chapter  5
5 Pages

The coming of the machine

Mechanical aids to harvesting were slow to be accepted in English agricultural practice, and the extensive use of hand tools continued right up to the end of the century. The mechani­ cal reaper was the first to come into general use, from the 1870s, but was by no means universal even at the turn of the century. On many a smaller farm the nails on a barn wall or the corner of some shed might still have accommodated the tools of harvesting.101 But by the 1880s all the aids of modern machine harvesting (with the exception of the combineharvester) were in production. The self-sheaving reaper-binder (with the problem of an efficient knotting device finally solved) was now available.102 Farmers had also the choice of a variety of horse-drawn machines, quite apart from the mechanical reaper. Mowers, ‘kickers’, ‘tedders’ and ‘swathe turners’ for tossing and turning the hay, horse-rakes to windrow and rake the fields clean, stacking machines and elevators, all worked by horse power, were by now commonplace and ‘all but sufficiently perfected to prove a boon’.103