Sunday, 29 July 2018

Wheat Field Conundrum Solved

One thing that puzzled me about wheat field harvesting with horse and reaper in the early 1900s was how the sides of the field were worked? Was a strip left unplanted or did the horses just walk through the wheat? With no answer to hand I simply planted the wheat to the fence line. No one who has read this blog or seen the layout at exhibition queried it.

Unexpectedly and recently, the answer came to me from reading Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles. In support of the story line Hardy described in great detail the landscape and working practice.

Whilst being a work of fiction I believe what he described in this respect is true. He described a wheat field that had been 'opened', meaning the wheat at the fence line was hand-cut a few feet wide for the horses to walk unhindered by the wheat (at the time the wheat variety would have been between 3 and 5 feet high).

Armed with a pair of sharp scissors, I cut the lanes and coloured the cleared ground appropriately with acrylic paints.

Conundrum solved!


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