Sunday, 20 April 2014

The Dentists Chair

Reared back up in jerky chair, feet back on the floor,
Blood runs back into me toes, me bulging eyes back in once more.
This is a copy of a letter/email to a friend of mine down the road who is recovering at home from a serious operation.

Dear John,
As you may have gathered, we haven't got much on at the moment, and a bit of time to bgguer about writing. As you must know when I had my op on my knees they for some mysterious reason they insisted I see a dentist, somatt ta do with a rotten tooth could make the metal in the joint reject. But John you must have been told this for what op's you've been throooo.
Before my op, I had never in me life sat in a dentist chair, or had anyone fiddle with me teeth, so I booked in at Castlefields Surgery dentist, pay a monthly standing order ca-chinnnnnnng, (their cash till) , and pay them a visit every six months. I have been there now twenty times in the last ten years and still they have done nothing other than scrape and polish. I have cleaned (brushed is what they call it) my teeth once before each visit on the morning of the visit   (Nothing to be proud of according to Eileen, but then I call it sour grapes as she cleans her teeth two time a day every day and almost always has to have something done ca---chinnnnnnnng)
So I am getting to know my dentist quite well, for they know they only have to count them and poke round them, and find time to fill in the ten minuet slot allotted to me. She asked me (the dentist), as I think they are asking every customer, what is my experience or my views while in the dentists. (She will wish she hadn't). However when Eileen has to go back next week for TREATMENT on her teeth   ca-chinnnnnnnng, I will send the following.

 Are you Sitting Comfortably

 ( in the dentist chair with a cup of what looks like weak ribena ta rinse ya mouth)

Sit looking through dark goggles, up into a light,
Shining from a wobbly arm, just a tad off white,
Hovering just above ya head, no sun tan will you get,
Just a beam of light to shine, think it’s my sunset.

A two inch square to tissue, n’ a cup weak bilberry juice,
Open up me north and south, now there’s no excuse,
They always seem to work from behind, where you cannot see,
And speak in muffled tones aloud, casual and carefree.

The high-tech chair jumps down a step, head below me feet,
A clink of tools are gathered up, dentist adjusts her seat
Forelocked head of curls appear, eyes behind a shield,
A tool gripped in big knuckled fingers, now begin to wield.

A rear view mirror push down me throat, see my teeth all round,
Couple of inches further down, me tonsils will be crowned,
Only counting what I’ve got, choking on me tongue,
Call themselves a dentist, hope they won’t take long.

A hook appears before me eyes, gripped tight in dentist’s fist,
“Open wide and move ya tongue, see what’s on my checklist”,
Hoover pipe switched on too high, clean me mouth outright,
Wunder what’s found in the bag, when they clean it out at night?

The foundation of each tooth is cleaned, n’ fertilize the roots,
With gritty paste they brush right in, just like cleaning boots,
Reared back up in jerky chair, feet back on the floor,
Blood runs back into me toes, me bulging eyes back in once more.

They’ve no idea what we go through, the trauma and the stress,
Quaking in our shoes they ask, have we got your right address,
Your medication up to date, just got to tick the box,
N’ sign it at the bottom, “Oh I see you’ve had small pox”.

New appointment six months time, ring you day before,
Make sure were live and kickin, and brushed me teeth once more,
Got to have them checked agen, keep the rot at bay,
A healthy head of teeth’s the aim, is what I should portray.

Owd Fred

I think I should be charging them for ten minuets of entertainment and filling ten minutes of their day, there aint much wear and tare on their equipment when I go.
When you hear about the horror stories of people's visits to the dentist, it crosses my mind as what could happen if you really upset your dentist and what revenge they could inflict. So John I closed my eyes and this is what I envisaged.

I'd Hate to Upset my Dentist

I'd hate to upset my dentist, the revenge they could inflict,
You cannot see their face at all, but their eyes you can depict,
A knee upon my chest to hold, me down while they inject,
Now I know what mole grips are, from my tool box nicked,
To grip and pull and twist with glee, a sound tooth they would eject,
With pain and blood and sweat and tears, I know that I've been tricked,

Touch of a button on the chair, and upright I am flicked,
To sway and stumble for my coat, this I should predict,
Tooth ache still there I am aware, no strength have I object,
May be better next time round, think this was why I panicked.
I wake up from my nightmare; on the calendar I've ticked,
When next to see the dentist, their appointment time is strict,

"Be here at ten, you know the rules", then with her finger clicked,
Computers will not bend the time, and cannot be unpicked,
So to Nicola and her crew I beg, your boots they will be licked,
I will tell all those I know, you are the best in this district,
And please don't bare a grudge with me, my age it does restrict,
I'm old and grey, come what may, so please let's change this subject.

Owd Fred

All the best Fred.

Dentist, n.: A Prestidigitator who, putting metal in one's mouth, pulls coins out of one's pocket.
Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Farm Sale

No I am not having a farm sale here, but a couple of years ago a neighbouring farm sold up and I sent quite a few items up to be sold back then. Now another neighbour is having a dispersal sale and again I am contributing some more of my dead stock, to be sold at his sale this April 11th . (2014).

I have been selling off items of machinery privately over the last three years as and when a buyer came up, but you get down to the last few thing that could still be worth selling for further use. I have been scrapping all that what I call "useful reusable metal", you know, the sort of metal that you can make or mend stuff with, but it’s got to go at some point in time.

 Everything is on a priority list, and I keep gleaning through my workshop scrap heap, some of my tools are the old Whitworth and AF spanners, but I fear they are getting frightfully close to going to the crusher.




The Farm Sale

The years have come the years have gone, its time to sell the lot,
And now I've got to organize, the sale of all I've got,
To pull it out the sheds and then, n’ lay it out in rows,
For all and everyone who comes, to have a dam good nose.

The tools and all machinery, bought it years ago,
Ploughed the land and worked it, encouraged crops to grow,
Harrowed all the grass in spring, soon as the Daff’s appear,
Cattle would be turned out, and sold that big fat steer.

Job to know where to start, and find things long forgotten,
Things we used like brushing hooks, n’ pitch forks stale gone rotten,
Shovels spades and muck forks, all standing where last used,
Some I've had a long time, and some they were abused.

Workshop that’s a nightmare, the scrap ruck will increase,
Wading through the junk to find, that lost now found tailpiece
All the things you save as spares, but things move on apace,
Out dated now and far too small, with newer one replaced.

The tractor that’s seen better days, reliable it has been,
Well used and got a loader on, could do with a dam good clean,
Worked it hard all day long, every day of the year,
Last day now it has arrived, and to the field must steer.

A second one it’s older still, with a draughty cab,
Tyres worn and torn about, n’ the paints a little drab.
Steering wobbles brakes no good, useful to have about,
Its winter when it wonner start, I have a dam good shout.

Be sorry to see an empty yard, and all the cleaned out sheds,
The damp old house abandoned, and empty old farmstead,
Silence now for few a weeks, until new folk move in,
Then once again start from new, new livestock make a din.

Owd Fred


My Parents Learned us Everything


Its not until you have your own kids to bring up, that you begin to realise the job our parents had bringing us four lads up during the war.
The rationing and the scarcity of things we take for granted now. I remember seeing my first banana in 1948, mother made us eat it mashed and spread on bread and butter. 


My Parents Learned us Everything

My parents learned us everything, how to live our life,
Helped to show us how to cope, and all about the strife,
Little things they matter most, and manners we did learn,
Respect for other people, and trust that you must earn.

Father taught us how to, feed calves and milk a cow,
Breed pigs and rear them, then taught us how to plough,
How to cut and lay a hedge, to fence the cattle in,
Hang a gate so it would swing, show us where to begin.

Mother showed us how to cook, from very early age,
Pick the peas and beans and mint, and parsley and the sage,
Tasted all that she prepared, even before it’s cooked,
It always met with our delight, tasted better than it looked.

Experience takes a long time, to build up over years,
Learning takes a lifetime, and sometimes brings you tears,
Knowledge is what you try to gain, path of life to smooth,
No one knows how long we’ve got, wounds in life to soothe.


Owd Fred

Thursday, 10 April 2014

We had a crafty fox

We had a fox that's crafty, and the hunt they could not catch,




The North Staffs Hunt lawn meeting at Seighford Hall 1960

This went on for couple of seasons, no other fox to match,
Gave them the slip every time, along the brook he walked,
Then back to Moor Covert wood, where he put up and stalked.

Over the years you get to know the wildlife on your own "patch" so to speak, the rabbits at one time, there was literally thousands about, with grass fields along side the woods bare of grass for a hundred yards out.  And its no good growing kale or mangels  anywhere near a rabbit warren, or try to grow oats or wheat unless they were a field or so away. Then Myxomatosis hit the rabbit population and brought then almost to zero.
Pheasants were not too a plenty, as they relied on what they hatched naturally. There was two older men who took the role of game keeper's, and they always kept the Magpies in check as they would take eggs and young poults, some times trapping them and often shooting them, and there did not seem to be many birds of prey about either.
There were never many Badgers about in them days, I've no doubt they would have been kept to reasonable numbers by the keepers.
Foxes seemed to be in good numbers with an earth in most of the larger woods, and an artificial earth in one of our smaller woods, this was always kept open when they were hunting when the natural earths were stopped.
At one time ( it was in the 1960's )there was a crafty fox that dodged the hunt for two or three seasons, he was put up from the Moor Covert wood, his wood, adjoining our fields. This was always the first to be drawn as it was near the railway line and foxes were encouraged to chase westerly direction into the heart of the estate land.
From a vantage point in the village church yard, you could see the top end of this wood, and often see from the distance when the fox had been flushed out, chasing across a field then through a small wood and on across two more fields. By the time all the hounds had started hollering and picking up the scent, the fox was a couple of fields in front of them and the hunt followers on horse back a fields distance behind the hounds.
After a half mile chase, this one fox always turned and headed for the back of the village and paddled along the shallow brook for quite a way then into the house back gardens. From there he turned into a direct route back to his own wood, this took him through the back of Church Farm where I farmed at that time, often going up the stack yard, but more than once came through the farm yard through the cattle and past me while feeding stock.
From there he went through the Church yard and along within twenty or thirty feet of the spectators who witnessed just what he was doing, then another quarter mile back to the Moor Covert.
The hounds lost the scent every time at the brook, and the huntsman was reluctant to let the hounds into the well cultivated gardens to try to pick up the scent again. After five minuets milling about the hunt gave up and went on to draw another wood.
On his outwards run the fox was lobbing along fairly quickly, but on his return run when the hollering hounds went quiet, the fox was doing little more than a slow trot. He would have not run more than a mile each time out.
This was repeated about three times each season, and for more than two seasons, it was thought he must have died of old age, or caught by the hounds inside his own wood, too slow to get away from them.
It got that spectators would talk to the fox, as he passed by them, and a good group go up there especially to see this old fox in action
Hunting has now been banned and no more meets on the village green, it was not too bad a mess on the turf fields where they chased when there were only ten or twenty horses, but towards the end when there was a danger of the hunting ban, it got up to ward a hundred followers. The hunt would encourage most of these to follow lanes and tracks, so as to minimise the damage.
While it was a good spectacle looking from the distance, what with the three or four red jackets and others meticulously turned out in black jackets and light coloured jodhpurs, and the horses highly groomed and newly shod, a greater proportion of then latterly had no idea of how to behave in respecting gates and crops. So thankfully the ban came about, balking the hooray Henry's and the hooray Henrietta's from gathering in huge numbers to parade the fields and tracks. I was always for the hunt and supported them over the years until the number of followers suddenly went up.

 We Had A Crafty Fox


We had a fox that's crafty, and the hunt they could not catch,
This went on for couple of seasons, no other fox to match,
Gave them the slip every time, along the brook he walked,
Then back to Moor Covert wood, where he put up and stalked.

They block the earths the night before, keep fox out on the top,
Then put the hound in at far end, and draw the wood none stop,
Out pops this crafty fox, cross the field through Ash Pit wood, 
On again across some fields, the hounds pick up the cent its good.

Hounds a hollering two fields back, can see from Church Yard hedge,
Fox he disappeared across the back lane, for the brook I pledge,
Walked down stream to the gardens, turning back towards the wood,
Heading up the Church Yard, along by where hunt spectators stood.

Not in any hurry now, trotting back from where he came, 
The hounds have stopped a hollering, and lost the cent again,
Happened every time he's put up, he knew a trick or two,
This crafty fox he must have died, of old age, the hunt he did outdo.

Owd Fred

In fresh snow, of which we don't have very often or for very long, it's always interesting to see the foot prints of hungry wildlife, and where they are going almost invariably looking for food.
Foot print of people, the size of their feet, and how many, and where did they go. It's the same with vehicles with different size tyres and should they really be up there.
The prints in mud which we seem to have for a good proportion of the year, you notice if someone else as been up the lane since you went last, any fresh cattle foot prints, and which way did they go, and are they my cattle that have escaped. Without knowing you have become a tracker


 Tracks Across Fields

Tracks across the fields, and tracks off down the lanes,
In the snow in the mud, fresh tracks still it rains,
Paws n' feet n' hooves n' boots, wheels with grippe tyres,
Big and small, heavy and light, not long then they expire.

Every print has a tale to tell, on who has crossed your path,
See the direction that they went, and if they're causing wrath,
Follow to see where they go, and if they came back that way,
Intruders can see, up to no good, or if they're out to play.

All the prints tell a tale, the pattern they leave behind,
The claws on paws and the gait of the stride aligned, 
There's webbed feet and long toes, belong to who knows,
And there's birds that land, and take off like the crows.

There's cows and there's calves, and horses with shoes,
See how many have passed, that way from the clues,
Tyres leave prints be it bikes or cars, tractors and all,
Speeding and skidding, or getting stuck when they stall.

You can read every where, who's has been up that way,
Prints and tracks tell a tale all and every day,
You may be alone, but someone's been up there,
A crossing of tracks, in the lane be aware.

Owd Fred


The English country gentleman galloping after a fox- -the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

As Old as what you Feel

My owd dad always said that, "you’re only as good as your feet", but then he was talking bout, horse’s cows and bullocks for meat.

As Old as what you Feel,

They always say that your, as old as what you feel,
Only now I like to have knap, after almost every meal,
And in the night get disturbed, got to water me hoss,
So now I think I must be old, me legs I cannot cross.

The old body that I’ve worked with, all my living years,
Getting tired and old as well, confirming all my fears,
Joints get stiff and muscles ache, cannot move so fast,
Stumble over rough ground, getting all harassed.

I cannot read the paper, until my glasses I must find,
Remember where I put them, must be getting blind,
The misses she has got them on, cannot find her own,
Each of us both as bad, but then we shouldna moan.

Feet I conna reach right now, back won’t bend so much,
Got to have chiropodist, corns and toe nails to retouch,
Dad always said that, you’re only as good as your feet,
But then he was talking bout, horse’s cows and bullocks for meat.

Hair it has all gone grey, and very thin on top,
Need a hat in winter, the freezing cold wind to stop,
No insulation gainst the cold, a wig I got in mind,
But then its two lots of hair to comb, as well as going blind.

Ya mind is getting slower, reactions far too late,
The young ones like to drive, my driving they berate,
A dent or two I don’t mind, but it frightens them to death,
When they’re sitting in the back and cannot catch their breath.

So now I try to look relaxed, put me feet up on me chair
Central heating turned up, find me glasses and combed me hair,
Slippers on oh what bliss, the telly’s far too loud,
Lost the bloody controller now, good job were not too proud.

Owd Fred

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Gettin outa me chair

This Comfortable Chair of Mine

Now I’ve turned seventy years of age, the family bought a chair,
I had it for me birthdee, I was consulted and aware,
Had to have a go try it out, to make sure it did the job,
High enough back n’ foot rest, n’ not too soft a squab.

Its huge when it stands there, and a cable from the plug,
A controller in ya right hand, and I fit in it nice and snug,
A button to lift ya feet up, and a button to lower the back,
And one to lift you up again,  was soon getting into the knack.

Now I fear a power cut, when me feet are up in the air,
Back is down and ya feel a clown, and conner git art o’ the chair,
Like blady big tortoise on its back, belly up swinging ya feet,
Shouting fa help come and get me, help me git art o’ this seat.

This hasn’t happened but I fear, could when I’m home alone,
Going to sleep that is easy, but then I shouldn’t moan,
If someone knocks at the door, takes a while to lift me right up,
They knock again and again,  I feel like a fly blown old tup.

I must tell you the cover is leather, cow hide has gone into that,
The cost of it was tremendous, the cow she must have been fat,
What we paid we got short changed, insides of the cow had gone,
Price of the chair, price of a cow, beef and steaks we had none.

Now I’ve got well used to it, my inhabitations flew out of the door,
Sit in it after my lunch and tea, go to sleep and have a good snore,
My appreciation what they bought, it suits me down to the ground,
Thank my family again and again, this comfortable chair they found.

Owd Fred


Well it did happen about 9pm one evening, about two years on from when I had the chair, we had a power cut, and this is the saga of what happened.



The Great escape “Getting out of Me Chair”

I was stranded. The misses was out of earshot, and it was too dangerous for her to wander about in the dark and come down stairs.

 Well it happened, it was going to happen sometime, and it happen the other night, and we had a power cut. Sitting comfortable as you do in the evening watching TV, we had just had a cup of tea at supper time and the misses had gone up to bed, I was half an hour behind her but just before my program had finished the electric went off.
 As you may know the family bought me a new chair for my 70th and I was well flat out on it, feet well up and head up just enough to see the TV, and as I said the chair is operated from the plug on electric, so I was stranded. The misses was out of earshot and was too dangerous for her to wander about in the dark and come down stairs as well, so as described in my thoughts about this situation where I warned myself about a power cut. (see the verse above) Having sat for five minutes thinking it might come on again   shortly, it did not happen, so I was  like a tortoise on its back.
It’s a recliner chair, the back goes down almost flat and it lifts ya feet up level and its operated with an electric controller off the mains. I started swinging my legs up in the air, and eventually managed to roll out of the chair over the arm rest, landing on my "tin" knees on all four in the middle of the carpet. This was the safest way to move about to the door when I clawed my way up the door post, felt my way along the hallway to the office where I knew where I had got a windup modern torch. All this took best part of fifteen minutes and went up to check her indoors was Okay.
We both sat in the dark on the bed discussing the programs we had respectively been watching and sat laughing about my "great escape".  However the power was restored after about an hour and half and I went down to "drive" my chair back into its parking position, ready for my next knap after lunch tomorrow.

On reflection if I had been patient I could have stayed in the chair until it came back on, but at that time of night I also have the need to "water me hoss" so I demonstrated to myself how agile I was, and just wonder how it will pan out in say twenty years’ time when I'm "OLD". 


The best way to escape from a problem is to solve it.  Alan Saporta

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Memories of Olden Day's

It makes you wonder as to what the world will look like in another lifetime's distance ahead. Most jobs about the farm were done by hand in the 1940's, tractors were just coming in.
Milking machines just starting to get about, father was the first to have one in our district, he broke his arm and could not milk by hand for a few weeks. Loose housing of milking cows and milking parlours 1960's followed by the invention of cubicles.
Fertilizer in paper lined hessian sacks, then the plastic bags came in, now in bulk or large half ton bags.
Where will it all go by say 2060  and beyond.

Memories of Olden Days

Memories of olden days, back then when I were a lad,
Of things we did and said and learnt, copied from me dad,
Of learning how to talk and walk, and manners got to learn,
Tell the truth and honest be, and respect you’ve got to earn.

Never cheek your elders, and address them with respect,
Speak only when you’re spoken to, and answer them direct,
Muttering and Laughing, in your hand it is the worst,
Hold it back don’t let it out, even if you fit to burst.

He taught us how to use his tools, and how to work real hard,
How to earn an honest crust, in the workshop cross the yard,
To make things useful on the farm, repair them if they broke,
Keep the place all tidy, he was a very fussy bloke.

He taught us how to plant the seeds, in garden and the fields,
And as they grow look after them, to grow and give good yields
Harvest time to bring it in, and store for winter use,
To feed the family, feed the stock, to run out’s no excuse.

To rear the calves and pigs and hens, and feed them every day,
Milk the cows and collect the eggs, and sell without delay,
Pigs to take to bacon weight, and sows to get in pig,
And start the job all over again, it’s always been that way.

Thinking back orr seventy years, the basic things the same,
Treat others how, you would like, others to treat you the aim,
Manners make’eth man were told, its only yourself to blame,
Rules of life are rules to keep, it’s always been the same


Owd Fred

Farmers Skills

As you may appreciate, this is written from experience.
You get much better at jobs the more practice you have, so while it may look a bit slapdash, it can mean the jobs done before the weather breaks.
Time and tide wait for no man, or so the saying goes, and if ya doing sommat while waiting for the breakdown man, ya may as well do it ya sen.

Farmers Skills know no Bounds

Over the years you learn most skills, enough to get ya by,
Welding plumbing laying bricks, ya mind ya must apply,
Laying concrete with a slope, grids and drains dig in,
Mend the roofs and spouting, protect the stock within.

A builders job is in his hands, a trowel and shovel need,
Pegs and line and spirit level, practice now for speed,
Anyone can do the job, an eye for accuracy to lay,
Bricks and blocks to make a wall, mistakes are on display.

Plumbing now with plastic pipes, and easy joints push fit,
Gone are the old iron pipes, a lot of work admit,
Cut with hacksaw threads to cut, paste and hemp wound on,
Elbows tee’s and feral joints, with pipe wrench now all gone.

A breakdown now, repair with weld, another job to learn,
Clean the rust off on the joint, with weld rod at angle burn,
Steady flow and curled up ash, or that is how should be,
Mine resembles pigeon ***, in lumps and holes for me.

Old nuts and bolts of any size, they build up in the shed,
But finding one the right size, too thick too short the thread,
When ones found that’s okay, but now you need a pair,
Then the jobs impossible, enough to mek ya swear.

Cotter pins they’re soft and bend, can never get them out,
Top and tail it breaks off, in hole with rust we clout,
The right size nail comes handy, tail end bent round double,
Get you moving, harvest time, and gets you out of trouble.

Farmer’s skill’s know no bounds, most thing he will tackle,
Jack of all trades master of none, but saves a lot of hassle,
Do the job to how he likes, no one to tell that’s wrong,
Confidence in home made skills, build and make real strong.


Owd Fred

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Yes om gettin on a bit, just about the same age as PW, the regulars will know him, I may have exaggerated some of the verses below some what, but there's no hiding the thin grey hair the extending waist line, the glasses and the not quite so brisk walking. Oh yes we have got a dinge in the back bumper of the car, I backed it into the tractor hedge cutter leg. 



Passed another Mile Stone

I have passed another mile stone, each year it is the same,
Birthday’s come and birthdays go, the excitement’s getting tame,
Not sa quick at doing things and hair it’s gone all grey,
After lunch we have a nap, and bed times half past eight.

Walking’s steady, runnings out, pace me sen a bit,
Now I have a shooting stick, on which I often sit,
Got to eat lot less now, the weight it going up,
I’d be sent to market now, if I were a fat owd tup.

Eye sight not too bad but, cannot read without some aid,
Glasses need up dating now, the eyes they have decayed,
Should have longer arms to read, new glasses conquer that,
They hit you in the pocket hard, on the old ones I have sat.

Driving very cautious, conna see what’s round the bend,
Reactions slowing up now, braking distance I extend,
Reversing on the mirrors, the distance hard to judge,
Backing up to a big old gate post, no wonder it wunner budge.

I thank my lucky stars that, I’m being looked after very well,
Still here on this old planet, writing down me tale to tell,
Recording what 0've done in life, and all the folks we met,
Come hail or rain or sunshine, but we still get bloody wet.


Owd Fred

Friday, 28 March 2014

On this land we loved the best


This a very pertinent or should I say relevant poem right now, as of yesterday (25th March 2014) I gave up the tenancy of 200 acres of the farm after 35 years, and just for now we still have the farm house and a few fields that surround it. Then later in the summer we hope to retire proppa to a house a 100 yards down the road.
Our move prior to that, was also only about a 100 yards where I had started farming in 1960 and stayed for twenty years.
My move from the home farm where we were brought up to my first farm was half a mile, all within the village.
When I get up in a morning at the farm house, track to the bathroom and then off back down to the kitchen to put the kettle on , I have done 65 paces, in our retirement house it will be all of 10 paces. Think i'll have to join a gym or sommat crazy.


Since I wrote this a couple of years ago  "On this land we love the best"  it should be renamed   "On this land we loved the best".



They always told us as kids that there is a pot of gold at the base of a rainbow, don't even bother looking now.


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

A mind without instruction can no more bear fruit than can a field, however fertile, without cultivation.
Cicero (106BC - 43BC) 


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Good old Seighford Village

Good old Seighford Village


It’s a job to know where to start, as the village and its occupants from years gone by are in the St Chads Churchyard, every time you walk through the grave stones you find yet another family name and of a trade’s men farmer or farm workers and all their families.
Up until the 1940’s we were almost self sufficient as a community,

The wheelwright made all the gates built all the farm carts wheel barrows and feed troughs and was also made the coffins and the  undertaker.

The blacksmith as well as shoeing all the horses in the area repaired the machinery most of which was horse drawn, hooping wooden wheels with the wheelwright, right down to making iron work in the old fire places trivets, chimney cranes and the like.

In The estate yard there was a handyman come builder come Thatcher who, a man who could do he plumbing, most of that was lead pipe, the galvanized iron pipes were only just coming in.

The village shop carried most of the basic necessities like salt sugar flour and also the Post Office, and also sold paraffin for the oil lamps in the houses and cottages, and for the tilly lamps used to carry outside and in the farm buildings.  

 The School. Children walked in from as far as two miles away in all directions, from the surrounding hamlets. The head teacher at one time was also the tax collector and would put pressure on the children when money was due.


The Pub. In the Holly Bush, Beer was brought up from the cellar on big jugs, and the customers would sit at a scrubbed wooden table with all sorts of oddment chairs. It would be all local people who walked or came on a bicycles.



There was six farms actually in the village, the land and fields belonging to them spread out in all directions, although on the area of peat land on the east side of the estate, everyone had a portion, so it fragmented all the farms. There would be around fourteen farm workers all in tied cottages, cottages that went with the job, and as tractors came in the number of workers reduced, milking machines again reduced the labour force, old cottages went into disrepair and were eventually pulled down to form a building site for new house’s.

The Landlord lived in the “big” house on the bank just out of the village, rent was paid to him on rent days “Lady Day”, and “Michaelmas day” at the Holly Bush pub. When you had paid the rent to the agent, you were then invited to have a drink at the bar on him. I was told by my father that in his early days on the estate they all went to a hotel in town to pay their rent, and stayed for a slap-up meal.  It was a change of estate agent that change that to the pub in the village.


A man's homeland is wherever he prospers.
Aristophanes  (450BC  -  388BC ) 



Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Money, in life it is a must.

It aint till ya get to my age that you start to cash in ya assets, then realize you had done just like our old man did years ago when we always thought what a tight arsed old git, and  done the same thing me sen without knowing it.


Money, in life it is a must.

If there’s one thing ya conna do, without in life it is a must,
Fa comfort and for energy, it’s always boom or bust,
Ta buy or sell, to try to swell, to savings bank ya thrust,
Surplus money, it’s hard to save, when yov earned an onest crust

Ya money’s what ya need right now, n’ savings got to raid,
With all the bills paid up to date, as the tax man wields his blade,
With nothing left on the bottom line, red ink now displayed,
Ya start again n’ work like ell, in blood n’ tears n’ sweat yuv flayed.

Be persistent don’t give up, it’ll come right in the end,
Money now, you’ve got it saved, and too dam mean to spend,
Tight as a ducks arse, that you are, still make do and mend,
Ya conna tek it with you, when six foot down impends.


Owd Fred



Money is like a sixth sense without which you cannot make a complete use of the other five.
W Somerset Maugham  (1874 - 1965)







Tuesday, 18 March 2014

What are you like on your farm for regular mealtime breaks

What are you like on your farm for regular mealtime breaks, the morning start and knockoff times. We were brought up as kids to all sitting down at regular times every day to eat together.
It was (and still is though I don't milk now) a 6.30 am start, that was dictated by the fact the churn milk collection lorry arrived in the village at 8am promptly and the milk had got to cooled and labeled by that time.

We were the fifth pickup and it was around 8.20am by the time he got round to us, we all, that is the cowman and the tractor driver who carried the milk and fed the calves went for there's as well. Father had his pigs to feed and clean out, us kids had hens ducks and geese to look after, and back at work again in half an hour, or school for us.

In the next village their milk wagon collect the milk about 10.30am, and they did not start milking until 8 o'clock, with a lunch time of 1.30pm, whereas our lunch break was always mid day for one hour, with milking at 3.30pm and all finished and fed by 5.30pm. In the next village it would be a 7.30pm finish.

Our time routine was more convenient particularly when the threshing machine came, he liked to fire up his outfit a 9am promptly with a 12.00 to 1.00pm break and finished at 5pm. The threshing outfit went from farm to farm up the village and a man was "borrowed" from each farm to make up the gang of nine needed for that job. Every one was on the same time routine and it worked out well.

Even now some seventy or so years later, I have kept to that same time routine. I can arrive in the house at meal times with the table ready laid, the Misses likes it, it gives her a regular routine knowing exactly when to expect us.

When I started farming on my own at Church Farm, we had the church tower and the church clock looking down at us all day from about a hundred yards distance with the chimes every quarter hour and gongs for the hour.

St. Chads Church tower has two clocks, the one you see is facing south, the other one faces east towards Church Farm.
The thatched house in the picture was a farm cottage, now demolished

Church Farm House facing East looking onto the church tower,  the farm buildings to the right in the picture

When we were at the distant field working we had the railway run through both The Beeches farm fields and the Church Farm fields, and between 3.15pm and 3.30 there would but three express steam engines flying through at full sped, the "Flying Scotsman", the "Caledonian" and another named train. ( It was said by the railway men that they had to clear that track of slower local trains at 3pm to allow these three train to go though at full chat)  That was the time we went to take the cows down for milking.

 I might add here that the gang of six lengths men who maintained the two mile stretch of line, (four lines, two up to London, two down to Scotland, I could never understand that.) would jump over into the corn field at harvest time and help stook the shoffs of corn when we were bindering, (wheat or oats) and two church bells later (14 days) would help load the farm wagons. Also at this time there was a goods engine driver who would slow right down by those fields and get his fire man to roll big lumps of coal off the tender for father to collect them later with the farm cart. They were all in the home guard together, and contraband got exchanged there every week, farther taking mainly potatoes and for the engine driver a half a pig, it was transported under the local bobbies nose by the wheelwright in a coffin. but thats another story


A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure.
Segal's Law.



Friday, 14 March 2014

The Farm Sale


No I am not having a farm sale here, but a couple of years ago a neighbouring farm sold up and I sent quite a few items up to be sold back then. Now another neighbour is having a dispersal sale and again I am contributing some more of my deadstock, to be sold at his sale this spring. (2014).

I have been selling off items of machinery privately over the last three years as and when a buyer came up, but you get down to the last few thing that could still be worth selling for further use. I have been  scrapping all that what I call "useful reuseable metal", you know, the sort of metal that you can make or mend stuff with, but its got to go at some point in time.

 Everything is on a priority list, and I keep gleaning through my workshop scrap heap, some of my tools are the old Whitworth and AF spanners, but I fear they are getting frightfully close to going to the crusher. An old brushing hook kept for trimming nettles and briars off the electric fence, I doubt if the younger generation have ever heard  of  or would know what it is, and that was the way we cut all the hedges not fifty years ago. 
An old scythe, when you see them using them on the television programs, it make you cringe at the mess they are making. not a clue how to use or sharpen it. The old men, before they had lawn mowers would be cutting the lawns around these stately homes, not as short I grant you, but it was always a very tidy job. 
The last serious job I remember with scythes was to cut a "road" round the corn fields (wheat barley and oats, for those way over the pond). It was absolute sacrilege to run a wheel, or run corn down with wheels back then before the days of the combine. A few days before we were ready for bindering, two gangs of three would head one each way round the outside of the fields of corn, one scything, two picking up the crop into bundles and tying them with what we called a bonce of straw, no string. It was just wide enough for the old Standard Fordson to travel pulling the binder for the first time round.    

You just get carried away, just thinking back on how we managed, setting too with a two furrow plough in a fifteen or twenty acre field in winter with no cab, but that just another tale for another day.

The farm where we were brung up, my first farm, my present farm, and the house we are retiring to all in one picture, seventy five years all in one village. 

A village fete advert mown into some stalky grass in thirty foot letter, (by some silly bgguer who has nowt better to do ) it made it into all the local press, photo taken by the local gliding club, the tug plane pilot.

  I just wish it was as easy and simple as I make it sound in the verse I writ a couple of years ago,
 --see below   

The Farm Sale

The years have come the years have gone, its time to sell the lot,
And now I've got to organize, the sale of all I've got,
To pull it out the sheds and then, n’ lay it out in rows,
For all and everyone who comes, to have a dam good nose.

The tools and all machinery, bought it years ago,
Ploughed the land and worked it, encouraged crops to grow,
Harrowed all the grass in spring, soon as the Daff’s appear,
Cattle would be turned out, and sold that big fat steer.

Job to know where to start, and find things long forgotten,
Things we used like brushing hooks, n’ pitch forks stale gone rotten,
Shovels spades and muck forks, all standing where last used,
Some I've had a long time, and some they were abused.

Workshop that’s a nightmare, the scrap ruck will increase,
Wading through the junk to find, that lost now found tailpiece
All the things you save as spares, but things move on apace,
Out dated now and far too small, with newer one replaced.

The tractor that’s seen better days, reliable it has been,
Well used and got a loader on, could do with a dam good clean,
Worked it hard all day long, every day of the year,
Last day now it has arrived, and to the field must steer.

A second one it’s older still, with a draughty cab,
Tyres worn and torn about, n’ the paints a little drab.
Steering wobbles brakes no good, useful to have about,
Its winter when it wonner start, I have a dam good shout.

Be sorry to see an empty yard, and all the cleaned out sheds,
The damp old house abandoned, and empty old farmstead,
Silence now for few a weeks, until new folk move in,
Then once again start from new, new livestock make a din.

Owd Fred



No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.
Booker T. Washington  (1856 - 1915)




Tuesday, 4 March 2014

The Smallholding and White Cottage.

The Smallholding  and  White  Cottage. 

This cottage opposite the pub was occupied by Mr and Mrs Clark.  It was a small holding of about forty acres, as on all the farms on the estate, it had some close land, and some on the meadows down the Moss lane, and some over the railway down the Moor lane. This house had only one main room, and a scullery, then a lean-to on the back of the house, this was used as a dairy to cool and store the milk churns over night, until the milk man came the following morning.  Upstairs it had two bedrooms, and the only privy was a little brick and tile loo, under a bush, down the garden path.  In this house they brought up a family of six children.


This is the house to the smallholding in the centre of the village, the house is still there  but the farm buildings, see below have been converted into a house. In this picture above, the building on the right was the wheelwrights shop and between that and the house is the roof of the two bay hay barn. The original milk churn dairy was the small lean to at the end of the house, and full milk churns would be hand rolled along the length of the house to the road side (left)  for the 8.15am pickup by the milk lorry

This was the cowshed to the smallholding before it was converted into a house, the sliding door in the gable end facing the road was the new dairy  built when the house was parted from the farm. The wicket on the left of the black railings was put in when the bulk tank was installed so the tanker could connect his pipe to their tank. At the right hand end of the railings is the old wooden churn stand to hold the four churns that would be lifted on there for the lorry from the dairy could just roll the full churns directly onto his wagon.




This is a picture from the back of the smallholding showing the new wheelwrights shop on the left that Jim and Bill built, and on the right the old low tin shed the their father Harry worked in. the hay barn and the chimneys of the old village shop and post office  above in the centre of the picture

Old Harry Clark, I can only just remember, (1940's ) not a very tall man, and quite round in his later years. He was a wheelwright by trade, and worked in a low tin roofed shed down below the wooden pole hay barn. He was a man who enjoyed a joke, and quite mischievous in a nice way.  It was said that when bagged fertiliser first came out, Charlie Finnimore, [of Yews Farm] sent a new man to spread it on the meadows under the Ashes Wood. It turned out he had spread it on one of   Harry's small fields down there.  Later Mr Finnemore realised the mistake, and went round to see Harry for recompense, only to be told very politely that he did not want it, and that he could send the man down the following morning to pick it up again, as he did not mind at all!.
Mrs Clark, Harry's wife, could only just get about, and getting a very old lady, like Harry she was quite round, and had her own chair by the fire where she could easily reach the kettle, without having to move.  In fact as a child I was amazed that when Mrs Clark was sitting down she seemed to have no knees.  Her part in the carpentry business, over the years, was to line the coffins that Harry made, for the local people, who were then buried in St Chad's churchyard.
They had six children, Henry [called Harry] the oldest, Jim, Bill the youngest, and three daughters in between. Henry worked for the post office as a postman, and travelled to work in a little old Austin 7 car, the one that had a straight up windscreen and a starting handle permanently out in front.  Henry was the smallest of all the family, and walked with a heavy limp; this was due to him having a short leg and had a boot with a four or five inch sole.

Henry lived with his wife Nell in the cottage next to Cooksland Farm gate, on the other side of the lane was a small garage for his car. Nell worked up at Cooksland House for Major Eld, and her father lived in a small room, or lean-to, on the end of a house on the end of Smithy Lane. He was Bill Ecclestone a very old man when I was a child; he helped around the different farms when needed. His worn-out body seamed to lean forward, almost forming a loop under his bracers, where his chest had been.  He wore corduroy trousers that were tied below the knee with string, and old boots that had worn out laces.  The shirts worn in them days all had loose collars, his shirt at work had no collar or stud to hold the neck hole together, and looked as though it had seen many washes [ and missed a few as well]. He lived an independent life in his small room, but well looked after by his daughter Nell.

Jim was the tallest of the family, and when married lived in the second house up the Coton lane [turn left at the west end of the village second house on the right].  This had a craft, [Crofters have crafts- small field] where he kept hens and reared a few pigs, I think it had two pig sty's.  He worked as carpenter for the estate along with Eric Kilford who was the builder bricklayer; Eric built up Kilfords the Building firm and employed quite a lot of men.  Jim took over from his father, when his father became too old to continue, having learned all the skills needed to become a wheelwright, and all the traditional tools that had built up over the years for that trade.
When the Cumbers council houses were built, in the 1950s, Jim moved into No10, and Bill moved into No9, right opposite the farm and workshop. By this time Jim was full time, having taken over from "The old Chap".  Jim and Bill built a new workshop, with double doors that would lock, a great deal higher and bigger than the one the old chap used.  A complete farm wagon could be built and painted all indoors, and a good deal lighter as well.
As I said Jim was tall, all of six foot, but I expect that working all his earlier days in low cottages, and always ducking his head, he carried his head slightly forward, giving him a slight hump on his shoulders. [Not quite as tall as he should be], they all had caps on in them days, and Jim had his pipe always in his teeth, not always lit.  I think it was St Julian tobacco, that he smoked, and I got as much pleasure, from the smell of the smoke, as he did smoking it.  You get the ambiance of a room when you walk into it, so you did from Jim's workshop, with the smoke from his pipe, or the new cut oak shavings, or the fresh new paint when he's finishing off a job.  His pipe spent that much time, in his teeth, that it wore his teeth away in that one place, to the extent that he could clench his teeth tightly, and the pipe would still hang comfortably.  In normal talk, he would talk with the pipe in place.  But if some cussing was to be done, it would be a prodding motion with the pipe in his hand.  But more often than not it was tongue in cheek cussing.  [Enough about the pipe].
It was always a big joke when Jim and his wife Minnie, went on holiday for a week to the seaside with friends. Minnie would have Jim move all the furniture, to dust and polish, "even behind the bl----  wardrobes had to be cobwebbed" he went on, in case someone had to look in, while they were away. Minnie was a big friend of my mothers, and was very proud of her new house, number 10 The Cumbers.  She was also keen on her flowers garden, and front lawn. Jim had to do the lawn mowing and dug and planted the veg patch. His comment to these jobs was "Why didn't they build the B motorway across my front lawn, or at least tarmac it" he went on, "I could sweep it off and paint it green each spring and save all this work."

  Bill, the youngest of the family, looked after the cows. Up until the 1950s they were hand milked, and then they had their first milking machine.  Then followed a few years later with a bulk milk tank, they stopped picking milk up in churns shortly after that. Bill had 14 cows that was the maximum that the sheds would hold.  They were well looked after, and heavy milkers, and nearly always turned out for the night onto the craft opposite the Holly Bush Pub.  During the day they went down through the ford, to the banky field at the end of Moor lane, or the field at the top of the road bank on the right.  At the ford the cows came from all directions, Village Farm cows came down the bank to the ford the up the Moor lane, Church Farm cows went down the same way as Bills.  On the village green, Green Farm cows would be going out, and also Yews Farm cows went across the green to the Moss Lane.
On a few occasions Bill would have to encourage his cows to move across the path of another herd, or sometimes meet another herd head on.  He always had a long nut stick, and always on his bike when on the road with the cows, and when a problem like this came up, he would get off his bike, and gently tap his cows on through the opposing "team ".  He rarely lost any or picked any extra up, the cows knowing there own fields or sheds.
In his younger days Bill was in the village cricket team, often he was wicket keeper, then when in batting he would hit and run, and really liven the proceedings up, scoring some very quick runs, or getting himself or his colleague run out. The cricket square was in the middle of the present village football field.  It was a football field then as well.  During the week the cricket square was fenced off, and Bills cows would graze round it.  Always a joker he would examine a persons ploughing, to see if it was strait. If it was one of us younger ones, and it was crooked, he would be relentless in telling anyone who would listen, as to how many dead rabbits he had picked up.  Telling them how they had broken their necks, running round the bends in the furrows.  Another wease he had was when someone had spent a day working hard at cleaning or sweeping up, he would say "That looks better, which have you done ?",  then watch for the reaction, then laugh.
Only a small man, he had a job to reach the floor when astride his bike, and with his Woodbine lit, and his nut stick across his handle bars, set off promptly at three fifteen to fetch the cows in. As long as everyone else was at the regular time, the herds would not clash.
They had a little grey Fergy tractor, which was used to cart the muck out to the field in winter, and in the summer, they would mow the meadows for hay.  Then when they wanted timber for carpentry, they would be off down to Henry Venables timber yard on the tractor, sometimes for wide elm boards, still with the bark edges, for trailer floors, or oak for making gates, or timber for making a coffin.
If anyone died in the village, Jim and Bill would be called.  I remember one occasion when Bill was not available, Jim called my brother and I to help him lay out a neighbour who had died that morning.  The first thing we were asked to do was to lift the pantry door off its hinges, and put it on the table. Then we helped lift the deceased onto the door to lay her out, this was a normal procedure as there is not much room in a lot of cottages, and pantry door or scullery door had hinges like a gate, and could easily be lifted off.  When Jim was walking off down the village, with a long notched stick in his hand, we knew he was off to measure a body for the coffin.  People did not have long measuring tapes, as we have now, so a long measuring stick was used. [Carpenters usually had a wooden two foot rule].  If you are a person living in one of the Seighford cottages, you may never realise what your old pantry door had been used for, besides blocking a hole in the wall.
After having got the measurements required from the body, Jim would proceed to make the coffin.  This would take all afternoon, and he would work into the evening to get the job done.  On occasions Eric Bennion would call with his car, to transport the coffin to the deceased's house, discreetly covered with a blanket.  His car had a large carrier rack on the back the right size.  I heard a story about Eric, carting a coffin about on the back of his car, when food rationing was on.  There were strict restrictions enforced by the police, usually by the local bobby on a bike based at Great Bridgeford the next village.   Eric, Jim and Bill had to move a pig that had just been killed at one of their houses, to someone who wanted it, but shouldn't have it because of rationing.  So the obvious way was in a coffin, covered up on the back of Eric's car, and at night.  I believe they passed the police but were never suspected.
Of coarse all the men of working age at that time, were in the "Home Guard" based in Great Bridgeford village hall.  No end of contraband food exchange hands without a ration book in sight, not all of them worked on farms or were farmers.


Owd Fred