You all know the story of the kingdom being lost for the want of a nail … a simple horse nail. Let this be a lesson to you to never underestimate the value of small and simple things.

Even in this modern age of computer-this and electronic-that, there are many people like me who would be lost without a piece of baling-twine around the yard. If you have never known the satisfaction of having a length of baling-twine, or a piece of blasting-wire at hand – let me explain what you are missing!

A length of baling-twine is about two metres long. You get two such lengths of this ultra-strong string when you cut open a square bale of hay. It was made from hemp in the past, but is now a synthetic cord made from fibrous material and wax. During the fodder season I save baling twine in an old half barrel. From here a limitless supply serves a thousand uses for the rest of the year.

We shall revert to the blasting-wire further down, but for now let us dwell on some of the many uses we put the baling-twine to. In order to gain full advantage from this tip, may we assume that you never go out the door without a pen-knife in your pocket

No matter what gets broken around the yard, the first thing I think of is the baling-twine. Temporary stock-proof fences are erected by tying a few old pallets together. Broken barbed wire is joined from the small ball of the twine I carry in my working coat pocket, or from the cab of the tractor. Leaking gutters are tied up and gates are tied closed. A suck-calf is hobbled for dehorning and the electric fence wire is handled away from where it is ‘earthing’ … and all with a solitary loop of baling-twine.

I pull on my rain gear and the pants is inclined to come down in the rain (now … now …Lads!) until I tie a length of twine around my waist and ‘the job is Oxo’. The roses, lovingly tended to by Mrs Youcantbeserious are becoming a little unruly and she doesn’t want to prune them yet. Enter stage left, a husband trailing a twine and before you can say ‘smell the roses’ every last bud is secured in a perfect shape.

The other day, as I was ‘trickin’ around in the yard, I was jolted out of my meditation by a loud ‘clatter … clatter … bang … bang’ outside my front gate. Arriving at the scene I found a young driver in ‘a bit of a fix.’ The exhaust had fallen down from its holding underneath her car. ‘I’ll phone my brother’, the lady said. ‘No need for anything as dramatic as that’. Sez  I. Two minutes later I was kneeling by the car and in five minutes the exhaust pipe was back where it belonged – thanks to you-know-what.

Most of you will not be familiar with blasting-wire. Blasting – wire is the baling-twine of underground mining – where I worked for a few years It is bright yellow in colour and comes on a spool. Blasting-wire is strong and pliable and without it the shift would come to a shuddering halt. We used it as a clamp to repair the water hose, a piece on the jacket lapel kept manners on the lamp cable and it made a good handle for carrying a lunch-pail. Air-pipes were tied up with blasting wire and broken ladders were tied down. The scoop-tram needed a roll of blasting wire on board and any man who ever lost a pin or a button, solved his problem with a little piece of yellow wire.

Oh … I almost forgot; we used blasting- wire for setting off a blast as well!

A spool of blasting-wire could have landed me in big trouble. Let me explain:

Sometime in the early 1980’s an old Canadian friend came to Ireland and stayed with us for a week. I had worked with Bill Elliot in the Canadian mines and we got on really well. When Bill came I was a busy farmer and he, having grown up on a farm in Saskatchewan, had a huge interest in all that was going on and being a part of the work. During the course of the week, the blasting-wire became the theme and no matter what went wrong, either of us would lament; ‘if only we had a roll of blasting-wire!’

A month after Bill left, I got a package in the mail with a yellow bow and a Canadian post-mark.  Inside was a reel of mining blasting wire! I don’t know how it got through customs or why I wasn’t arrested! At that time there was dreadful waring going on in the north of Ireland.

The good thing is that for years afterwards I had a choice between baling-twine and blasting-wire. How good can it get!!

Don’t Forget

You can’t always judge a dinner by the price.


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