Animals People Machines

The gallery is a miscellany of animals people machines and building details.

Animals include cattle/oxen, chickens, ducks and geese, a pig and horses.

People include a milk girl and a milk woman with yoke, a countryman, a farrier, a reaper and threshers.

Machines include apple crushers / scratters and presses for cider-making; threshing machines, winnowers and reed combers; with people-powered and horse-powered variants of some of these. The horse-powered versions are far more complex and required a ‘horse engine’ unit.

Other tools and equipment includes two varieties of horse gig, a perambulator, a plough, a sowing fiddle, a seed lip, a meat smoker hanging rack, and a goose stuffer (now thought to be a chicken stuffer).

The following two paragraphs from Jo Cox, Devon Building Group (DBG), about the hand reed combers and the meat hangers illustrated in the gallery below, show how research can help us understand the development of agricultural technology:

‘Hand reed combers from Markstone Farm, Lifton, 1990. DBG members who attended the thatching conference at Ashburton will remember that the straw used for combed reed thatch has to be very carefully processed from field to roof. It had to be kept with the ears and butts all lying in the same direction and cleaned of any weeds and leaf that would encourage rot in the straw and obstruct water-shedding. Before the invention of the reed comber attachment to the belt-driven threshing machine a variety of devices were used for the cleaning process. Brian has recorded, bottom right, a hand-comb. A bundle of straw would be hung up and this comb simply dragged through it. Another piece of equipment for hand-combing is shown on the left. Here the comb was static and the straw was pulled through teeth attached to a wooden trestle. More straw could be pulled through the teeth at one go, speeding up the process.’

‘A meat-smoker or meat-hanger at Paize Farm, Sampford Courtenay, 1999. The meat was hung off hooks in a horizontal board in the chimney at first floor level, in a framed triple opening into a floorless cupboard in the stack with doors (not drawn). The board was suspended with pegs from two vertical planks (Brian was able to see one of these) secured with pegs to a crossbeam in the roofspace. Removable wooden hooks, made out of small hedgerow branches with thick twigs, average length 12”, were secured with removable pegs at the back of the board. The board, and some of the pegs (carefully measured and drawn) survived, but removed from the chimney. Brian shows the meat-smoker in context, in a hall stack backing on to a cross passage. He includes useful dating features, e.g. the stops on the hall cross beam. Judging from the details, the hall was floored in the 17th century and the meat-smoker probably built with the insertion of the hall floor.’

See the ‘Questions for Education and Research‘ page for more on this subject.

The tools and machinery illustrated in the gallery below are from various farms, including (the code in brackets is for picture titles):

Building details, a fire place and roof beams and trusses, come from:

  • The ‘Rumbling Tum’ restaurant, Bovey Tracey
  • Landford Farm
  • Paize Farm, Samford Coutenay