Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Hop pickers, Bloomfield, Prince Edward County, Ontario

Carol Martin.  A History of Canadian Gardening.  McArthur & Co., 2000.
Bloomfield is about an hour's drive from my house.  I never knew that it was once a centre for growing hops in Ontario.

A friend gave me a hops plant some years ago. Beware:  this plant is aggressive!  At its previous location, my friend had tried to get rid of it by repeatedly running over it with his lawnmower, to no avail.  It took over an area where I planted it, and I had a devil of a time getting rid of it from there.  I finally planted it near an arbour off of my back porch, and both it and I are happy now.  Come the late spring, when the flowers form, it smells of beer out there.  I like it!

According to an interesting article in New Stitches magazine (No. 31. 1995), hops production in Britain had/has its own unique vocabulary:

Another interesting element was the "tallyman":

Dating back to Norman times, tally sticks were wooden sticks about a foot long.  A cut was made longitudinally through the stick for about three-quarters of its length.  One piece was broken off and given to the picker.  The larger piece was retained by the tallyman by attaching it to a string through a hole. The tallyman would periodically come through the field, count how many bushels a picker had collected, and place the picker's piece of the tally stick against his own, using a file to mark both pieces for every 5 bushels harvested.  For the final accounting, the two sticks would be placed side by side, and there could be no disagreement about the amount paid to the worker.

1 comment:

tonyand03 said...

The English government also used tally sticks to record tax payments for many centuries. As is the nature of governments, even after this system became obsolete, many thousands of sticks were still stored at the medieval palace of Westminster (original UK parliament buildings). Eventually in 1834 it was decided to get rid of the sticks by burning them in the palace heating boilers. Unfortunately this was done somewhat over-enthusiastically and the ensuing conflagration burnt most of the palace to the ground.