Location: KIntyre
farming and crofting, the natural world

Mill Day at Kilwhipnach Farm

"Growing up on a farm in the 1960s was an exciting time and also a great time to catch the end of the older way of life where all the local farms got together to help each other bring in the crops.

"Out of these days the ones I remember in particular were the Mill Days when we brought in the corn for the threshing. Corn was commonly grown in the area and come harvest time in September or October depending on when it was ripe it was cut and then stooked by hand to dry. Once dry it was gathered into stacks to store before the Mill Day.

"The Mill day was always special as I remember my uncle and cousin coming up from Marchfield Farm along with all my mum and dad's pals from Knocknaha. Our neighbours from Auchincorvie, Homestone, Killenan, Lochorodale and Oatfield Farms all helped out as well meaning that we would have up to seventeen or eighteen people helping.

"The corn thresher (or thrashing machine) was booked for the day you wanted to take the stacks in and this was when you separated the grain from the stocks. It was a dusty and dangerous task as I remember a large belt which powered the threshing operation and there didn’t seem to be safety guards in place.

"I was only young at the time, probably between five and seven years old, when I remember the Mill Days and the whole farm seemed to be full of people dust and to my horror rats as the stacks were taken apart. My mum and sister were not only helping outside but also busy preparing meals for up to twenty people. We had a large extendable table in the kitchen and was fully extended and packed with home made soup, stew and potatoes at lunch time. At teatime there was also loads of home baking and always large pots of tea on the rayburn stove.

"There were loads of stories and laughs round the table and sometimes it was well into the night before all the work was done and we got in for our tea. Come the next day the thresher moved on to the next farm and everyone would turn up to help, this would go on until all the farms had taken in their crop.

"One other memory from that time is the noise of the corncrakes calling each evening, it’s not something that you hear much if at all in Kintyre now as barley became the crop of choice in the 1970s."

As told by Iain Johnston The image is a photo of Iain at Kilwhipnch in 1967, at the time the Mill Days were still happening.

More information on visiting the area can be found here.