Wednesday, 14 January 2015
The oats were ripe around this time and ready for cutting. Oats were important – like potatoes, the main food of the people. When the corn (oats) was ripe the men cut it with hooks and tied it into sheaves, long enough to handle.
It was then stoked, six to eight sheaves standing on end, supporting each other. The stooks were left in the field for a time before they were brought into the haggard and stores in stacks and covered.
Threshing was an unbelievable feat of endurance. The barn was cleared and the flagged floor scrubbed clean. Neighbours who knew the art of wielding a flail commenced. The flail was made of two strong sticks tied together at one end with leather. The sheaves were put into the centre of the floor in bundles of five or six. Each man wielded the flail in turn until the oats were separated from the straw.
The oats went into sacks and the straw for thatching. It was the work of a few nights. Next came the winnowing – getting rid of the chaff. It would have to be a special sort of day for this work with the wind blowing."
-- Memories of Kathleen Sheehan, growing up in County Cavan circa 1920. Recorded in the book No Shoes in Summer.