Here is a photograph of my mother, Eleanor Quinn, in a corn field in the late 1950s. This was taken on the family farm at Carrydarragh, just outside Moneymore.
Corn fields were just a little before my time.
I do recall the old reapers, some still functional – laying around in the barn – and have some very vague memories of sheaves of corn in a few fields.
Fields of Gold
There were plenty of scythes in my time. Indeed, before tractors came along, scythes were used to cut a field of grain. The men would typically work around the field clockwise, starting along the outside and finishing up in the middle of the field. Scything resulted in the seed-heads being more or less aligned. Those were then picked up by the farmer and his workers, and tied into sheaves.
They would use other cut stems as ties, to keep the sheaves together.
The farmer’s team of workers then would stand the sheaves up in stooks to dry. You can see the stooks in the photo at the top of this page.
Between three and eight sheaves would make up a stook. This structure formed a self-supporting A-frame. The grain-heads were at the top of the stook.
The grain was therefore well off the ground, well ventilated, and able to dry. When partially dried, the sheaves of corn would be then loaded onto a cart and usually placed in a farm barn for further drying (or sometimes built into a big thatched stack).
In the late 1950s photo above, I imagine mum’s family used a tractor to pull a reaper, to cut the corn. But maybe they still used a horse to pull the reaper. She did sometimes speak of their horse, Barney. He is in one of her old photos – which I have been unable, this week, to set my hands on.
To get an idea of how corn/grain was reaped, I have added a few videos near the bottom of this page.
Moneymore Young Farmers
Here’s a wonderful old photo of my grandfather, William Neely Quinn. He died in September 1974, so I am guessing this newspaper clipping is from the 1960s. This is a clipping that my mum had saved.
Some Related Videos