Binders

Binders

OK, I know that correctly the piece of agricultural kit that both cut corn and tied it up into bundles was called a reaper-binder. In my experience, though, the fact that they reaped or cut the crop was taken as read. They were always called binders.

I associate them, very much, with ‘camp’.

Back in the early and mid-50s the sight of a binder working the fields with men following and stoking up the sheaves was commonplace. To me, as a child, it was timeless. As a child you imagine that things are as they always have been so to me a tractor hauling a binder with a crew of two must always have been what happened. I did know that historically, horses had provided the motive power but that was before my time and I probably guessed that it might have been alongside the Stone Age, rather than having been the norm for my dad.

However, the future was with us, and I remember my brother and me dashing up to the top of the downs to see a new-fangled combine harvester at work. My dad, sensible as ever, recorded the binder scene and here we have one of his charming photos.

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So, a classic scene from 1955. Driving the tractor was a young man called Julian Freeman.

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The farm we camped on was managed by his uncle Dick and he normally managed the controls of the binder, but on this occasion, I don’t think it is him.

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In fact I really don’t know who that is. Julian’s father, George would have been helping at the harvest and his other uncle, Harry would have been around as well. But this isn’t either of them.

As the fifties drew to a close, the binders began to get swept into oblivion. My dad, realising this had another go at recording the scene at ‘camp’ using a colour slide film.

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This was actually in 1964. Julian is still on the tractor but this time it definitely is Dick Freeman on the binder.

But the binder never quite died. In Wiltshire, where I have lived all my adult life, a few farmers grow long straw wheat and cut it with a binder. This keeps the straw in good order, and after the grain has been threshed out, the straw can be sold for thatching

So here we have a 21st century binder resting after harvesting a local field.

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One Response to “Binders”

  1. The Firle Calendar – 2001 | Locksands Life Says:

    […] The other person I knew was Julian Freeman. In fact he has featured before on this blog (click here). […]

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