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Piskie Threshers

Piskie Threshers

Many, many years ago a farmer from the Dartmoor borders was working in one of his fields when one of his labourers came rushing up, he was breathless and excited and had just ran all the way from the farm. It appeared that when the man went passed the big barn he heard the sound of flailing coming from within. He knew only too well that all the other workers were on the moor and so thought that it could only be the piskies lending a helping hand. This news he had come to tell his master. The farmer calmed him down and told him that whatever he did he must not go anywhere near the little folk and to stay up in the field for the rest of the day.

On returning to the farmstead the farmer and his man went to the barn, here all was silent and on opening the door they were met with the sight of a neat pile of threshed corn and a neater stack of straw. They looked at each other with amazement, the farmer immediately ordered the labourer to go and fetch a plate of bread and cheese and a pail of milk, this was left inside the barn and the door firmly closed.

The following morning the farmer summoned all his workers and explained that the piskies had come to lend a hand with the harvest and that on no account must anybody go anywhere near the barn or else they would vanish never to return. He also told his foreman that he was to make sure that at first light every morning a plate of bread and cheese and a pail of milk must be left in the barn. That day all the men went on the moor to cut bracken and when the sun set they all returned to the farm. The farmer went to the barn and after checking it was silent, he entered to find another pile of corn and straw with an empty plate and pail.

This went on for several days until all the farmers corn had been threshed. The following day the men once again went up to the moor and on returning, more by routine than anything the farmer checked his barn. He was expecting to find it empty as all his corn had now been stored away so imagine his surprise when again he saw a pile of grain and a stack of straw. He was pleasantly perplexed, how could this be, all he corn had been threshed but here now was a fresh pile of corn. Straight away he went to the dairy to and fetched an unexpected meal of more bread, cheese and milk.

This became a daily event and still the corn kept appearing until all his grain store were brim full and he had to build another one. This too soon started to fill. It got to the stage where he could not sell the corn quick enough, not only was there quantity but the grain was had a good moisture content and excellent bite. Week after week the grain cart would deliver the corn to local millers. breweries and feed mills. The farm and the farmer became prosperous, his bank manager actually visited the farm to see what had caused the upturn in the mans fortune. He left as wise as he had arrived and resigned himself to merely handling the profits. The farmers neighbours were puzzled as to how anybody could produce this much corn from the poorly suited moorland soils. A few even tried to grow some corn of there own but this always failed. A few jealous folk began to say that it was the devils work and that the farmer had sold his soul. But every Sunday he would be at church as good as Christian as the rest. All he would say about his secret was “a little gratitude goes a long way”.


About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

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