The Countryside Museum
Haytime :: Mowing grass with horses :: Working with the scythe :: Carting hay :: Sledging hay :: Harvest :: Tumbling Tam :: Tumbling Tam Demo

The Hay Sweep

Model of a Tumbling Tam haysweep in use

Now that the Museum site has been redesigned for mobile devices, and Flash animations are no longer supported, the original digital jigsaws no longer work, so I've removed them from the site. This ceramic model of the Tumbling Tommy (Tam) haysweep is what one completed jigsaw looked like.

The wooden "Tumbling Tam" hay sweep was modelled by Ray Ayres for Border Fine Arts (see Links), from John Dodd and his family's farm at Sillywrea, Northumberland.

Avoiding the heavy spikes as they went head over heels wasn't easy. And on uneven ground there was another hazard: the points of the sweep could become embedded in a ridge in the field and would frequently snap off.

Charles Bowden, 2001: The Last Horsemen (Granada)

The action of a Tumbling Tam haysweep

The Flash animation from 2000 is not supported any more, but there is an Alternative version on YouTube video (.avi)

John Gate: "That's an old tumbling tommy sweep. I've used yin o them many a time. You've nobbut about five tines in it. This bit here was a bit of heavy wood, and shafts or handles to it, and your chain to each end of it. It used one horse - you could put two to it, but geyly much just one. It was a long stretch was that [from you to the horse]. Faster a horse went, better it was to sweep. But you'd fast hev it full o' hay, being at horse's heels, so you had long plough chains, with an extension at heel. You'd to have geyly long cords, to drive, because you were a long way behind.

"You always had to sweep the way it was mown. The stubble - if you were mown say that way round, well that's how you rowed it up, because if you were going rather again your stubbles, the hay didn't slide along as good. When you got to where you wanted to tip it all, you just lifted shafts up a bit, it just dug in and it would tip over, and it landed back upright. It was blooming marvellous. You just tipped it up and left rynes loose, and over it went. You walked round the hay and started again."