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Work

What work did the Bondagers do?
thumbail of Workers lifting turnipsWorkers lifting turnips
thumbail of Farm workers assembled in the farmyard at Whitsome LawsFarm workers assembled in the farmyard at Whitsome Laws
thumbail of Young bondagers helping to sort and weigh potatoesYoung bondagers helping to sort and weigh potatoes
thumbail of HarvestingHarvesting
thumbail of Bondagers and hinds at hay-timeBondagers and hinds at hay-time
thumbail of Stacking HayStacking Hay
thumbail of Building pikesBuilding pikes
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The work undertaken by the bondagers varied with the seasons of the year. Much of it was very physically demanding but also required many skills. The men who worked along side the bondagers respected them for the work they did, and often remarked on their speed and dexterity.

The men also said that the bondagers worked the hardest as they were doing physical work all day long and never rode anywhere. The men could ride home from the field or ride on the cart as they moved around the farm. Having noted this, however, some recall that a bondager could and did hop up on to the horse behind a hind to get a lift back to the farm.

The bondagers wore leggings or gaiters to protect their legs from the dirt and cold. These could be cut-off trousers, puttees, leatherette gaiters or canvas leggings. For the very dirtiest work the bondagers breeked their skirts (pinned their skirts so that they looked more like trousers) and added straw ropes over the top of their leggings. Their aim was to keep as dry and warm as they could despite the mud.