Westham Island Herb Farm is part of my family’s farm (the Ellis Farm) on Westham Island. Our family has been farming in Delta for well over a century and have been at the present location since 1916. I’ll tell you more detail about our history soon and hope you enjoy a small selection of historic photos from our family’s photo album.
During the early days of farming in Delta grains would be cut by hand using a scythe and later by an implement called a cradle scythe. The advantage of the cradle scythe was that it was able to support the cut oat stalks in a cradle and lay them into neatly organized piles. These would be collected and hand tied into sheaves and stacked within the field in shocks. After the invention of a “binder” the hand tying of sheaves was no longer necessary. The binder was pulled by horses and would cut and automatically bind the oats into sheaves all in one pass. Later tractors would pull often the same horse drawn binders to cut and bind oats. The sheaves would be thrown up onto wagons and transported to threshing machines that would beat the grain from the stalks and divert the grain into a chute that would be directed into burlap bags. The images above show the threshers in action. The bags full of oats would be hand tied and stacked in preparation for shipping.
By the late 1940’s and early 1950’s the invention of mobile threshers made binding of oats obsolete. Grains would be cut by swathers and picked up by tractor drawn separators that would separate grain from stalks and deposit grain into trucks. In the mid 1950’s combines were developed that could cut and thresh grains all in one easy operation. The binders and threshers of the past were doomed.
After peas were cut they would be moved by wagon or truck to “pea vining” stations. Some farms had their own machines but usually they used co-operative stations set up by vegetable processors. The pea pods would be stripped from the vines and then shipped to canning operations. Today, large combines will cut, thresh and load peas (and beans) in one operation and deliver them to processing plants within hours of being cut.