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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

We had an old bench up by the well house when I was a kid and my Grandpa, in his 80's by then would sit on the "hobo" bench (as it was called), and twist the ends of used baler twine together with a backwards twist. He would spend countless hours sitting on the bench intently working these strands together. It was a given, if not too cold nor too wet that is just about where he would always be found. Literally doing thousands of these over the years, he would twist two strands into a simple two strand braid, then take three of the two stranded braids and make a three braided rope with six individual strands. All of used baler twine. We both (400 propane and myself) have managed to save a mile or two of the hand made home made rope each, anywhere from 8' in length to well over a hundred feet in length. The last would have been twisted together in his unique way before 1960. This little bundle here, I believe was dropped off by our sister who just moved to Alaska a year or so ago and was somewhat limited in what she could take along. On a side note, she emailed me the other day and said she wished she'd have taken more that one, because retrieving a trashcan from down an embankment by tying the rope to her bumper....she BROKE it !!!

Sorry, I get sidetracked occasionally, now back to the story:
You can seldom see within the strands of rope the actual joint where the ends of the twine are counter-twisted into each other. I'd sit there and watch him hoping for an occasional peppermint treat from his front bib pocket as it was always bulging with them. Now in the middle of this bundle is in fact a factory manufactured hemp rope and you can clearly see the difference. I didn't want you to think I was passing that off as handmade also. I've seen the hand cranked rope twisting tool used at craft shows, but never have I witnessed another process like our grandfather used. Too old to do any farming anymore, sitting on the bench twisting rope he could overlook the lane going out to pasture and watch the dairy and beef cattle leave in the morning and return to my dad's call in the afternoon. Also from that vantage point he could easily nab a kid like me to get him a drink of water from the well house or to help lay out the twine for the next twist. Mostly he just whiled away the hours more than likely reflecting on the past wishing he was young enough to be out there milking the goats or dairy cows or at least be able to get to the barn more easily to tell some of the young'uns HOW to do it .

That sure was a lot of story for one funky picture now wasn't it?
 

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Those are the stories of our forefathers and the way things were done in the past. I didn't learn to twist rope, we braided it using 3/6/9 or12 strands. I have made many miles of rope. It gave me something to do when I had polio, surgeries, other health problems and the 2 polio relapses. Kept me busy and out of trouble. The new plastic twine actually makes good rope and bull whips....James
 

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We have a 3 hook rope maker that we do rope making demonstration with at tractor shows.
 

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Wendell enjoy seeing the homemade rope but wouldn't
be worth as much without the good story you have to go with it. The story gives it meaning.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks guys for all the nice comments. It's what makes telling the stories worth the effort...

About whether or not it was sisal, we'd have to get input from the real historian in the family....400propane. That guy has a memory like a steel trap and can remember so many things in incredible detail, all the way down to specific names of people, where they worked, what kinda car or truck they drove and who they were related to. I do good to remember some of the junk we managed to salvage. Of course being so much older, he has had almost an additional lifetime to perfect the technique of honing his memory.... :D :D :D By the way, its a good thing he's got a good sense of humor isn't it.....
 

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soundguy. The rope my much younger brother was talking about is sisal. It may fool you as to how much you can pull with that rope. He made a lot of them as large a one inch in dia. We would haul hay or straw to other farms we would tie the loads with rope about 3 / 4 inch in dia. Thanks you for asking. 400propane
 

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Sorry I missed this when you put it up. What a story to go with the rope. I bet there was a lot of good stories and wisdom that went along with the time spent there.
 

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Thanks for the interesting post. I've been taking more notice of rope making since I found out (doing genealogy) my g/grandfather was a rope maker in Scotland. Quite an art to it.
 
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