Harvest time once again
With October here, we're already looking back on another harvest season. Thankfully it has been a better experience for the Orkney Hand Crafted Furniture team than last year!
We were lucky enough to enjoy some September sunshine in Orkney this time around which, coupled with a relatively dry and calm summer, meant our straw was in perfect condition to be cut and collected.
Contrast this with 2019, when we had to salvage what we could from our crop by hand, with scissors, scythes and a lot of hard work, and it's fair to say that 2020 has brought at least one piece of good news!
We got the binder in our fields in Orkney's east mainland last month, with our sheaves stooked to ripen and dry in the fresh sea air. These stooks are made up of half a dozen sheaves which are placed oat-end up so the air can get into them and speed up the drying process. Then we let the fresh sea air do the work.
Next, the sheaves are stacked in piles around ten feet high to dry further. We make sure to place the oats facing inside in a circle shape, which comes inwards towards the top to protect them from any wilder weather. The final step is to place them in a Dutch barn to finish them off.
We normally use our straw between January and April the following year, depending on how the drying and ripening process goes. When it's ready, we use it in our furniture - mostly Orkney chair backs but also in baskets and other bespoke pieces.
It's always one of our favourite times of year. It can be hard work, and the wait for the new straw to be ready is always a bit torturous, but it also gives us something to look forward to - a new season and a chance to start afresh. We think we all need that now more than ever.