Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Clocks and time pieces collected over the years

It’s that time of year again where the clocks will have to be moved back for the winter months. I have never counted up how many clocks I move each spring and autumn as I only did the ones I can see and are in regular use.

However this year is different as we have moved house, a lot smaller house, a house that responds when you put the heating on without draining ya wallet. All those clocks that have been hiding in the far front rooms and in the spare bedrooms are all lined up and on show, most are working or will work if they had a new battery, and just the odd one kept is just for looks even though it don’t work.

We have one, taking the two extremes, which was bought for us a few months ago, an alarm clock which projects the time onto the bedroom ceiling in big red letters, at 11.59 pm. it suddenly changes to 12.01 am, whereas the older digital one will go from 11.59 to 00.01 at midnight and does not display am or pm. (but ya can guess that by how light or dark it is).

The other extreme clock we had was an old four foot square face cricket ground clock, an outdoor clock with its own weather protection and runs off mains electric.

It was acquired when we went to clear on old shed on a cricket ground in town, which was in the way of the building of a new pavilion, and had to be moved pronto. We had the idea of mounting it on the flat roofed old dairy across the yard, but never got round to it, it needed anchoring down and raw plugging to the concrete top to the dairy, so it was always housed in the building behind it in the picture. It was eventually sold on to a chap who ran and owned a bus station in the Wolverhampton/Birmingham area, he wanted it on his office roof in a prominent place where all who worked for him could see to synchronise their time pieces to his time.

        I have still not counted them all, we have everything in between the two examples above, carriage clocks large and small, two grandfather clocks that father made after he retired in the 1980’s, he made four in all, and kitchen clocks. We have an outdoor clock that hangs on a bracket that gives you a different  bird song at every hour, there being a picture of twelve popular wild birds round the face, but I’m dammed if I can tell the difference between one scratchy bird songs one from the other. On the reverse of that clock is the temperature gauge, the biggest drawback with that clock is that you cannot see both sides at once, you do need to know how frosty it is first thing in a winters morning, and see the time during the rest of the day.

It’s only the two grandfather clocks that need winding every week, and a mantle shelf clock also, but that does not have the correct key for winding it up. We had at one time couple of old Smiths alarm clocks, and they needed winding every night, they had a very loud tick, and when the alarm went off a hammer waived ferociously between two bells on the top of the clock. All the other clocks are battery powered, I keep a stock of various small batteries about just for that job as not many weeks go by when one or other of them run out of power.

When we were at Church Farm we had the church clock looking down on us for twenty five or more years, it chimed every quarter hour and could hear it right through the night, we got so used to it and took it for granted, then when we moved to the Yews (for over thirty years) we were out of site of the clock face but we could still hear the chimes that was what prompted us to put up the yard clock. 

It was an old medium sized out door clock which we hung in the gable of a pitching door on the front of the old range of cowsheds, when the cowsheds became redundant the architects drew up plans and designed them into barn conversion houses, with this clock still in place they called it a clock tower. By this time Matt and his mates had used it as target practice with their air guns, it now had a finger missing and some holes in the face, it had not been a reliable clock from the day we put it up but it looked good even with its battered appearance.

This is the only picture of the yard clock top right in this picture that I can find.

With time being shown on bottom of the computer screen as I write, the time is shown on the cooker as we cook, time shown on the mobile phone as we talk and text.
In some of the old draws that got emptied out there was old wrist watches, winders and battery ones, an old pocket watch, you know the type ya kept in ya waist coat pocket with a gold coloured chain across ya chest to a tee that anchored it to the nearest button hole, none of these are working.

So eventually we will be culling and thinning out some of these unused clocks, I took one old kitchen clock into an open fronted cart shed up in the stack yard, I had been so used to picking me yed up and just looking at the time from the church clock. It lasted the summer, then when winter came and the damp foggy weather came along, the panel that formed the face behind the glass/perspex front buckled and stopped the fingers, when I opened it, it was made of cardboard and had swollen with the damp.

In the days of the steam trains, when working in the far fields alongside the main Stafford to Norton Bridge railway lines, we worked to the train times, the fast lines were cleared of traffic at around 3pm, so I was told by the signal man. This was to allow three high speed express steam trains to pass through at full speed, I know one was the Caledonian express, the Royal Scott, and another one all heading North and passed through at 3.15pm or there abouts,  that was the signal for us to round the cows up and take them home with us for milking. 

Monday, 20 October 2014

Now its been some time since I wrote and updated my blog. you may have read some two years ago about me acquiring a house in the village for us to retire to, and back then I described and compared the new 1950'  house with the old farm house  --- see blog here ----.

So now its all happened, and we're settling in, and getting back to do a bit of writing, we have been without a phone land line and broadband for a month, and that finally got sorted this afternoon.

Next week we have the cattle to TB test and then they will be sold in the store market, contract hedge cutting to catch up on and many domestic items of surplus goods to disperse, half of which will have the help of a box of Englands Glory (matches).

Yes all three farm houses I have lived in from the age of four (72 years) are in this picture including now the 'new ' house we have just moved to, (not shown the front of  the old house for obvious reasons) 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

St Swithin's day 15th July

Well we had a fine dry and warm day today, St Swithins day, so if the old fable is right we can forty days of fine weather now. The following poem I wrote when we had a really wet St Swithins day.

St Swithin's day 15th July ( a year or two ago)

This is the old saying--

'St. Swithin's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mair.'

St Swithin's day it turned out wet, for forty days its rain,
Each day we watch the forecast, but alas it's all in vein,
Cloud and drizzle a little sun, each day it starts the same,
The next day it turns out fine, and gives you hope again.

Fifteenth July the decisive day, and forty more to come,
Whole phase of the moon and more before we get the sun,
Big depressions sweeping in, low cloud and mist it brings,
Broken cloud and sunny spells, muggy warm evenings.

The local show the village fete, a chance they have to take,
It just by luck rain holds off; bring folks through the gate,
Just one day a year it is, and just a few hours that day,
Six whole days since Sunday, when the vicar's was meant to pray.

Hay makings been put on hold, and the corn is getting rip
The grass matured and gone to seed, but who are we to gripe,
We take what comes from day to day, work along as befit,
Its frustrating all the waiting about, enough to make ya spit.

Owd Fred

This again I wrote some years ago when we had a very dry season, I think we had two months or more without rain

Up to now we haven't had a Drop (rain)

Well to be honest it did rain yesterday, a reet heavy down pour for a few minutes most of which ran off.

Me cows are out on grass, and the pastures burning up,
The brook is running low, soon be nothing left to sup,
They're roaming round the fields, n' pulling at the hedge,
Even eating at the rushes, and they're pulling at the sedge.

No grass to cut for aftermath, hasn't grown an inch,
And the corn is short and stunted, two tons an acre at a pinch,
Straw is short and brittle, come through combine just like dust,
Need a baler like a Hoover, suck it off the old earth’s crust.

Feed for winter not enough, and the bedding it's the same,
It's the climate that is changing, and the weather is to blame,
When the weather breaks at last, n' it won't know when to stop,
Flooding and the rain, up to now we haven't had a drop.

Owd Fred

Monday, 14 July 2014

The old Cow Chains

The old Cow Chains

Up until the 1960's almost all milking cows were tied up by the neck in stalls to milk and feed, the old stalls were made of oak and the floors usually of blue brick as were the mangers. When new dairy regulations became stricter, they demanded that the floors of the cowsheds and stalls had got to be concreted, also the wooden stalls removed and either concrete stalls or tubular metal stall put in place so they could be kept scrubbed and clean.

The wooded hasp in the picture below, is fastened to the end wall of the shed, and the only one left and over looked by the diary inspectors, as you see by the cobwebs, this has not been used for fifty years or more. The chains when in every day use were bright as silver, and the shed walls were kept white washed with burnt lime,

This is a very old hasp for the cow chain to slide up and down on, its made of oak by the village wheelwright could easily  be hundred and fifty years old. The chain  itself has a large hoop that hooks around the hasp and the chain threaded through a ring then a couple more links of chain to a swivel. From there the chain divide into two, one end with a tee bar the other end has some round links for the tee to threaded through to fasten round the cows neck 

This is the same pattern of chain, but a later version of hasp made of metal bolted to the wall, made by the blacksmith, the hook end of the chain that slides up and down is a lot smaller diameter the bar being a lot thinner than the oak hasp above 

My father told us a tale about a relative, not a close  relative you understand, who, having bought another farm, proceeded to drive his cows and all his livestock some ten miles after early morning milking to the new farm. When moving farms the cow chains in them days went with the farmer and his cows and to the new farm. After some six hours walking the stock along county lanes and roads they arrived and proceeded to fit the cow chains to the stalls, only to find they would not fit the stalls.
You see where he moved from they had all metal stall hasps and all his cow chains had the small ring to slide up and down them, but at this new farm, he had over looked the fact that all those stalls had the thicker oak hasps as you see in the top picture. I did not know how the tale ended but I have no doubt that that evenings milking was very late.

Every cow in the village and wide around this district, cows were always tied up by the neck to be housed and milked, it was only when milking parlours and loose housing in bedded up yards came in that thing began to change. I might add the the deep bedded straw yards were in the arable areas where straw was very plentiful, but around our area that was not the case and deep bedding no an option.
 Then in the late 1950's cubicles were invented, where the cows chose to go into  individual stall just to lay down and were free to walk about the yard and feed troughs at their will. These were deep bedded with saw dust or wood shavings and used even less bedding than they were using in the old cowshed method.
By 1980 the last herd of cows to be tied up were dispersed in a retirement sale, all those left had gone over to cubicle and parlour milking. By this time the herds were getting bigger and eighty or ninety cow herds became common place, the farms were no longer restricted to the number of stalls with chains per cow, and almost any shed or barn, cubicles could be quickly set up to expand the herd.

1920's it was ten cows per man to milk by hand, 1940's it was twenty to twenty five cows per man to milk with a machine with cows still in stalls, 1980's it was forty five to fifty cows per man milked through a parlour, at the turn of the century it went to nearer ninety cows per man, and now 2014 there is a 400 cow herd next door and two men milking.
At one time some twenty or more years ago, a loaf of bread and a pint of milk cost the same in the shops, now bread is four time the price of milk, where is the justice in that.

Quotation --
Hope is the poor man's bread.          
 George Herbert (1593 - 1633)

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Wellies large and large wellies small

Now , what am I looking for.

Ya ware them in the rain, and ya ware them in the snow,
Ya ware them in the mud, and everywhere you go,
Ya keep them in the car, in case of floods you never know,
Ya can’t do without them, left behind it is a blow,

And what I’m looking for, my WELLIES high and low

Owd Fred

Ode to a Welly

My wellies your wellies and kids wellies too,
Clean wellies dirty wellies some there full of pooh,
New wellies old wellies some with holes right through,
Country wellies town wellies, a big long rubber shoe,
Shiny wellies dull wellies and coloured wellies new,
Chewed wellies torn wellies, on the bonfire threw,
Smelly wellies pongy wellies some we have out grew
Wellies we can’t do without, often must renew.

Owd Fred

Wellies large and large wellies small

Wellies large and large wellies small, of sizes there are many
Some are black some are green, and they cost a pretty penny,
Some are painted in bright colours, but still ya feet they smell,
Trample through the mud and ditches, through the house as well.

The kids they have them round the farm, they hold the water in,
Walking out through deep puddles, wet through to the skin,
How much water they will hold, and your feet an-all,
Tip them out on the door mat, make mother shout and bawl.

Owd Fred

Chips or should I say Fish and Chips (Fries)

Chips or should I say Fish and Chips (Fries) always used to be about the only take away food bought and taken home to eat in the UK. 
My first recollections (1945) of this first convenience food was of a mobile Fish and Chip shop that travelled around the countryside villages and would come one evening a week into our village, sounding his horn or claxton as he arrived near the houses.
There was always chip shops in town but out where we lived we did not always get the chance to travel into town to collect such a meal, and not only that when we got it back it would be going cold. For most folk it would mean a bike ride into town and eat ya chips on the hoof out side, it was the taking home bit for the family that did not work
The traveling Chip Shop would call at our farm house every week then continue on into the cluster  perhaps ten or fifteen houses and cottages, and calling at all outlying houses that had a regular order for him. 
On the road before he set off from us he would put another shovel full of coal onto his stove fire, and a trail of black smoke followed him up the road just like a small steam locomotive.
When I look back now, the elf and safety officers would nail him in an instant, but back then there was none, and driving about with five gallons of boiling fat in an almost open vat with a fire underneath seems a very dangerous occupation, to my knowledge he always stopped gently and no one ever forced him into a ditch.
This food was always served up in newspaper, with a bit of grease proof paper directly under the chips, other wise the printers ink would soak onto the chips, also if required there would be mushy peas, a good couple of spoonfuls along with salt and vinegar, which you could apply yourself. The peas would be in a big pot with boiling water underneath and cooked until the peas became a mush, almost like thick green custard, sommat ya could stand a spoon upright in without it falling over.  If you look at the following video, they serve up mushy peas.   

There is a spoof video about fish and chips depicting Yorkshire folk and in their broad Yorkshire dialect, I dunt know if folk futher afield from Yorkshire and the North Midlands would know what they are saying but this is it , its about airline food.

Come to think of it, the misses and I have never flown together, seems the Yorkshire Airlines are a good airline to go with. ???  Please advise us  !

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Father Cutting our Hair

I Remember father Cutting our Hair

It would be around the early 1940's when we started to go to the village school , at the beginning of every new term father would reach up into the top shelf of the old cupboard and get out his hand clippers and scissors, these scissors were kept just for hair cutting and hidden away so they would not  be used for cutting paper or anything else that would blunt there fine edge.

On his right hand father only had a thumb and the first two fingers and a stump of a finger, and it was with this hand that he worked the clippers and scissors to cut our hair. Those two fingers and the thumb did all the work and were much stronger than what you could imagine. 

Starting with the youngest one, who would be twisting his head and moving about, he would be very careful and go steady, but when it came to the forth and last one sometimes his patience would be wearing a bit thin, the clippers would be pushed up the back of ya neck faster than he was clipping and that would pull ya hair out by the root 

When using the scissors, he would start snapping the scissors at a tremendous rate (or so it seemed to us kids) in mi air, then run the comb up the the back of ya neck n over  ya yed, as if he were doing a practice run, then on the second run lower the scissors into work on top of the comb, working over the top and the all round the back, with hair flying all over the place.

Many folk likened it to his skills at thatching the corn ricks and shearing the sheep, swift and most of the time accurate, he would nick ya earole if ya dinna sit still.

Father Cutting our Hair

At the beginning of every, new school term,
Father said with long hair, no you’ll not learn,
So out with his scissors and comb and clipper,
And lifted us into the old high chair, start with the nipper.

Clippers are worked, by squeezing the handle,
And worked at a speed, more than an amble,
He oils them as if, he were clipping the sheep,
And expects us to sit there, without a peep

He started with clippers, on back of your neck,
And clipped up to where, the cap fitted by heck
Pushing them up faster, than he was clipping,
Pulled hair by the root, us howling and shouting.

When he had finished, around sides and ears,
Quake as the comb and scissors appear.
Combing it back, to make it stand up,
And do it again, as if to warm-up,

Gauging the length, one finger neeth comb,
Cut off all sticks through, all over your dome.
Stand back to see if, it’s even all round,
Snip to the lock that he missed, falls to ground.

No time for a cloth, round the shoulder or mirror,
Next one he lifts into chair, his turn to quiver,
Only five minuets it takes, as he sweats,
As with sheep, more you do, faster he gets.

The hair cut we had, when we now look back,
Was very much the same, as his corn stack ,
Thatched on the top, trimmed up the side,
Old habits’ never die, he does it with pride.

Owd Fred

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Ov worked all me life trying to earn an onnest crust

It must my age, or is it that I am wearing out almost a quick as the machinery, or is it that I'm getin ta be a tight old git, like we thought our father was when he tried to rein in expenditure when a neighbour had some new equipment, and we thought we should have the same.

Well it started again about six weeks ago, everything or it seemed like everything mechanical went wrong. My main tractor a Deutz Agrotron the clutch went, a new one was ordered and a week later it was fitted and back together a ready for work.

 On testing the steering after it had been apart, (getting the air out of the oil pipes) while sitting in the drivers seat with the engine running it seemed to work okay, but the mechanic who did the job noticed a groaning and grinding from one of the king pins and announced that we needed new king pin bearings.
New bearings were ordered and came another week hence,  and a few more days on they were fitted and the tractor up and running properly. The job it went on to was topping pastures, and somewhere around the hedge sides I must have caught up some barbed wire, which soon got cut and shredded but unknown to me a four inch piece of wire was fire straight through the rear tyre. After a few times around the field the tractor started to list only to realise the tyre was half down so headed fast back to the buildings, by this time it was totally flat.  Fortunately, if you can call it that, the damaged tyre was one that had been on the tractor from new (the only old original tyre) and had done twelve and a half thousand hours work, it had some damage over the years and was due to be replaced at some point, so now we ordered a new rear tyre.
As you can imagine, the repair and replacement bill was mounting, I have partially retired and intended to keep this tractor to do jobs about the village and hedge cutting for neighbours, and I imagined in my mind that it was good for another good many hour and not figured that such an expenses would rear up one after the other like they did.

The Land Rover Discovery is another item that suddenly needed attention, there are a pair of oil pipes that run down to the "active" suspension on the rear axle that rotted through and lost all the oil and had to be replaced, I think by the cost of  them that the end fittings must have been made of something rustless, like gold or sommatt.
Once that was sorted out an orange light on the dash board kept coming on after reverse gear had been used, and being an automatic gear box would not go out and right itself until the engine had been switched of the then started again.  The light warned of a problem, in that when you started off from a standstill, you would be in third gear, but as I said you could stop and start the engine to get it right again, and whilst going forwards it would go all day with no problem, until you wanted to reverse again.
On consulting a specialist 4x4 mechanic, he said it wanted a new gearbox control switch, I was absolutely staggered by the quote on the price of just a switch. They must have had to have one specially made just for my Land Rover possibly made in the Nasser Space Station, and imported via China. It was six weeks coming and it took ten minutes to fit and works perfectly again now.

When you've worked all ya life trying to earn an onnest crust, and saving,  ya don't like ta  flash the cash about. What I've saved I would like to have kept it "under the mattress" so to speak, but fa fear of intruders and thieves its in the bank, not that the bank are far off being thieves when it comes to the interest we're gettin right now.

But moaning aside, as long as health is okay, health is one thing ya conna buy. (and can't alway repair it)

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Everything is carried about and often back again

I know I jump about a bit on my subject matter,labelling, but this old chestnut has not been brought up lately, and I cannot for the life of me see that it has changed much since it was first aired.
Take the down turn in the price of beef cattle just recently, and what do you find in Tesco mingled in with the British beef, imported joints with almost identical packaging with no (very small) Union Jack. ???  

British food grown and packed

Food comes in from around the globe, then packed and labelled here,
All put into bubble packs, then Britain gets a cheer,
Stick on the labels, printed here, a union jack the lot,
It’s only the packaging, but the contents they are not.

Packaging’s the thing right now, it’s wrapped and wrapped again,
Keep the food clean and fresh, or that is what they claim,
Bin through many hands, and machines to wrap and pack,
Getting older by the minute, a use-by date on pack will slap.

Everything is carried about and often back again,
Out to distribution centres, finding jobs for men,
Wear and tear on tyres and roads, burning up the miles,
Costs all added onto their goods, customer pays up and smiles.

British food grown and packed, genuine through and through,
A clear label telling us, so we know on what we chew,
Local grown just down the road, fresh as the morning dew,
We need to know, it’s only fair, right now we haven’t a clue.

Owd Fred

It was like being stuck in Alcatraz

This a story/letter I wrote to my daughter, of what happened just before Christmas 2013 when there was about two inches of snow on the ground. My house central heating boiler was giving off fumes into the house, and my bill for all the mowing baling and wrapping had just been paid 10 days before.

 It was like being stuck in Alcatraz

Dear Jayne,

 As you may know, the boiler in the office has started to give off some fumes, neither ya mum nor I can smell anything, we can see smell if its smoke but this was clear.
Two of mums helpers complained this last day or two that the office was full of fumes when the door was shut, from the boiler, so I got Mr.M (our baler man come plumber) to come and have a look at it, he came last night, there nothing leaking as he could immediately see, he put a smoke bomb in it and none came back into the room, the only thing he did was to seal round the chimney and the front plate on the boiler.
This morning I am told there was hardly any fumes detectable at all. Make ya wonder if this has been affecting ya mum.
On the talk after the boiler was done, Paul M. asked me if I had had his bill for baling and straw supplied, I said yes and I had paid it 10 days ago. He said he would check with his wife if she had seen the cheque. phone call came this morning to say she had not seen it, must be lost in the post.
I wrote another cheque and took it down to Eccleshall at around 10am, and as I came in site of his house, the postman was just delivering and had opened the electric gates and walked through, I like a fool drove through and when I had put my cheque through his post box the bladdy gates had shut. Well I tried for twenty minutes to open these sodin gates,
I rang his house number and knocked on all the doors and nobody was in, I looked round the farm and all was quiet nobody there either. Then I stared to look for another way to get out with he landrover, that was if he had not locked his farm yard gate further down the road, no it was only latched. So I back tracked back to the house, and a very narrow bit between some bushes and the house, with a bit of luck if I rush, it it should get through.
The disco (land rover) was at the far end of his house ,so I drove over his lawn round the conservatory round some flower beds round some bushes and dived at the gap, and got through, the feeling was like getting out of Alcatraz, free at last down the farm yard round the buildings and undo the gate and home.
At lunch time I rang him and Mrs M answered the phone, I told her I had delivered the cheque and put it through the letter box, she said yes thank you she had picked it up and also with that same delivery the postman had dropped thirty seconds before me was my other original cheque 10 days late not franked but delivered at last.
All that impatient agro for nowt
As a foot note the M. family about eight of them are off to Florida on boxing day morning for 10 days and they were all out in different directions shopping just at 10 am this morning.
As you always say Jayne, It was hard shit, on my part.
Love Fred

Monday, 9 June 2014

Fathers Fingers

Fathers Fingers

After breakfast on a Sunday mornings, when all the essential farm work had been done, father would tell us tales of when he was young, and as with this one, the more blood and pain the more we enjoyed what he told us.  He lived and worked for his uncle Dan, a single man with a house keeper, he must have been around thirteen years old when this happened.
The mowing machine blades had to be very sharp, a blade that had gone dull would make it very heavy pulling for the pair of horses pulling it, one slip and the fingers were off.
This is my father in 1940 mowing grass for hay with his pair of shire horses. It was with the same sot of outfit that he lost two fingers as a school boy in the mid 1920's 

Fathers Fingers

Father lost two fingers, while mowing hay one day,
He was helping Uncle Dan on the meadows, not at all at play,
Only thirteen started working, horses in the shaft,
The mower blocked with grass, clearing it by hand (how daft)

He lifted blade and went round back, it was still in gear,
One horse did stamp his foot at flies, gave the blade two shithers,
This was just enough no doubt, cut two fingers in one go,
He never said how he stopped the blood, there must have been a flow,

The little finger it was off, above the lower joint,
The next was off above second, clean cut to a point,
Hospital took one off at knuckle, and stitch the flap of skin,
Tuther left half a stub, of finger what a sin.

No safety men to bother them, it was get him back to work,
They healed so slow, it was a blow, but not a time to shirk,
A motor bike he bought one day, to get about much quicker,
It had a belt to drive, hand clutch, and blow up tyre,

Mother he did find one day, while he was out on bike,
He gave a lift and she did find, how cold the bike could be,
Knit pair of gloves did she, to fit his fingers short,
Then regularly did see her out, and then began to court.

Round the table Sunday breakfast, father told us tales,
Of how he helped his uncle Dan, less fingers and no bales,
We had to always asked him, to tell us that again,
Of how he lost his fingers, and all about the pain.

Owd Fred

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Never in my life have I ever had time to look back

Never in my life have I ever had time to look back and reflect back on how things have changed, until now. We always have worked hard, the harder we work the more we seem to be chasing our own tails, trying to go faster and faster and no better off in the end.
It’s either that or get left behind, and now that I have jumped off the Merry-Go-Round, it’s become very clear that it is a job for the younger generation and time for them to show their metal.

In the distance on the right is the old farm house and farm where we  were brought up, we moved  in 1943 to there when I was five years old

On this land we love the best

We are watched from way up high, on how we treat our land,
This land that we are caring for, for generations stand,
To stand just where our fathers stood, see it through their eyes,
And how the fields and lanes have looked, neath the clear blue skies.

The misty foggy mornings, dew drops on all the leaves,
The sunrise on the meadows, the bird song in the trees,
Long shadows in the evening, as the sun sets in the west,
Trees and bushes in full bloom, on this land we love the best.

Owd Fred

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Mother’s Monday bubble and squeak

Bubble and squeak, its the left over boiled potato's cabbage carrots and any other vegetables mashed together cold and fried up in a big frying pan until the underside is crisp and toasted, then turned and turned until its all piping hot then served up with cold sliced beef and pickled onions or almost any pickles.

I might add that a double portions of everything was prepared for the Sunday lunch time, only half used, then the deliberate left overs saved mother having to prepare Mondays lunch from scratch as Mondays were always her "washing day" when she was very busy.  

Is it, "bubble and squeak",  know as that all over the country/world I wonder, all I know it was always used round here, or is it just our local name for the meal?

Go on put me a reply on here I'd like to know? 

 On Mother’s washing day, she had not much time to prepare a meal and this was regular Monday fare. When it began to smoke it was time to turn it over in the pan, and heated in minuets.
Mother and father's wedding day 1930, they must have worked hard through the depression of the 1930's/40's to bring up us kids and on through the second world war.
They knew how to be self sufficient and live off the land, nothing was every wasted, they always said when they killed a pig we used everything except the squeal.

  Mother’s Monday bubble and squeak

At lunch time every Monday, mother made bubble and squeak,
Potatoes’ and cabbage and other veg, sometimes even a leek,
All ingredients left over’s from Sunday, put in big pan to fry,
Crisping on the bottom then turned, plenty of heat apply.
 Cold beef sliced and put on plates, contents of pan dealt out,
Pan was a big one, it had to be, six plates to fill no doubt,
Pickled onions and pickled red cabbage, went with this a treat,
All home made stored in big jars, made the meal complete,
Jug of gravy thick and hot , often a skin on top,
All of it devoured with relish, plates cleaned off the lot.

Owd Fred

Monday, 26 May 2014

Norfolk Four Course Rotation

Norfolk Four Course Rotation (1950’s)

At farming college we were told, how important it was to learn,
The basic four coarse rotation, good yields and a living to earn,
Roots Barley Seeds and Wheat, it kept the ground in good heart,
This was the basic rotation, from which to make a good start.

Roots you hoed around until, the leaves met in the row,
Smother any smaller weeds, nowhere for them to grow,
Always left a good clean field, and always in good heart,
Next crop had the benefit, of getting a jolly good start.

Spring barley follows the roots, too strong a land and it will soon go flat,
Drilled in March when the soil warms, an even plant stand begat,
Under sown with grass and red clover, establishing the best
Docks were pulled and thistles ‘spudded’, first crop for to harvest.

The seeds grow on, once barley’s cut, light sheep graze back end,
It tillers and bulks tremendously, for winter feed depend,
Red clover with its vigorous growth, its roots beneath to match,
Fixes fertility down in the soil, from side to side of the patch.

If you graze the seeds and keep it low, doesn’t produce the roots,
Fertility from the sun to leaves, only small leaves stems and shoots,
Mown for hay grown to maturity, two years if you can,
Will give you a wheat crop you never had, at least that’s the plan.

When the hays been cleared, and a fresh good cover of green,
Plough it in, green manure, the clover roots have been,
To fix the Nitrogen in the nodules, best crop of wheat you’ve seen,
No sprays or artificial needed, to return to a proper rotation I’m keen.

Organically speaking, this is the way, make the sun and the leaves,
Draw the goodness naturally; a shower of rain receives,
Plants are working how they ought to, compliment each other,
A good plant stand, and big broad leaves, weeds you hope to smother.

Owd Fred

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Father Used His Slipper

Don't know whether anyone remembers what whitewash was/is, its burnt lime mixed with water in a bucket or tub the brushed onto the cowshed walls. It dries very white, and very often also used on the ceilings in the house. After the coating of lime had been refreshed a couple of times a year for the previous forty or fifty years there builds up a thickness of lime and this eventually becomes brittle. 
When us kids started jumping about in our bedroom above the kitchen, flakes of whitewash would fall onto fathers head and into his paper as he was resting and reading after a long day’s work. This he did not appreciate.

Father Used His Slipper

Father always used his slipper, when we were being naughty,
But we were quick and dodged about, for he was over forty,
He chased upstairs into our room, he thought he’d got us now,
We dived under both the beds, to reach us he dint know how.

Looking back he never hurt us, he slapped his slipper on the floor,
The noise and shouting gave us speed, that we never had before,
Old farmhouse two lots of stairs, up one set and down the other,
Dad soon got out of puff; and shouted for our mother.

A couple of smacks across the bum, and on he put his slipper,
And told us off when we did wrong, but never was he bitter,
Respect was what he taught us, and elders must not cheek,
Listen to what you’re being told, with P’s and Q’s must speak.

Pillow fights at bed time, when we should be fast asleep,
Jumping high up to the ceiling, were not counting sheep,
Our room was buv the kitchen, and noise he couldn’t stand,
Heard him rushing up the stairs, for piece and quite demand.

When he came in, were in bed, feathers floating round the light,
Pretending were asleep, bulb still swinging from the fight,
Settle down we had to now, if he came up a second time,
We’d all be in trouble, twas the stairs that he had to climb.

He had done a hard days work, and had settled in his chair,
And running up the stairs at night, enough to make him swear,
Slipper slapping on the treads, we knew what he had got,
So fast asleep pretend to be, looked like he’d lost the plot.

Owd Fred

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Life’s Time Clock You Cannot Beat

You get up in a mornings and have a good think, not so much of what yuv got to do today or at any time in the future, but back in life on what you could have done if ya ad ya life over again.

Life’s Time Clock You Cannot Beat

You wonder where the time, and all the years have gone,
They pass so quickly now, going one by one,
Season’s sequence come in turn, no control have we,
Wind and rain and sunshine, day and night decree.

Snow and frost to turn the year, new start for New Year,
Spring and summer, showers and the sun appear,
Autumn fruits and berries, winter for the birds to eat,
Repeat with little change, life’s time clock cannot beat.

Owd Fred

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Counting livestock

Counting livestock

It may seem to most folk a simple thing to do to count a herd of cattle or a flock of sheep, but quite often you don’t get a second chance to re-count at that time or in that place. If you miss count and your one down or perhaps gain one, and think they are alright you clear off to your next job thinking they are all okay, when that one you mis-counted might be stuck in a peaty ditch or in trouble away from the main group of animals, and left overnight could be found dead by morning.
With sheep, counting them as they leave a fold, they will run out at high speed, so a narrow gap wide enough for two sheep to get through is usually about right, any narrower and two will wedge in the gap and block the flow of sheep. It was an old practice to count the sheep by the score, (in twenties), if you look at that counting up to twenty, they are all one syllable words, into the twenties and beyond they are two syllable which does not make for fast counting.
So count up to twenty and drop a pebble into ya pocket, or if you have less than two hundred sheep you just curl one finger up for every twenty you've counted. That’s okay as long as no one or nothing distracts you when you grab or need to prevent a hurdle from falling and you cannot remember how many fingers you had curled up. Pebble in the pocket was a surer way of recording how many score of sheep you have, and can go beyond how many fingers you own.
Cattle I find easier to count from slightly higher vantage point when they’re spread out grazing, I take the view of the group like the top half of the face of a clock, and bring the imaginary finger round the clock counting all whom it passes over, then do a check count going the opposite way across them to get the same count again. This way of counting is okay when you have cattle all of the same age and size, the problem come when the suckler cows have calved and young calves are wandering about around and behind their mothers. It’s best to establish that all the cows are there, then go round and count all the calves in a separate count, check counting each time, it just reassuring when you get both counts the same.
When one is missing for some reason or other, you count and recount just hoping that the count will come right, then begin the search for who is missing, most of the older characters of the herd would be missed and know who you’re looking for. Some of the younger ones, all of whom would no doubt have the same father/sire may all be the same or similar markings and out of a group of fifty or more its near impossible to know which one is missing.

Cows that are calving will go off on their own, and very young new born calves will get their first belly full of milk and find a bog of rushes or a bog of nettles or even duck under the wood fence and lay down and hide in the under growth, as nature tells them to at that age. 

Very often the only way of finding them, is to find the mother who when alerted will raise her head looking in the direction of where she knows the calf is, very rarely will she walk and take you to it.

This was our leader (a good leader) for almost ten years.

So counting is not just for fun, it’s a serious matter to know if one is missing, if they get out through the broken fence it more often than not be a number missing, if you have a bad leader of the herd (If she gets in the habit of getting out) the lot will have gone.  Keep the leader happy and contented and the herd will be happy. As with people, they are all individuals, all have their own characteristics and mannerism, and you can almost read their minds as well.

 Owd Fred