The question.


What’s binder twine?

And why do you call your farm Binder Twine Lane?

First, binder twine is the ‘string or cord’ used to hold bales of hay or straw together – to bind them.  It is also referred to as baler twine.  The twine is coarse and strong and has been around since the 1800’s but it became popular in the 1950’s as automatic balers were invented and sold to farmers.  There was for a time a North American shortage of the product because of the automation of baling and in the 1930’s the United States took off the tariffs that had been applied to the product known as baler twine (although binder twine was already tariff free and basically the same thing.)  The House Ways and Means Committee at that time proposed all agricultural binding products coming from Canada or Mexico, be classified binder twine.  (I wonder where all this sits in the newly negotiated USMCA (formerly NAFTA) agreement.)

Bales of hay or straw (six sided) were created when the loose stalk material was fed into the baling machine right in the field.  These bales could be easily picked up and stacked and this was really good news.  Prior to that hay and straw were gathered loose and placed in barns or  ‘hay stacks’.  The automation resulted in faster harvesting and less waste.

Binder twine was a staple product on the farm and because of it’s strength is was also employed to fix a number of problems.  You could tie the gate closed with a piece of binder twine.  You could fix a hole in the fence.  You could braid it and make a halter for your horse or cow. You could use it in your shoes for laces.  You could use it in place of rope. You could slip it through the loops on your pants for a belt.  You could lasso your siblings with it, make a swing, or lead the dog.  You could make a handle for anything – basket, pail, doors of all manner and it was water and winter weather resistant.  Binder twine was a useful piece of kit – that and your jack knife. if you had both you were unstoppable.

Today many of the bales you see are round bales and much larger but they are still wrapped (bound) with twine.  The traditional ‘sisal’ twine has been replaced in some cases with a plastic version but we’re not fans. 

We call our farm Binder Twine Lane because it reminds us of our days as children on our father’s farms – our grandfather’s farms.  The name is a throw back to simpler times and a mindset that says ‘all things are possible’ – just get me the binder twine.