconsin pastor) bound the handles with twine.
Like you Ian, as a peedie boy I tried to see ho' the knotter worked, am no a peedie boy anymore, bit I still don't ken.
Karren Porter, "peedie" means small.

Added by PRICE SINCLAIR on 14 March 2010
Since no-one else has answered Karren, I'll have another go. 'Peedie' is an adjective widely used in Orkney (even among incomers who soon adopt it). It means 'small', 'little'. A peedie bairn; I'll be back in a peedie while; etc. An alternative, and actually older, form is 'peerie', now tending to die out - though not in Shetland I believe, where 'peedie' never caught on. In Orkney peedie is never used as a noun.
In other parts of Scotland, a 'peerie' is/was a small wooden top that could be kept spinning by whipping it. In the immortal words of Scotland's great bard, Jimmy Logan:
Sae we'll birl awa' like peeries
Or a wheen o' whigmaleeries,
Wauchlin' hame frae Auchtermuchty in the mornin'.
(NB birl = spin; whigmaleeries = wraiths; wauchlin = staggering/stumbling)
I haven't come across the term 'brough dialect'. Broad dialect yes, even rough dialect sometimes. Maybe if someone's manner of speech is both broad and rough . . ? No, I don't think so.

Added by Ian Hourston on 14 March 2010
Thanks to all of you for the enlightenment.

Ian: I was struggling with which term to use "brough" or "dialect", never meat it to be one term. But AHA! I DID make a spelling error.
Please change that "brough" to brogue, as in dialect or regional pronunciation. Perhaps that will clear things up without being too broad or rough.

I may have struggled a bit through Robert Burns, some of Lewis Carrol, and even a bit of Tennyson, but I have never had the pleasure of struggling through Jimmy Logan.

Sounds like Jimmy could be Irish, or at least have acquired some Irish traits. You know, with the name Logan and all not to mention what sounds like an all nighter going on at Auchtermuchty.

Perhaps you'd like to translate?

I once knew a woman from Liverpool (no this isn't a start of a limerick). It took a bit of adapting, but we finally understood each other.

Then there is the American South!

And...(this is the last)how do you keep a top spinning by whipping it? It makes me laugh to picture it.

Added by Karren Porter on 14 March 2010
The ingenious knotter didn't always work, and the binder would throw out the odd loose sheaf. These had to be bound by hand. When 'roads' were opened by scythe, to let the binder into the field, there would be lots of crop (usually oats) to bundle and hand-bind, using the crop stalks themselves for binding. The stalks weren't long enough to wrap round a decent-sized sheaf, so the trick was to turn a handful of stalks into two bundles joined at the neck to make a long enough band to go round, with enough spare to twist into a kind of knot at the other side. The speed with which old hands could do this was impressive. Beginners' efforts usually fell apart as soon as they were lifted.
Added by Ian Hourston on 14 March 2010
I was at the Dorset Steam Fair a couple of years ago where they had a few old thrashing mill etc.on display with proper sheaves from a binder.
I was delighted to discover that I could still tie a sheaf by hand. I thought that having lived in the south of England for 48 years I would have forgotten.
As they say,"Old habbits die hard".
Added by PRICE SINCLAIR on 15 March 2010
I'm going back to the peedie thing. Wondering if that is where we got the idiomatic word "bitty" as in itty bitty, or possibly itsy bitsy, which we use for very small things, even tiny things. And what happened to wee sma'?

[I must bring in 'totty peedie' at this point! - Steven]
Added by Karren Porter on 15 March 2010
Jimmy Logan (real name James Short) wasn't noted as a bard. I made that up - though I think he did write the piece of doggerel I quoted. He was a Scots comedian and actor, who (unlike his idol Harry Lauder) made no impression in the US, so it's not surprising you never encountered his work. His Scots-born aunt Ella Logan, whose stage-surname he adopted, and his sister Annie Ross were singer-actresses who certainly did make it in America, to which they emigrated. Annie was probably best known for her work with the jazz vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, some of whose records (eg Four Brothers) were huge hits. Jimmy Logan died of cancer 9 years ago.

As for whipping tops: you set the top spinning by winding the lash of your whip round and round it, then cracking the whip. The top would fly out and hopefully land spinning in a suitable place. When it showed signs of wobbling, you gave it a flick with your whiplash to spin it up again. Naturally, the flick had to be in the the same direction as the initial spin. Skilled exponents could keep their top spinning indefinitely.
(These comments have come a long way from stooking oats in Evie.)

Added by Ian Hourston on 15 March 2010
Yes, Price. Binding sheaves by hand was a real knack as was tying a windlin. I heard about a farm where they sold windlins (bundles) of straw and the boy of the family got a penny for his efforts but the lass could only tie peedie windlins so she only got a ha'penny for hers.
Anonymous comment added on 17 March 2010
Far as they (the comments) may have evolved, I am still getting a view of the culture there which may be of some merit-especially to this native-born Californian.

So, if I can picture a young lad in knee pants and woolen sox (maybe knee-hi rubber boots that make the backs of his legs sore), maybe a well-worn Glen plaid or tweed jacket, kneeling on one knee whilst he whips and flicks a top, I can see that all boys are basically the same no matter in what culture they are grown--They all like things that move fast and make noise--and guess what! It still makes me laugh.

Here's to Stewart and his binder and all,
and the stooks of oats in Evie.

And here is to full pages of comments made for all to see.

Here's to Mr. Short AKA Logan and the night at Auchtermuchty.

Thanks to all ye gentlemen and this rather rambling repartee.

Added by Karren Porter on 18 March 2010
When I was growing up, ? years ago, it was only girls who played with tops and whips. Boys wouldn't be seen dead with one!
Added by Hazel Malpass on 18 March 2010
Girlstops and whips.
I think we should start a new thread don't you???
Added by PRICE SINCLAIR on 19 March 2010
Along with the hackid legs we wore corduroy zip up, what would probably now called bomber, jackets and on a cold day a war surplus flying helmet. The woollen socks did not come to the top of the boots so the canvas inside the rubber boot hacked your leg. Walking 1/2 a mile to school in the rain was no fun.Tweed jackets were just for the gentry and tartan was for tourists.
Added by W Watters on 19 March 2010
Well there goes that image. When I was growing up, girls played jump-rope, jacks, and hop-scotch. I have no idea what the boys were doing. And as for my generalization, I am only going by my little boys who, from my female perspective were a constant source of amazement. Nice to hear from another female, Hazel.

How did you happen to be reading the Orkney Image Library?
Added by Karren Porter on 19 March 2010
Hi Karren, I look at it every day - a wonderful site. My mother was a Findlay from Houton and I have been visiting Orkney regularly since 1942. I have lots of her photos which I will get round to downloading one of these days.
Added by Hazel Malpass on 22 March 2010
I have some exciting (to me, anyway) news about the binder on my mother's farm. I just heard from my mother's first cousin. They are the only ones from their generation still alive, but he is about 10 years younger than my mother. He said he used to help his Uncle Phillip (my mother's father)a lot on the farm, and one of the things he got to do was work the peddles on the binder. He had problems, though because he was so little it was hard to push the peddles allthe way down. Their binder tied the sheaths automatically, so no fancy tying tricks. AND it was oats not hay, so now we have the facts straight.

How about that?
Added by Karren Porter on 22 March 2010
Does anyone have the complete lyrics to Wauchlin' Hame?
Added by Bob Paine on 24 December 2014
To add to Ian Hourston's hand tying, or 'bindan' sheaves....crofters, with small fields and no fencing, a gale of wind mixed up all the sheaves, so to recognise their own sheaves each crofter used a different knot. Two that I knew were 'soos tail' & 'the bend'.

Added by Tommy G on 12 February 2015
That's something I never heard of Tommy G! At harvest-time friends and relatives would join together to help each other out in what could be quite short suitable 'weather windows'. I did notice that at least a couple of different 'knots' were in use, but I never heard that they were specific to particular farms or families. My own knot was based on my aunt's (my uncle wold be on the binder) but was, initially at least, known as 'the knot that fell apart if you weren't careful'.
Added by Ian Hourston on 16 February 2015
As I write, I see no-one has come up with an answer to Bob Paine's request. It's unlikely many folk would know the song by heart, and those that own recordings of it (by Kenneth McKellar, Fulton & Milroy, et al) are either not viewers of OIL or can't be bothered to transcribe the song. I tried to Google it many times and though I found numerous opportunities to buy a recording (incidentally, none by Jimmy Logan) I can't find the lyric itself anywhere. Which is probably why you asked in the first place Bob. Incidentally, the preferred spelling seems to be Wachlin Hame.
Added by Ian Hourston on 16 February 2015
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