Threshing floor

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A threshing floor on Sao Jorge Eira junto a um Moinho de Vento, Santa Rosa, Calheta, ilha de Sao Jorge, Acores.JPG
A threshing floor on São Jorge
A threshing floor in Santorini in Greece. Threshing place, Santorini, Greece.jpg
A threshing floor in Santorini in Greece.
Russian women using a hand powered winnowing machine in a barn. Painting by K.V. Lebedev, The Floor, 1894 Lebedev Gumno 1894.jpg
Russian women using a hand powered winnowing machine in a barn. Painting by K.V. Lebedev, The Floor, 1894
Threshing and bagging grain in Germany in 1695 Fotothek df tg 0007706 Landwirtschaft ^ Getreideanbau ^ Dreschen ^ Lagerung.jpg
Threshing and bagging grain in Germany in 1695

Threshing (thrashing) was originally "to tramp or stamp heavily with the feet" and was later applied to the act of separating out grain by the feet of people or oxen and still later with the use of a flail. [1] A threshing floor is of two main types: 1) a specially flattened outdoor surface, usually circular and paved, [2] or 2) inside a building with a smooth floor of earth, stone or wood where a farmer would thresh the grain harvest and then winnow it. Animal and steam powered threshing machines from the nineteenth century onward made threshing floors obsolete. The outdoor threshing floor was either owned by the entire village or by a single family, and it was usually located outside the village in a place exposed to the wind.


Work on the threshing floor in Gumuara (Ethiopia) Threshing in Gumuara.jpg
Work on the threshing floor in Gumuara (Ethiopia)

Structure of outdoor floors

Outdoor threshing floors are usually located near a farm or farmhouse, or in places easily accessible from growing areas. They are usually paved with material that may be of various kinds, for example round stone cobbles about the size of a fist; slate; tile; or sometimes the underlying bedrock itself is exposed. Unpaved earthen threshing floors are also sometimes found. The floors usually have a slight slope, to avoid water standing on them after rain; and the paving may be divided by rays traced from a central focus to facilitate the pavement.

To overcome possible unevenness, and isolate them from water running off after rain so helping to preserve them, threshing floors are often surrounded by a stout low wall. The construction was often in a high place, to take advantage of soft and steady winds to facilitate the work of winnowing, separating the grain from the chaff, once the threshing had been completed.

Structure of indoor floors

Threshing Floor by Alexey Venetsianov, 1821-1823 Venetsianov Threashing Floor.jpg
Threshing Floor by Alexey Venetsianov, 1821-1823

The central bay of a barn was the typical location of the threshing floor. [3] Some large barns have two or even three threshing floors. [4] The floors in barns may be packed dirt, stone, or a tightly fitted wood. To keep the grain from falling out the open doorway(s) a board was sometimes placed across the doorway called a threshold, but the term threshold was originally the floor itself [5] or well foot-worn floor boards. [6] Threshing in barns was mostly done by hand with a flail until threshing machines became available in the 19th century. The harvest could be stored in the barn and threshed during the winter. Barns may have a granary room or a separate granary building may have been used to store the threshed crop.

A unique barn feature in some barns in parts of the northeast United States, called a swing beam, was designed for animals to walk in circles around a pole inside the barn pulling a device to thresh the grain instead of using a flail. [7] The farm family could use the barn to their advantage in winnowing by standing in a doorway where a slight breeze is magnified by the wind passing around the building. Some barns had smaller winnowing doors [8] to the rear of the threshing floor to concentrate the breeze even more than the big barn doors.


A horse pulling a threshing-board on a threshing floor Trilla ElToro.jpg
A horse pulling a threshing-board on a threshing floor

Sheaves of grain would be opened up and the stalks spread across the threshing floor. Pairs of donkeys or oxen (or sometimes cattle, or horses) would then be walked round and round, often dragging a heavy threshing board behind them, to tear the ears of grain from the stalks, and loosen the grain itself from the husks.

After this threshing process, the broken stalks and grain were collected and then thrown up into the air with a wooden winnowing fork or a winnowing fan. The chaff would be blown away by the wind; the short torn straw would fall some distance away; while the heavier grain would fall at the winnower's feet. The grain could then be further cleansed by sieving.

Related Research Articles

Threshing machine Agricultural machine

A threshing machine or a thresher is a piece of farm equipment that threshes grain, that is, it removes the seeds from the stalks and husks. It does so by beating the plant to make the seeds fall out.

Chaffing and winnowing is a cryptographic technique to achieve confidentiality without using encryption when sending data over an insecure channel. The name is derived from agriculture: after grain has been harvested and threshed, it remains mixed together with inedible fibrous chaff. The chaff and grain are then separated by winnowing, and the chaff is discarded. The cryptographic technique was conceived by Ron Rivest and published in an on-line article on 18 March 1998. Although it bears similarities to both traditional encryption and steganography, it cannot be classified under either category.

Winnowing Method of separating grain from chaff

Winnowing is a process by which chaff is separated from grain. It can also be used to remove pests from stored grain. Winnowing usually follows threshing in grain preparation.

Barn Agricultural building used for storage and as a covered workplace

A barn is an agricultural building usually on farms and used for various purposes. In North America, a barn refers to structures that house livestock, including cattle and horses, as well as equipment and fodder, and often grain. As a result, the term barn is often qualified e.g. tobacco barn, dairy barn, cow house, sheep barn, potato barn. In the British Isles, the term barn is restricted mainly to storage structures for unthreshed cereals and fodder, the terms byre or shippon being applied to cow shelters, whereas horses are kept in buildings known as stables. In mainland Europe, however, barns were often part of integrated structures known as byre-dwellings. In addition, barns may be used for equipment storage, as a covered workplace, and for activities such as threshing.

Combine harvester Machine that harvests grain crops

The modern combine harvester, or simply combine, is a versatile machine designed to efficiently harvest a variety of grain crops. The name derives from its combining four separate harvesting operations—reaping, threshing, gathering, and winnowing—into a single process. Among the crops harvested with a combine are wheat, rice, oats, rye, barley, corn (maize), sorghum, soybeans, flax (linseed), sunflowers and rapeseed. The separated straw, left lying on the field, comprises the stems and any remaining leaves of the crop with limited nutrients left in it: the straw is then either chopped, spread on the field and ploughed back in or baled for bedding and limited-feed for livestock. Combine harvesters are one of the most economically important labour-saving inventions, significantly reducing the fraction of the population engaged in agriculture.

Chaff Protective casings of the seeds of cereal grain

Chaff is the dry, scaly protective casing of the seeds of cereal grains, or similar fine, dry, scaly plant material such as scaly parts of flowers, or finely chopped straw. Chaff is indigestible by humans, but livestock can eat it and in agriculture it is used as livestock fodder, or is a waste material ploughed into the soil or burned.

Threshing Process of loosening the edible part of cereal grain from the scaly, inedible chaff that surrounds it

Threshing is the process of loosening the edible part of grain from the straw to which it is attached. It is the step in grain preparation after reaping. Threshing does not remove the bran from the grain.

Matthew 3:12

Matthew 3:12 is the twelfth verse of the third chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. The verse occurs in the section relating the preachings of John the Baptist. In this he uses the imagery of harvesting wheat to describe God's judgement.

Granary Storage building for grain

A granary is a storehouse or room in a barn for threshed grain or animal feed. Ancient or primitive granaries are most often made out of pottery. Granaries are often built above the ground to keep the stored food away from mice and other animals and from floods.

Great Coxwell Barn

Great Coxwell Barn is a Medieval tithe barn at Great Coxwell, Oxfordshire, England. It is on the northern edge of the village of Great Coxwell, which is about 9 miles (14 km) northeast of Swindon in neighbouring Wiltshire.

National Museum of Rural Life

The National Museum of Rural Life, previously known as the Museum of Scottish Country Life, is based at Wester Kittochside farm, lying between East Kilbride in South Lanarkshire and Carmunnock in Glasgow. It is run by National Museums Scotland.

Threshing board

A threshing board, also known as threshing sledge, is an obsolete agricultural implement used to separate cereals from their straw; that is, to thresh. It is a thick board, made with a variety of slats, with a shape between rectangular and trapezoidal, with the frontal part somewhat narrower and curved upward and whose bottom is covered with lithic flakes or razor-like metal blades.

Bank barn

A bank barn or banked barn is a style of barn noted for its accessibility, at ground level, on two separate levels. Often built into the side of a hill, or bank, both the upper and the lower floors area could be accessed from ground level, one area at the top of the hill and the other at the bottom. The second level of a bank barn also could be accessed from a ramp if a hill was not available.

Dutch barn

Dutch barn is the name given to markedly different types of barns in the United States and Canada, and in the United Kingdom. In the United States, Dutch barns represent the oldest and rarest types of barns. There are relatively few—probably fewer than 600—of these barns still intact. Common features of these barns include a core structure composed of a steep gabled roof, supported by purlin plates and anchor beam posts, the floor and stone piers below. Little of the weight is supported by the curtain wall, which could be removed without affecting the stability of the structure. Large beams of pine or oak bridge the center aisle for animals to provide room for threshing. Entry was through paired doors on the gable ends with a pent roof over them, and smaller animal doors at the corners of the same elevations. The Dutch Barn has a square profile, unlike the more rectangular English or German barns. In the United Kingdom a structure called a Dutch barn is a relatively recent agricultural development meant specifically for hay and straw storage; most examples were built from the 19th century. British Dutch barns represent a type of pole barn in common use today. Design styles range from fixed roof to adjustable roof; some Dutch barns have honeycombed brick walls, which provide ventilation and are decorative as well. Still other British Dutch barns may be found with no walls at all, much like American pole barns.

Winnowing barn

Winnowing barns were commonly found in South Carolina on antebellum rice plantations. A winnowing barn consists of a large shed on tall posts with a hole in the floor. Raw, husked rice was carried up into the barn by slaves and then the grain was dropped through the hole. As the grain dropped to the ground, the lighter and undesirable chaff was carried away in the wind, leaving a mound of purified rice grains directly below the winnowing barn. The purified grain was then packed into barrels and carried down river to port cities for distribution.

Sumerian Farmers Almanac

Sumerian Farmer's Almanac is the first farmer's almanac on record. The farmer's almanac is dated to around 1700 to 1500 BCE. It was discovered in 1949 by an American expedition in Iraq sponsored jointly by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania.

Gristmill Mill; grinds grain into flour

A gristmill grinds cereal grain into flour and middlings. The term can refer to either the grinding mechanism or the building that holds it. Grist is grain that has been separated from its chaff in preparation for grinding.

Threshing stone

A threshing stone is a roller-like tool used for the threshing of wheat. Similar to the use of threshing boards, the stone was pulled by horses over a circular pile of harvested wheat on a hardened dirt surface, and the rolling stone knocked the grain from the head of wheat. The straw was removed from the pile and the remaining grain and chaff was collected. By a process called winnowing, the grain was tossed into the air to allow the chaff and dirt to be blown away, leaving only the grain.

New England barn

The New England Barn was the most common style of barn built in most of the 19th century in rural New England and variants are found throughout the United States. This style barn superseded the ”three-bay barn” in several important ways. The most obvious difference is the location of the barn doors on the gable-end(s) rather than the sidewall(s). The New England and three bay barns were used similarly as multipurpose farm buildings but the New England barns are typically larger and have a basement. Culturally the New England Barn represents a shift from subsistence farming to commercial farming thus are larger and show significant changes in American building methods and technologies. Most were used as dairy barns but some housed teams of oxen which are generally called teamster barns. Sometimes these barns are simply called “gable fronted” and “gable fronted bank barns” but these terms are also used for barns other than the New England style barn such as in Maryland and Virginia which is not exactly the same style as found in New England. A similar style found in parts of the American mid-west and south is called a transverse frame barn or transverse crib barn.

Ruth 3

Ruth 3 is the third chapter of the Book of Ruth in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, part of the Ketuvim ("Writings"). This chapter contains the story of how on Naomi's advice, Ruth slept at Boaz's feet, Ruth 3:1-7; Boaz commends what she had done, and acknowledges the right of a kinsman; tells her there was a nearer kinsman, to whom he would offer her, and if that man refuses, Boaz would redeem her, Ruth 3:8-13; Boaz sends her away with six measures of barley, Ruth 3:14-18.


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