Your stories are amazing - as we read them we feel we are there with the men
winnowing the grain.
Another important use for those eel skins, but such hard labour - those
threshing machines mush have been a blessing when they were finally
Have not heard of Weils Disease, must look it up on our friend google.
From: Viola Wiggins [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, 30 April 2015 7:27 PM
To: Dee Byster-Graham; fermanagh-gold(a)rootsweb.com
Subject: Eel skin uses.
In ancient times, before machinery was introduced for threshing, Corn or
other Grain crops was threshed by using Flails.
These were pieces of round sticks, usually Ash, about a yard or so long had
a dried Eel skin attached at each end.
The corn Sheaves were laid on a cloth to catch the grain and chaff.
Two people, standing oposite each other, operated two Flails by using them
to beat the sheaf head winding the Flails like skipping ropes. alternating
the sticks weilded by the two persons.
The Straw would be lifted aside and the next sheaves Threshed.
After that operation was completed the grain and chaff would be 'Winnowed'
by being put on a sheet of tin or a tray and tossed into the air allowing
the wind to blow the light chaff away but the heavier grain would fall back
onto the tray..
Very labour intensive.
Threshing machines, operated by, in our cast a Lister petrol engine, did all
that in one operation The sheaves were opened, spread out, and fed in grain
end first, by men on a platform at the back of the Thresher.
The clean straw was delivered by paddles at the front of the Thresher, the
chaff was blown out to the right, and the Grain came down a chute into bags
on the left.
It always seemed to me like Magic how each was delivered in each place. The
Chaff was also bagged to bed the Duck house because they were such messy
individuals. Never layed in nests only on the floor of their house so the
Chaff kept the eggs clean.
Threshing day was always an exciting day because people came to help and
they brought their dogs of various mongrel breeds but considered "Good
As the Corn stack got near the bottom the Dogs surrounded it and any Rats,
which might have nested beneath the Stack, would bolt out, but were
despatched by the dogs before they could escape. It was necessary to keep
the Rat population down on a farm because what they did not attack and eat
they contaminated. A serious deisease called Weils Disease was carried by
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