Threshing was the hardest day’s work in the farming year for the men, and the women on the farm were busy all day preparing meals for them. Tea 9am, dinner 12 midday, tea 3pm, supper 5.30pm. Huge pans of soup or mince and tatties were prepared for dinner and the meals in the farm house kitchen were happy occasions.

The knowledge of a supply of a good chaff (caff) attracted fishermen’s wives from Avoch who carried it away in enormous “caff sacks” on their backs, to be used in caff beds at home and in the fishing boats,

threshingmillsThe threshing mills used on farms near Avoch were operated by Mr Hercher (Newhall) shown at Insch Farm here (left), or by Mr Willie Munro and Mr Roddy Munro, Resolis.

Two men took the mill to the farm and carefully put it in position on an evening towards the end of the year. Early next morning the steam engine fire was lit with straw and when steam was raised with coal, the noise and smoke of the engine filled the air.

A team of at least 12 men was needed for a successful thresh, and required the cooperation of neighbours.

One or two men forked sheaves from the stack, two men or women “lowsed” the twine on these and handed them to the man who fed the mill. This was the most dangerous job, requiring total concentration (the two mill men shared this work). Two or three men carried away the one and half hundredweight bags of grain across the yard and up the steps to the granary, all day long, while four men were involved in taking away the straw and building a large stack (sow). Another man dealt with the chaff, while one ensured a steady supply of coal and water for the engine.



Half-yoke for Mr W Munro and squad at Ness Farm, Fortrose (about 1930)


Threshing at Gordon’s Mills, Balblair, 1940s


Steam engine and threshing mill, on the road


Steam engine and threshing mill on Eathie Road on the way to a farm. This must have been one of the last to make such a journey.


W and K Munro at the Aberdeen show


Mr W Munro at Newmills


Mr W Munro at Bay Farm