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Straw in the fields and what's not new!

Saturday 15 September 2012

Changing times: Stookie ropes

At a time of the year when the fields are full of freshly made, golden bales of straw, it is interesting to remember what we did before the bale was invented.  

In one of our sheds, we still have neatly tied bundles of Stookie Ropes, hanging in the place they were put probably some three quarters of a century ago.  These natural ropes, often dipped in bitumen (pitch) to prolong their life, were thrown over the stacks of straw or hay and weighted down.  They kept the stooks in good order until they could be collected for storage through the winter in the barn.

Although knotting reapers were invented in the 1870's, it was not until 1936 that the first machine we might recognise as a baler was invented.  Since then balers have got bigger and have moved from producing square bales to round bales ... and many now produce very large square bales again!  

It is a long way from the neat bundles of stookie ropes you can see in this picture, but the hard work and dedication shown to get food from the field to the barn has remained the same and it is a rare sunny day in late summer than you won't see farmers busy in the fields, harvesting, baling, ploughing or sowing next years crop. 


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