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Thrash Day on the farm

Janet Chadband and Dennis Knight, 2013

Janet: Thrash day used to be, no combines, so when the harvest was brought in it was ricked up in the yard or out field and then in the Autumn we’d have a Thrash day.

Dennis: Bassett’s Thrashing set used to go to Sam Blake.

Janet: I can’t remember who used to come to us.

Dennis: Bassett he had a bleddy old Field Marshall Tractor and he used to start it with a cigarette. Old Mr Bassett he said this bleddy thing is tempermental he only likes Players, he won’t start on Woodbines. Well Field Marshall is a German tractor very low revving and so they have very constant torque and they would pull into a farm, tractor, combine and the bailer and a dilly cart, which is a little cart carrying all the oil and spare diesel and everything. All this lot trundling along the road and around the corners, sometimes they would put the dilly cart with something else but normally they’d pull the whole lot one behind the other. And they would pull into a farm at about 4 o’clock ready for next day. And they would start the tractor in the morning, there was this thing on the front, I don’t know if you have ever seen one (you’d see one at Royal Cornwall Show) and they’d undo it and get it red hot and light the fag, knock the ash off and then put the fag in this thing and then screw it back in the tractor. This day and age they call it a glow plug, you know when they start a diesel engine you turn the thing over and an orange light comes on and when it goes out you turn the key, well that’s what they used for a glow plug. They didn’t use Woodbines because Woodbines are thinner and they would fall off and that’s why they had Players because they were thicker. The fag just gave it enough heat to be able to swing the engine.

Janet: I don’t know what they did because I was indoors by the time all that started and my worse fear was that once the rick was opened it started to rain. Because we would have food all on the go indoors for about 25 people, because there was five of us indoors and then they would all have to stop if it rained.

Barbara – Interviewer: Where did all the help come from then for the harvest?

Dennis: Neighbouring farmers wasn’t it?

Janet: Well it would be the bloke who owned the machine and he would have often a few men with him and then casual labour from the Village, Horace Hillson was one.

Dennis: They had a proper little gang I mean you know Sam Blake would get hold of Horace and a few others, they would round each other up. Then when it was their harvest day you would go there. They sent one man, you took and sent one man and so it was.


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