Neighbouring


For most of the farming year, the work was carried out by the farmer with the help of his own family and any labourers he may have employed. At particular times of the year, however, a farmer would have to call on his neighbours for assistance and he in turn would help them. ‘There was what they called neighbouring’, explained Cahal Boyd, ‘You helped the man next door and then he helped you.’

The term used by Roddy Gribbin for this was ‘morrowing’. Especially during the harvest upwards of half a dozen men might have been required for a particular task.

Owen Gribbin describes working on a thresher:

On the thresher there had to be a couple of boys forking, two men feeding the thresher, a man taking away the grain and maybe a couple of men taking away the straw and building it – so it had to be a neighbourly thing.

In addition to offering labour, farmers would also borrow horses or machinery from their neighbours. Derek Lorimer points out that his family owned two horses and as three were needed for the binder so a horse would have to be borrowed from a neighbour – in return they would have cut their neighbour’s corn. Cahal Boyd recalled that they did not have a horse of their own and so if they needed a horse, they borrowed one from a neighbour. This horse was used to bring the turf home or harrow the field for corn. There also a friendly rivalry between farmers. With reference to the farmers around Toome, John Cushinan pointed out: ‘The farmers years ago, they were very, very jealous of each other.’ The sight of a farmer cutting a field of hay could prompt his neighbours to do likewise. John also commented that farmers liked to outdo each other. In his words, they were ‘acting like weans’.
South Antrim Living Memories Project wishes to acknowledge the assistance of: