Blaker Family of Sussex - Reminiscences


Leashing, or Gleaning.

THE reaping machine at the present time cuts the corn and ties it up in sheaves, and very few ears are lost and left on the ground; but in former days when corn was cut with the swap-hook, and still more when it was reaped, a large number of ears were left, and as soon as the last sheaf was in the waggon, the villagers, chiefly the women and children, began gleaning or leasing, as it was generally called. In fine weather leasing was a very pleasant occupation; they took their food with them and remained in the field from early morning till evening. The village National School was always closed during harvest so that the children might assist. The wheat collected was threshed and sent to a local mill to be ground, and the flour, which in some families amounted to several bushels, was an important item during the winter. One cannot help looking back with regret at the disappearance of numberless windmills and watermills and other industries which provided employment for numbers of men, and which, owing to the heavy taxation, and other burdens on the land, and the free import of agricultural produce (much of the is latter being of inferior quality and adulterated, and, therefore, unwholesome, especially for children), have rendered everything connected to agriculture unremunerative, and have, to a large extent, reduced the rural population, which has, migrated into the towns.

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