I WONDER if I may add a few words relating to the making hay photo in the Salisbury Journal on August 7.

The crop shown is not hay but is in fact a cereal crop of wheat or barley. This is a very long-stalk crop grown especially for its straw, which will be used for thatching. The grain itself is used in flour etc.

This would have been harvested by a machine called a sail binder, which ties the crop into sheaves.

These are then “stooked” to dry before being taken to a barn or made into a rick before being thrashed by a thrashing machine at a later date.

This is the way it used to be done which is time-consuming but does leave the straw undamaged for thatching purposes. It is now done by combine harvester in one complete operation and is much less labour-intensive.

Ted Austen,


I WAS delighted to see the field scene chosen for the ‘In Your View' picture published in the Salisbury Journal on August 7.

Although not a farmer, I'm certain it is not hay but sheaves of corn, cut and bound by a binder, and placed in stooks to dry until ready for threshing - a procedure replaced by the combine harvester almost 50 years ago.

Wonderful to see someone is still using the old method which provides straw suitable for thatching.

Thank you Paula Elliot for the nostalgic experience.

Geoffrey Herbert


IS there no one old enough in your office to tell the caption writer of the photo in this week’s ‘In Your View’ that the objects in the photo are stooks of corn sheaves, not haystacks?

The corn was cut by a binder, and the sheaves placed like the ones in the photo prior to being threshed.

The straw these days is probably being purchased by a thatcher for use on roofs.

Richard Langdon


THE photo depicts not hay but wheat and not haystacks but corn stooks.

In the days before combine harvesters, cereals were harvested by reaper/binders towed behind tractors or, before that, by horses.

The cereal was cut and bound into sheaves which were then stacked in stooks (by hand, eight per stook).

This kept the grain dry until it could be collected and taken back to the farmyard. There, it would be fed into a threshing machine, which separated the grain from the chaff and straw.

The combine harvester does all this in one operation but the resulting straw is too short for thatching so some farmers continue to use the old method to provide long straw for thatchers.

Stooks are a welcome sight for us oldies who grew up with the countryside covered with them during the harvest season.

Geoffrey Knollys