Oats are a fickle crop. The days when it must be harvested are short, for the grain must be ripe enough not to spoil, and yet not so ripe that it will fall off the stem as its cut.
They don't eat the oats themselves. Strictly for horses and pigs.
Starting early, relatives and children are asked to help. A handful has to be grasped so as not to escape, then the short sickle cuts the stems. Backbreaking work, but there's no other way, except to hire a combine, and only the really old or really wealthy spend money on something they could do themselves.
The grain must be dried before being threshed. They use long poles driven into the ground and shored up with pieces of wood.
Each bundle must be wrapped by hand.
And gently lifted into place so as not to shake the grains loose.
These stacks will remain in the field for up to two weeks, until they're judged dry enough to take to the water wheel threshing mill.
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