Harvest Time and Y Gaseg Fedi

As a tour guide on coaches and giving commentaries about our wonderful county, I am travelling high above the hedges where I am afforded an exceptional view of the surrounding countryside and can see what is happening in the fields of Pembrokeshire.

The fabulous bands of red and brown soil, newly ploughed in the wake of harvest time, which once would have been a very busy and sociable time on the farm.

It would have been customary to help neighbouring farms by providing work parties of men and women (y fedel wenith). Together they would cut and bind the wheat in one day, moving to another farm the following day.HARVEST

Each evening there was a festive harvest supper, with beer and dancing and in this way people were able to pay off debts, create good will, receive gifts and co-operation amidst a merry atmosphere.

The Y Gaseg Fedi (The Harvest Mare) was the last tuft of corn to be harvested. The tuft was divided into three, plaited and left standing in the field.  From a distance of about 15-20 yards, the reapers threw their sickles at it until it was cut. The successful reaper would take it home and then have to run the gauntlet past women throwing water and manage to get into house without the Y Gaseg Fedi getting wet. It remained in the house till the following harvest.

The first day of November was Calan Gaeaf, the winter calend. It was also one of times of year when staff were hired, fairs took place, livestock was moved to either summer or winter pastures and tenancies ended. The Welsh name for November, Tachwedd, is thought to mean the primitive custom of slaughtering animals, for the winter stores.

 

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