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Greece, receiving the art of agriculture as a heritage from Egypt, had similar forms, as did also the Jewish nation. Since ancient times, the Chinese and Japanese have reaped with an implement resembling the sickle.
All sickles were used with one hand only. The grain was not
DIFFERENT FORMS OF EARLY SICKLES AND SCYTHES As lettered above: a. Egyptian sickle; b. sickle of the middle ages; s, smooth
edged sickle; c. toothed sickle; d. early form of scythe; e. Hainault scythe and hook.
always bound in sheaves. One man could bind what six reapers cut, using "corn” for binding. A reaper cut an average of one acre per day. Brewer, however, states that in England in 1844 seven persons usually cut one to one and one-half acres in ten hours. Besides being still widely used in China and Japan, the sickle is also a common implement among the Russian peasants, and in Sicily. The first wheat raised in the Red river valley in America was cut with sickles and bound with willow withes by women and children.
The Scythes and Cradles are all used with both hands. They evolved from the sickle and form the second class of reaping appliances. The Hainault scythe, a Flemish implement, was a form intermediate between the sickle and scythe. It had a wide blade about 2 feet long. The handle, about a foot in length, was held in the right hand, and had a leather loop into which the forefinger was inserted. The handle also had a flat part which projected against the wrist, and served to keep the blade in a horizontal position. The left hand, aided by a hook, gathered the grain. The early scythes were clumsy and heavy. They had straight handles, and were used for cutting grass
1 Rogers, Hist. Agr, and Prices, Eng., 5:53.
First Cen. of Repub., p. 176.
only. As the scythe evolved, the blade became lighter and the handle passed through many forms before it permanently assumed the crooked wooden pattern. When fingers were fastened to the snath to assist in collecting the grain into bunches or gavels, the scythe became a cradle. The latter implement was perfected in America during the last quarter of the eighteenth century.
The scythe seems to have appeared first among the ancient Romans. Before 1850, the scythe or cradle and the sickle were the implements almost universally used in harvesting grain. The perfected American cradle spread rapidly to other coun
AN EARLY CRADLE
A MODERN CRADLE
tries, but not without opposition. In England such violent opposition developed at Essex that the farmers were "deterred from the practice." The scythe and cradle are still frequently found in use in Russia and in various other parts of Europe. They are also found in America under conditions which render other implements impracticable. Within fifty miles of New York City are farms on which the grain is still reaped with the cradle. Brewer gives 112 acres a day as the amount of grain cradled in this country by one man. It required two others to rake, bind and “stook” it. Others say 4 acres a day could be cradled by a good worker while another raked and bound it.
The Header.-All reaping devices thus far considered have aimed at mechanical advantages alone. All of those subsequently discussed endeavor, not only to extend and improve the mechanism of the machine so that it will perform perfectly each and every operation connected with harvesting, but also to apply a power that will operate the machine. Under headers are included all machines that are designed to gather only the heads of the wheat, leaving the straw in the field. Such machines are of two kinds; stripping and cutting headers. The former has the distinction of being the first grain gathering which have a practical use and value under conditions similar to those which existed on the plains of Gaul. Toward the close
machine mentioned in history. It was used by the farmers of Gaul as early as the time of Christ. Pliny described it. A series of lance-shaped knives was fastened into one end of a large-bodied, two-wheeled cart. An animal yoked behind the cart pushed it through the grain. After the heads of the wheat were stripped from the stalks by the knives or teeth, they were raked into the box-like frame by an attendant. Palladius gives a similar account of the machine in the fourth century.
After being used during hundreds of years, the Gallic header disappeared, and it seems to have been completely forgotten for several centuries. Only through literature did it escape the fate of permanent oblivion and become a heritage for the modern world. The published descriptions of the machine by Pliny and Palladius furnished the impulse in which modern harvesting inventions originated. Its distinctive features are retained in several modern inventions of this class, machines
conditions in England, on account of increasing competition and the higher value of labor, were ripe for the movement of invention that was heralded by the printed account of the Gallic header. The first header was constructed by William Pitt in 1786. It was an attempted improvement on the ancient machine in that the stripping teeth were placed in a cylinder which was revolved by power transmitted from the wheels. This “rippling cylinder' carried the heads of wheat into the box of the machine, and gradually evolved into the present day reel.
Nearly all of the principles involved in the header seem to have been developed mainly in connection with other machines, such as the reaper and combined harvester, in connection with which they will be discussed. Before 1823 only four inventors of harvesting machinery placed the power in front of the machine. This involves either a side cut or driving the power through the grain. On account of the great width of cut in the header the side cut would give great side draft, and as there is nothing to counterbalance this, all headers are propelled in front of the power. Omitting minor details, the evolution of the header was completed in Haines' celebrated machine of 1849, which was widely known as the “Haines Illinois harvester.” It was thoroughly successful, and was practically the same as the machine of today.
The modern header has a cutter with a reciprocating and advancing rectilinear motion; the reel brings the grain upon a traveling canvas apron which delivers it to an elevating apron on one side, and this in turn discharges it into the header-box placed upon a wagon driven along with the machine; it has a swiveled steering wheel, operated by a suitable tiller; and an evener, to which the four or six animals are hitched, is pivoted forward of the steering whcel. The header ordinarily clips the stalks a few inches below the heads of the grain, but it can be run very low for lodged or short grain. It saves binding and shocking, but it is essential for the wheat to be dry before it is cut, as it must immediately be either threshed or stacked. If slightly damp, green, or weedy, it cannot be threshed at once,