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  • positive root agitator

    My brother Robert was going through some photos he shot in Ireland in 2003. He asked me if I can identify this machine, which he saw in Athlone.

    Some online sleuthing shows it is a turnip cutter. I assume this was used to chop turnips (or rutabagas) for feeding sheep during the winter, as they do in New Zealand. I'm puzzled why they cast the term positive into the casing. That sort of implies there is a negative version.

    Anybody know anything about this machine?

    Last edited by aostling; 06-21-2012, 07:28 AM.
    Allan Ostling

    Phoenix, Arizona

  • #2
    Allan that looks pretty much like a standard Victorian root chopper as you state. I suspect that the terms "positive" and "agitator" are meaningless florid Victorian hyperboles to help sell a product that virtually every farm in the UK and Ireland would have possessed. My neighbour has a couple of these in his yard and I bet, other than the text, will be identical. the folding carry handles certainly are the same.
    West Sussex UK

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    • #3
      Hmmm, if I recall correctly sheep around here have to pick and chomp their own turnips, no fancy smancy sliced turnips for those girls, no table service either!

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      • #4
        Never seen a machine like that out here, as far as I understand they just grow the turnips and when they are ready they just let the sheep into the paddock job done. well that is what happens by our hunting block

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        • #5
          Originally posted by The Artful Bodger
          Hmmm, if I recall correctly sheep around here have to pick and chomp their own turnips, no fancy smancy sliced turnips for those girls, no table service either!
          I only learned about feeding turnips to sheep when I talked to my B&B host when I was in Methven in 2010. His wife ran the house and he did odd jobs around the farms, including turning turnips in the fields.

          I was surprised to learn this. I never saw a turnip patch in the sheep-dotted hills around Wellington. Where do those sheep get their winter feed?
          Allan Ostling

          Phoenix, Arizona

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          • #6
            You think Wellington has a winter Allan?

            I expect most sheep around Wellington are on pasture all year, besides it is probably a bit difficult to make the tractor stick to the hillsides around Wellington enough to till and sow for turnips.

            Canterbury farming is much more arable being mostly flat.

            By turning turnips I presume this refers to grubbing the gnawed off stubs of turnip so that sheep can eat all of the root?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by The Artful Bodger
              By turning turnips I presume this refers to grubbing the gnawed off stubs of turnip so that sheep can eat all of the root?
              John Barwell is his name, and now that you have jogged my memory, that is how he described the job, "bloody hard work" he said.

              He knocked off at noon for his lunch break. He went to the back porch and found a plate of cold left-overs which the farmer's wife had left for him. He was well stuck into this when the woman came out onto the porch, holding a steaming plate heaped with meat, potatoes, and veggies. She almost dropped this when she saw what he was eating. "That was for the dog!" she gasped.

              Here is John, content at home.


              Allan Ostling

              Phoenix, Arizona

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Kiwi
                Never seen a machine like that out here ...
                Maybe the reason is the huge size of Irish turnips, also known as swedes. I took this photo in an Irish grocery in 2007. "Agitating" the root might help the sheep get a good bite on it.


                Last edited by aostling; 06-22-2012, 01:45 AM.
                Allan Ostling

                Phoenix, Arizona

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                • #9
                  The bit I can't fathom is the "Size 18" at the top.
                  Does this mean it takes only size 18 turnips?
                  Or does it reduce the turnips to the correct bite size for size 18 sheep?

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                  • #10
                    OK I am not a farmer and do not raise goats. But I am curious so I Googled "root agitator" and came up with exactly two results for that phrase. This page was the second one and the other was an auction with a typical, useless auction description.

                    So, does anybody know exactly what a root agitator does and how it does it? Inquiring minds want to know.
                    Paul A.

                    Make it fit.
                    You can't win and there is a penalty for trying!

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                    • #11
                      It's like a great big food processor, and grates the turnips into chunks, not so much for sheep which are happy to chew on a whole turnip but more for cattle.
                      I'll see if I can get you a photo of the internals over the weekend.
                      West Sussex UK

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by aostling
                        John Barwell is his name, and now that you have jogged my memory, that is how he described the job, "bloody hard work" he said.

                        Yea, real hard work, sitting on the tractor dragging a grubber around!

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by aostling
                          Maybe the reason is the huge size of Irish turnips, also known as swedes. I took this photo in an Irish grocery in 2007. "Agitating" the root might help the sheep get a good bite on it.
                          Swedes are also very popular in Southland (south of Otago which is south of Canterbury), it is a bit colder down there, the girls like to roll their 'r's and sheep can handle those swedes just fine without chopping them up!

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                          • #14
                            Tend to size sheep by age year old lambs ,Mutton,Hogget, two tooth etc I don,t think any of them except the two tooth will need the silver service and have their turnips sliced up for them

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                            • #15
                              Perhaps the mechanism tosses the turnip about while chopping bits off, rather than feeding the whole thing in at once. It would mean less strain on the arms and the machine.

                              I would be interested in seeing the action bits inside to test this theory.

                              Or it could really just be overheated marketing. We think it's bad now, but it has always been bad.

                              Finest regards,

                              doug

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