Sunday, 22 March 2015

Farm safety a Topic on most peoples minds

Farm safety a Topic on most peoples minds   

A Topic for as long as I can remember.

One man went under the back of the dray on his knees and pulled the hitch pin, it was a bit tight but he managed, only to realise that the load and the tractor had started to move forwards.

Over the years I have had upwards of fifteen school leavers, some starting while still at school, but every one without exception had some sort of bump or miner accident on the way. I recall one who was loading strawy box muck by hand with me, before we had fore end loaders. To get a bigger load this lad jumped on the top to level out the load way above the trailer side boards, but just above him was a pair of electric wires, very old and ragged insulation. He stood up and caught the back of his head on the wires and he dropped like a stone right into the pile of muck we were loading. He was okay but wondered what had hit him, and it turned out to be one of many near misses that lad was to have. After a number of road crashes he got killed at the age of twenty two, by just shear speed.

Way back in my twenties I recall taking a Friesian bull up the lane about half a mile, he was always all right to lead in the yard , but as we got nearer to the field of heifers in the distance he started to bounce, and picked up speed and I still clung onto him. Then being along side of his shoulder I was getting pushed toward a steep hedge bank, on top of the hedge bank was a three foot hawthorn hedge, some eight foot in all. Next thing I knew I was standing the other side of that hedge still hanging on to the long chain that I was leading him by. Basically I had run along side of the bank gradually being pushed higher up it, and with the speed I had thankfully cleared the hedge on top. I have used that lane all the years since and can never come to terms of how I cleared that height, but when you are in a tight spot, its surprising what you are capable of. Fortunately I was not on the end of his horns.

One of the most dangerous things that lads tended to do is to hitch a tow chain to the top link point on the tractor. In the days I am talking about there were no cabs or roll bars, so a rearing tractor would turn over backward flat onto the driver in the spilt of a second. I made a point of never leaving the top link pin in place and not send any lad out with a chain.

Another lad had a narrow escape when he was out with the rota spreader, he drove the wrong way round the field, in other words he drove on the slurry that had been spread from the previous load, and on going up a slight gradient and along side of the slope as well, the spreader started to swing sideways directly towards a steep drop, the tractor start wheel slip and also hung back in the same direction, then the whole outfit was sliding backward and gathering speed. This I witnessed with my own eyes from the distance, and saw it all disappear down the steep drop, the whole thing stayed in line and as it came to a stop the front of the tractor whipped round into a jack-knife. No damage was done, the lad hung onto the steering wheel and stayed in the seat, it was one of those thing that you can see from the distance, and could predict what was going to happen, but could do dam all about it.

As a lad myself on that same slope a gang of us were loading loose hay onto a four wheel dray towing a hay loader behind it (A Pitcher). This was before we had a baler and before contractor balers were about, we were just going down this same slope, when the pitcher blocked. Two men were on the load and I (the lad) was driving the tractor, so I stopped and got off to help unblock the blockage. Both men jumped down off the near full load and decided that the pitcher had got to be tilted forwards onto its nose. One man went under the back of the dray on his knees and pulled the hitch pin, it was a bit tight but he managed, only to realise that the load and the tractor was moving away from him. Nothing was said but he thought I was on the tractor until he looked and saw me behind the pitcher helping to unblock it. NO ONE was on the tractor. By this time it was nearly up to running speed and heading for this steep slope, fortunately the one chap had a good turn of speed and mounted the drawbar and reached forwards and turned the steering wheel across the slope and it all came to a stop. The tractor did have a parking brake but it had not been applied, the pitcher mechanism was wheel driven and being blocked held the outfit when we stopped. Moral of this story is to always apply the parking brake every time you get off.

To see one of these Hay Loaders working, tap in “Hay Loader” into Google and there is a You Tube clip of Mormons working an almost identical thing that we used to have.  

Another example, one about my grand daughter and the ride on lawn mower a couple of years ago. At the age of twelve she was getting very keen to learn to drive and the only thing I would let her drive then was the lawn mower. Set her going, showing he the gears the clutch and throttle. After ten minuets it was only top gear and only full throttle. This went on for quite a few weekends until one afternoon she came walking /limping back to the house. On investigation she had mistook the turning circle of the mower and still going at full throttle had rammed it full speed ( about seven miles per hour)under the back of a parked tipping trailer.

The mower is one of those with a racy sloping tapered front so wedge very tight under the back cross member. She had slid up the seat and bumped her knees and the steering wheel had gone into her tummy. The mower was recovered with a scratched bonnet, and the grand daughter had a very severely dented pride, and bruised knees. It was a thing she will always remember and a good lesson learned without too much grief.
I won’t let her drive the old tractors, the ones with no cab and no roll bar, she now has learned to drive the Agrotron and is very happy about that as it has a good radio and tape player. Its still got its doors and still got all its windows, the foot pedals are light and easy for her to use, the seat and the steering wheel both adjust, so she customises them, and now got used where all the gears are, and four wheel drive is just a rocker switch. The only thing I cannot get her to learn is when turning (chain harrowing) at the end of the field, on short ground turn away from the ditch and circle into the field. Turning towards the ditch you have got to judge your turning circle very accurately or you will soon be in the ditch.

This one is about my workshop, and the pile of tools that are thrown on the bench some of which missed, a bit of clear floor space to walk up the middle, and off cut and other items deemed to be too good to throw away are saved and left where they land. Only I know where everything is, it’s just a matter of finding it.

Axle Stand and his Mate Jack

Axle Stand and his mate, Hydraulic Jack,
Live in the workshop, right at the back,
When they’re called out, together they work,
Lifting things heavy, they call it teamwork.

Adjustable Spanner, he lives hanging on nail,
Expected to fit every nut, in the box he assail,
He’s first responder, carried into the field
No hammer to hand, a thraping to weald.

Poor old Hack he looses teeth from his blade,
Abused and used to cut anything for what he’s not made,
Hack Saw gets hacked off, thrown on the bench,
Landing on top of him, a great heavy old wrench.

Open and Ring Spanner, Siamese twins in the tools,
Kept in a rolled bag, with pocket like modules,
Twenty of them, all different sizes,
Clean and in line should win all the prizes.

Pillar the drill , stands aloof in the corner,
His own leg to the floor, and quite a loner,
His energy comes down, a wire from the switch,
Grips bit in his chuck, turns quick without glitch.

Ball Pane is Hammer, comes in a good many sizes,
Large for the blacksmith, hot metal he teases
Small one that the Mrs. keep’s, in the cupboard draw,
And ones in between, working all have loud guffaw.

Claw is another member, of the same clan,
Pull bent nails, blame the hammer and not man,
Soon break the stale, when pulled and abused,
Thrown onto the side, no stale and unused.

We know how it should be all tidy and straight,
But never got time to put back all polish its late,
As long as I can walk up the middle OK,
And find where I chucked it, neat pile to display.

Owd Fred

It is one of the worst errors to suppose that there is any path for safety except that of duty.
William Nevins

Sunday, 15 March 2015

The foundation rock of our family.

This I wrote to the memory of my dear wife who passed away 27 February 2015 , May she rest in peace.

Eileen, The Foundation Rock of our Family.

A house is just a pile of bricks, and then becomes a home,
A home is where the heart is, where you’ve no more need to roam,
It’s there to rear our family, it’s full of love and joy,
The work and play remembered, our memories to deploy.

Mother in our household, her love was all around,
She was the kingpin of the family, she was our queen uncrowned,
For guidance and opinion, she would always do her best,
To keep us close around her, our home it was her nest.

She always filled the pantry, as if a famine was about to hit,
Would “feed the forty thousand”, it was her life’s remit,
A slice of cake a cup of tea, was the least she ever gave,
Her laughter and her happiness, on our minds it is engraved.

She was generous and giving, and would give you her last dime,
“It would always come back in other ways” she told us many a time,
But now she’s left us “home alone” and taught us how to live,
Be kind to all of those around you, and best of all forgive.

With deepest love and affection,


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

I Dunna Miss the Owd House.

I Dunna Miss the Owd House.

This I have written some 3 months (of winter) after we moved into our retirement house in the village just a hundred yards west of the farm itself. We can look out of our new double glazed windows at the back over the fields that we have toiled in over the last thirty years, and watch the progress of the seasons and the wildlife round the wood, and all the birds that come down to the feeders in our new garden.
 I fear that some jackdaws have followed us, but they have nowhere to nest, no open chimneys, the Goldfinches have finally found where we are and feeding here in numbers, particularly when the school closed at Christmas. When the school feeders go empty the Goldfinches flood over to our feeders, and at half term, mid-February, had as many as twenty four in the garden in one go.

A beautiful sight, the bird table and feeder is only twenty foot from the big sitting room window. There are two pairs of Robins, Wagtails, Sparrows, Great tits, Blue tits, Coal tits, Greater spotted wood pecker, Finches, Ring necked doves, a pair of Wood pigeons and a cock pheasant walked in a few days ago.

If you want to class this as “stock feeding”, then that’s what ov dun all me life, and there’s nowt more satisfying than standing back to watch them come in to get there fill. I shifted the nest boxes from the farm house walls and positioned then up here, there seems a lot of interest in them already.

So, Retirement aint too bad after all.     

There are ten chimneys, seven of which are crammed full of jackdaw’s nests. There is a ventilation brick hole in the back of the now coal/log shed, (it used to be a ‘down the garden’ loo,)
A pair of jackdaws (novices obviously) decided to build a nest through that hole, the pile of twigs soon built up, when the pile was removed later in the season there was four barrow loads of sticks, there would have been more than that but for the fact I was lighting the Rayburn fire every morning from those pile of stick for three months. They were very persistent, and failed to nest.

I Dunna Miss the Owd House

(I was asked)
        Did you ever miss the farm, now that you’ve retired?
No I aint is that reply, cus me brain it’s been rewired,
Still up early in a mornings, n’ I conna lay in bed,
So I write about it when it quiet, just pickin up the thread.

Miss the movements and the sounds, of livestock bout the place,
The Jackdaws on the chimneys, noisy sparrows round they chase,
Feed troughs keep them happy, as they eat to get their fill,
Then fly off up to the workshop roof, out in the winters chill.

 I dunna miss the work, and I dunna miss the cowd,  (cold)
N’ I dunna miss the evy liftin, sacks of feed, too heavy not aloud,
Me bones are brittle, muscles weak, they’re all wearing out,
So tek a bit o notice now, and ya know ya not sa stout.

Miss the calvein and the lamdin, the regeneration bout the farm,
See them take their first breath, n’ keep them well away from harm,
Watch them grow with great pride, as they run about the grass,
With mothers chasing after them, getting all harassed.

I dunna miss the owd house, with its drafts and rattlin doors,
The Rayburn in the kitchen, and the winding corridors,
Frost inside the window panes, as out a bed ya get,
N’ down ta put the kettle on, forecast’s cowdest yet.

Love it in the new house, with its double glazing feel,
The insulation, n’ central heating,  conna believe it’s real,
Comfort for our owd age, that got to be our pledge,
N’ a little bit of garden, with its well-trimmed privet hedge.

Owd Fred

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

The UK Weather and it patterns

The UK Weather and it Patterns

Here in the UK  we have a relatively calm weather patterns, not too cold and not too hot, the same with the wind and rain. I suppose its because we have only a small land mass compared to US and Australia.

I know I'm a bit owd fashion, but I remember my mother always "did" the weather for us at home, and all the family, she could give a "forecast" based on what stage the phase of the moon was at, and watching the house barometer closely. Even into her eighties we could contact her and the first thing was, the weather, and was advised during the summer, when to start hay making or combining and so on, and the prospects for the following week.
From what I learned from her, the weather will set a trend in the first few days of the new moon and that trend will often follow through till the next moon. We have just had a full moon, so it seems the weather, the jet steam is set in place for another couple of weeks.  Come to think of it mother would have never heard of the jet stream or what it does, bless here.

Thats me on the right in  the picture in the snow of 1947 when the roads to the village were blocked solid with drifts, it was all dug out by hand for a mile in both directions.

Whether the weather

Whether the weather, be hot or be cold,
Weather is weather, can’t be bought n’ sold,
Whether the weather, be dry or be wet,
The weather dictates, if you freeze or you sweat.

The signs in the sky, and the phase of the moon,
The tide and the waves, they all call the tune,
We take what it sends, and bow to its power,
A storm and a twister, or just only a shower.

The sun comes to bake, the soil into dust,
Sun gives the warmth, warm the earths crust.
Sucks up water, form clouds gives us rain,
Rains on the earth, n’ begins over again.

Owd Fred

The trouble with weather forecasting is that it's right too often for us to ignore it, and wrong too often for us to rely on it.
Patrick Young

Sunday, 11 January 2015

These spanners could be upwards of a 150 to 200 years old

Its been a while since I wrote a new blog, what with the disruption of retirement and the house move.

Well the first month of retirement is taking a bit of getting used to, its a different routine with no cattle to worry about, in fact this week if we still had cattle we would have had to go through  a second 60 day TB test.
That is a worry that would turn most folks hair gray, not knowing how many cattle will go down as you wait the three days before the test is read.You scour through looking at the growing lumps on the neck on the morning of the vets visit, but until the lumps are measured and the relationship in size between the top lump and the lower one are compared with the chart the vet works from to decide if it is a pass or a fail and in some cases an inconclusive.

The hedge cutting has been going on well, being up to date on the schedule with work in front of me, the only hiccup now is that the rear wheel hub on my tractor has started leaking oil.
I have no doubt that over the years of work it has had to contend with all sorts of rubbish and wire and string  in particular get wound round the bearing and oil seal and eventually gives way and now needs replacing. Its quite a big job the bell housing has got to come off and stripped down to enable a new seal to be installed.

We are still sifting through sorting and burning up things that needed a second look at, as when downsizing like we have, most of the surplus stuff has got to go. To sell if there is a demand or market for it, or to dispose of  to the charity shops, who do a good job of recycling useable goods to folk in need, and the rest to the scrap yard if its iron.

And yes my workshop will not fit our new situation either, there are tools and spanners that came with the different implements when new, old plough spanners, tractor spanners, wheel spanners, and  a set of wheel hub spanners.
Now these wheel hub spanners are by far the oldest I have got, by wheel hubs I mean the wooden wheels that are found on the old farm carts and for that matter on wagons on the wagon trains we see on the old films opening up the USA new frontiers. We have a number of the old brass wheel hub caps about with the name of the makers embossed into the casting, these are polished and on the front room fire surround shelf.
There are five different sizes of these ring hub spanners tied together, I bought them from the wheelwrights sale when he retired thirty five years ago. It just happens that I now live in the wheelwrights house, so these hub cap spanners will have to stay. He would be using them on a regular basis when all the local carts and wagon would be taken to him and his father before him for repair.   These spanners could be upwards of a hundred and fifty to two hundred years old.

This is an old Ransomes  5 in one Plough spanner that came with the big Ransomes Hexatrac plough that I pulled with the County Crawler tractor  
See the outfit here    (Copy and paste this link) 
This is a Bamlet horse drawn mowing machine seat, the mower has long since been sent for scrap, surprising what turns up when these old scrap rucks are turned over.

This is a beam hook that used to be in the old dairy in the house on which the pig would be hung to be gutted and halved and left to set for a week before cutting up

We must beat the iron while it is hot, but we may polish it at leisure.
John Dryden (1631 - 1700)

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Four of us Thought were Strong

It seems that were not allowed to let any employee's lift more than 25kgs these days, building cement is all in 25 kg paper sacks, potato's are sold in 25 kg paper sacks, no one is fit enough to lift the 50 kg sacks any more.
When father bought his seed wheat from the seed corn merchant it always came in "one acre sacks" and they weighed 88 kg, (we called it one and three quarter hundred weight) like I said to sow an acre of ground.

Before combines were around, wheat was threshed in the stack yard and wheat going for bread making was weighed off into 75 kg sacks stitched along the top by hand, the buyer most often supplied the hessian sacks.

  1. Hand would sack hoist
These were lifted onto a hand wound sack hoist up to shoulder height and a man carried it across the yard into a shed to wait for the haulage firm to collect it. It was a big joke with the older men when us lads had a go at carrying them as we staggered with our legs platting under the weight one and half times our own weight.
The sequence for loading a wagon was different, they were brought out of the shed on a sack truck where two men would lift them between them with a short stave of wood under the bottom quarter of each sack.
Another awkward and unwieldy dirty job was unloading dried sugar beet pulp in hessian sacks, the sharp dry crumbs  of pulp would go down the neck of ya shirt and after half an hours work and sweat would start to make it very sore. These again were in 64 kg hessian sacks (a hundred weight and a quarter) but being so bulky they stood four foot six high and almost  three foot wide, so to carry them they had to be well up onto shoulders and neck just to balance and walk with them.

I Remember the Threshing Machine Mishap

This was in the winter of 1948 when I was 10 years old. We were baling the straw and it was the binder to (save thatching straw) that was stood by. This binder was top heavy in shape and as the drawbar is lifted it weight shifted to behind its axle and the drawbar would fly into the air, and left the binder flat on its back. ----

We were playing around the yard; the threshing machine was here,
It took nine men to operate, and came three times a year,
Ozzy was the contractor, he was owner of all the machines,
One was stood aside this day; it bound the straw in sheaves.

Four of us thought were strong, see if the drawbar we could shift,
With a struggle got it off the ground, then lighter was the lift,
This machine was on two wheels, and top heavy was in shape,
At shoulder height it pulled us up, ten foot we dangled no escape.

Ozzy came with face like thunder, chewing on his pipe,
We dropped and run so fast, and hid away from gripe,
He found a whippy nut stick, and chased us when we showed,
All morning he kept it up with vigour, till too tired was he to follow.

Took five men to lift it back, as we watch from a distance,
For years he told us with a smile, you have to find the balance,
He will always be remembered, for his pipe, and oily cap,
A wirery man with hump from age, cheerful spoken apart from mishap.

Owd Fred

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Who would like to be a farmer?

Things have slowed down for me this last ten years or so, but reflecting back on the work we did looking after the farm and its stock, and how it got done defies belief. 

We were always brought up to "work with the weather" not against it, and when the time was right put ya back into it and get the job done, this applied mainly to the field work. Almost the same thing applies to livestock, when a sheep or cow or a sow is giving birth, you need to know about it and be there on the spot. 

If an animal gets injured or needs help, be it domestic or wild, every thing else gets dropped to attend to its needs, a helping hand when needed. You never know when you want a hand ya self, and I can testify to that on quite a few times over the years, injuries ta ya self being most inconvenient. There were no  mobile phones back then.

There was never a start and a finish to a day or a week for that matter, with milking to do at 6am that gave the latest you got started and that was every day of the year.
Between milkings and after evening milking there was crops sow and tend, and later to be harvested for winter feed. Fences to maintain, hedges to cut and machinery to look after, with very little time spent on feeding ya self.

I suppose ten hours a day every day was about the norm, with exceptions when hay making or corn harvest when fourteen to eighteen hour days were not unusual.

The old farmyard 1970's, an old tractor tyre leaning against the milk churn stand and old churn dairy. The B250 International tractor standing just above the railings on the right

The loft door open where all the cattle feed corn was stored and below where the root crop mangols and hay bales were tipped through to be fed to the cows

The tractor that was used nearly all my working life, (see top picture) now restored to its  original as new look. Here its had its wheels painted and new fenders put on  in 2005, now fully restored

Who would like to be a farmer?

You've got to love the country, you've got to love the land,
Got to put the time in, and to anyone lend a hand,
It’s a lonely job at times, work for hours out in the fields,
To grow the grass and rear the stock, and aim for better yields.

Early morning milking’s, and all day to growing crops,
A long day mending fences, the work it never stops,
The working week 40 hours, done that by Tuesday night,
Every week and every month, end of the year in sight.

You stop to help an injured bird, binding up it wing,
Or tend a birth of calves and lambs, new life the world to bring,
Day and night you’re on call, to help all those in need,
To all the folk and stock give life, on this we set our creed.

 Owd Fred

It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one's dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent.
W Somerset Maugham  (1874 - 1965)

Sunday, 16 November 2014

To refurbish an old Ransomes plough

Mr Wettern bought this Ransomes Hexatrac plough new fitted with six furrows.
Due to his heavy ground and the horse power available he reduced it to five furrows, the spare plough body got lost in the intervening years.

When more modern hydraulic ploughs came available, this plough became redundant and formed the foundations of a large scrap ruck, where it stayed for over forty years.

Mr Wettern advertised it in the Tractor & Machinery magazine August 2003 edition Vol 9, he took phone numbers down, of quite a few people who wanted to view it , but with it being still under a large scrap ruck, he had made a list of phone numbers.

When eventually the plough was uncovered, a month or so later he had mislaid his list, this is how I came to buy the plough over the phone  unseen. I rang him again

Mr Wettern has always been keen to follow the progress of his plough, and I  have spoken to him on a regular basis.

The Ransomes Hexatrac five furrow plough the day it arrived at my place, I soaked all ceazed joints and bearing with diesel

I built a trailer especially for it, It has a three ramps for the wheels of channel iron so they will not slip off, and a flange along each side to keep it from slipping off in transport

I replace mole boards and all wearing metal and got all joints and bearing greased , bought and changed all 35 grease nipples then took it out to get used to setting it up and get all metal bright

Winter job painting it up

First plough match after doing a fair bit of ploughing at home

The finished plough

The matching outfit won best turnout a couple of times

First draw up the field and lined up for the second run

One of my better finishes,  they did not all turn out as good as this, just a matter of practice
I have taken the  outfit to many ploughing matches and working weekends, it has always created a lot of interest, particularly the plough.

It covers five foot of land each bout,  the plough stewards are now in the habit of allotting me a double end plot.

Against two furrow ploughs I didn't stand a chance as the in’s and out’s are a bit ragged, and the finish is not as trim as with the  wheeled tractors.

I did get a second in the Tern Valley ploughing match in the novice trailed class. On a couple of occasions the outfit won best turnout when it was newly painted.

This was how the outfit was transported out o plough matches on two purpose made trailers 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

My Old Ration Book from WW2

I still have my old Ration book, mother who was in charge of all our ration books had saved it from when rationing finished in 1953-4 and returned it back to me a few years before she died.   

The Staples are going rusty, but its all complete as it was when rationing finished in 1953/1954

Coupons had to be cut out with a pair of scissors on the relevant page by the shop keeper, and he had a rubber stamp to say which shop you had been to.  In my book the top stamp was the butchers, all other headed items came from the Co-op

The nearest thing to a super market back then was the local Co-op which always seemed to have the greatest range of goods on its shelves, and an assistant had to find and bring all items to the counter for you. Here the items were totted up with a pencil written on the wrapping paper used for your goods. The old tills flagged up the total that the assistant put in the till and when the cash draw sprang open with great haste it rang a bell, paper money went under over centred spring clasps and farthing’s, half pennies, pennies, thrupeny pieces, six penny pieces, shillings often called a bob, florins a two bob piece, and half-crowns worth thirty old pence, all went in separate compartments in the same draw, these were added up into pounds shillings and pence £. s. d.  No adding machines, no computers, just a pencil (not even ball point pens, they had not been invent back then) and paper

 In the most part of rationing we were self-sufficient in bacon and frying fats, beef and beef suet had to be bought in, eggs, we always had a lot of hens, and always had so called chicken for dinner at least once a week every week. In fact it would be old hen, you know there was always one or two out of a couple or three hundred, that looked a bit pale in the wattle and not laying, or got a chalky arse end, they were never allowed to die, mother could see the ones that just stared looking that way then she would ‘neck’ them and in the pot without even going cold.  I dunt know how come the egg coupons had been removed from my book, but she was in control of all the ration books.

Shop keepers rubber stamp

Unused sweet coupons on the right hand page
 I can hardly remember having sweets as a kid, not that they were never bought, I never craved for sweets or chocolate, but I can recall a time in my very young days being encouraged, nay forced to eat a square of dark chocolate.
This put me off chocolate and sweets for life, it’s only in recent years (fifty years down the line) that I have become partial some now and then and quite enjoy the taste. The reason for the dark chocolate was, and we each had to have a square, was that it was for worms, we had worms, itchy bums, could not sit still, and like mothers do she up turned us to have a closer look to confirm her suspicions.
She went to the Boots chemists next time she was in town, (she went every Tuesday and Friday) and asked the pharmacy what to have to clear the problem up. It was a bar of dark chocolate all in a Chocolate wrapper as would any other chocolate, and that night before we went to bed, for a treat she gave each of us a square of this chocolate, one at a time, and without the others seeing the reactions of the first one. It was strong and dark, nothing like the milk chocolate we had been used to, and she had to make sure we chewed and swallowed it without spitting it back out.  The taste lingered in ya mouth what seemed ta be all night and that put me off chocolate for life. I suspect the remaining squares of chocolate would not be saved until Christmas and handed round to the relatives, or used up by the all-knowing adults of the house hold.

To the credit of that incident, I still have all my teeth, and only go to the dentist for them to be counted and polished every six months or so, and that is because when I had two new knee replacement’s the surgeon instructed me to get my teeth checked before the operation, as a rotten tooth could make the replacement knee joint to reject and in that way could lose my leg.

You can read that story in full here

And the dentist blog here

Saturday, 1 November 2014

A very small cog in this world of ours

It’s amazing to realise after all these years what a very small cog we are in this world of ours. It’s only this last few years that we have had a computer and the World Wide Web, with all the information that it contains, and how you can speak to the other side of the world speaking face to face on the screen.
Kids brought up with all the technology have no problem getting the yeds round it, but as an oldun, it takes some time for it to all sink in.  Take re-setting the digital clocks about the house, including the one in the car and on the weather station and such like, all have a different sequence of pushing buttons and flashing numbers to be re-set with an OK button of one sort or another. Doing the job every day it would be okay, but only twice a year ya forget the sequence of buttons to press.
Back seventy odd years ago there was the wireless, and I mean wireless, although it did have a an aerial wire draped around the house to the shed down the garden, it was powered by a battery, a glass accumulator with two terminals on top and two loops with a short cord for carrying it when it had to be taken down the local filling station/ garage, to be re-charged. When the commentary of a big boxing match was to be broadcast, there would be a mad rush of everyone who needed the accumulator to be re-charged in readiness for that night. Then it progressed to a mains radio with its three buttons on the front and a dome speaker all built into a cabinet almost as big as a refrigerator.  

Then in the early 1950’s we had our first television, in black and white, with its screen rolling up and blinking until father got it tuned in properly, there was only the BBC to watch and that had a test card on in between the odd program they put on in about three periods of the day, one of which was a kids program at tea time, and the others were mainly news programs.

The early telephones were wired via telephone poles and strung across into the houses that needed a phone, the school the shop, the estate and most of the farms, the rest of the village folk had a public telephone kiosk. Some phone lines were party lines that were shared with another house in the village, they had the same number, and had to listen to the pattern of ring tone to know if it was intended for them, if the other person was nosey, they could pick up and listen in to your conversation. Back then they were all just a two digit numbers and you could call anyone in the village without an operator that was marvellous, to ring outside the village you had to ring the operator who would plug you into the number you required, and further afield you may go through a number of operators into the region you required. As more folk wanted a telephone so the numbers were up graded to three digits, then as the exchanges became automated we were six digit numbers, and on again to the familiar ten digit numbers only to be eclipsed by the up and coming mobile phones of which were the size of a house brick. 

I saw the first sugar beet harvesters come in, the first combines, the first round the cowshed milk pipe lines into churns in the dairy then eventually into bulk milk tanks, first bulk milk collections, the first cow cubicles invented 1960,  and first milking parlours. On tractors, the first with a cabs, just enough to shelter you from the weather, the first Land Rovers were immediately preceded by the American army Jeep, the Land Rovers were demonstrated ploughing harrowing sowing and with a power take off drive, sawing wood on a saw bench. Not many machines were PTO driven back then.  I saw the first drum/disc mowers that rapidly took over from the finger bar mowers, the Ferguson tractors were first with the hydraulic ploughs and implements to go with it, then all makes of tractor followed that same idea.

Father was well up to date when he was the first in the local area to have a milking machine, three unit buckets and a spare to change to when one was full, this was 1938. He had broken his arm, so he was a one handed milker, and the local farm merchant’s sales man came calling wanting someone in their area to buy a milking machine, to get the ball rolling, and that was what he did. They installed it and fitted an airline right through the cowsheds, and stayed for the first few milking’s to ensure it all worked at the right vacuum pressure, and soon got others around the local area to purchase one.

We were always brought up to be self-sufficient, in our farming, our repairs and improvements, in our replacement for the milking herd, in hay for the work horses and cows, though when tractors came along he had to buy the fuel. He always commented that when the tractors were resting in the shed, they were not burning/eating fuel like the horses always did, but then again the horses did not use fuel when they were working.

It was drilled into us that you cannot farm without common sense, look at thing how they are, not how you would like them to be, work with the weather it no use going against it and it impossible to get a good seed be when the ground is sad and cold and end up as it dries with large clods of soil that when they dry out are as solid as bricks 

   Educations What You Want

Educations what you want, or that is what I’m told,
Get on in life and see the world, seek your pot of gold.
More to life than toil and sweat, let others soil their hands,
Let education guide the way, nine till five, five days a week demand.

Over the years most folk done this, for better jobs they travelled,
Men they left the land in droves, off into town they pedalled.
With better money they bought a car, get about much quicker,
Then travelled even further afield, became the city slicker.

Owd Fred

This is the picture I woke up to first thing one morning, ya wouldna do that in the city 

This was taken of the cows and calves down the lane looking through the lower branches of a chestnut tree

So, no I did not leave the land and did not become a city slicker, I followed the family’s tradition of farming, and who knows where the next fifty years will take us with the ones who now have custardy of the land. Twenty cows were the norm in the 1930’s when father started farming and when he retired 1975 it was sixty, then for my generation in the 1990’s a hundred cows was a very large herd.
Now I have just retired 2014 three farms in the village have been amalgamated to form a new herd in two units of three hundred and fifty cows and four hundred and fifty cows all out wintered and all dry over Christmas to calve in February, also rearing all their own  replacements.
Almost would have been un-believable just a year or so ago, the same goes with the technology and gadgets such as sat nav’s on tractors that monitor seed and fertilizer according to the strength of the land to obtain the optimum yields.
I am way out of my depth and rapidly becoming out of date, it’s a younger mon’s job (below 60) and it still only works properly with common sense, and the most common sense thing fa me to have done is to retire, should have done it five years ago. While the mind and body are both willing and you are happy to carry on. So now it has happened and I feel happy to sit back and just watch how the modern younger farmers cope, and look closely for how much common sense they use.

One pound of learning requires ten pounds of common sense to apply it.
Persian Proverb

A handful of common sense is worth a bushel of learning.

Author Unknown