chapter  4
8 Pages

Gleaning

The day labourer was a creation of the early years of the nineteenth century; upon his labour and the continuing peasant practice of family participation depended the successful gathering of the century’s harvests. This changed towards the close of the nineteenth century when the reaper-binder took over the early stages of harvesting which had previously provided the day labourers’ most lucrative work. Both family earnings and the number of day labourers declined. It was in the nineties that the erstwhile independent labourers or their sons finally deserted the countryside, and that a more modern pattern of farming based on hired labour, harvest machinery and the tied cottage began to emerge.