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    http://yewsfarm.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/to-refurbish-old-ransomes-plough.html    (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     http://goo.gl/GrbO8N

And the dentist blog here   http://goo.gl/PSt9D4



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 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Clocks and time pieces collected over the years



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

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

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

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





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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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


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

Monday, 20 October 2014

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



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

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





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

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

St Swithin's day 15th July

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


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

This is the old saying--

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

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

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

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

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

Owd Fred



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


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

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

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

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

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

Owd Fred



Monday, 14 July 2014

The old Cow Chains

The old Cow Chains

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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









Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Wellies large and large wellies small


Now , what am I looking for.

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

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

Owd Fred



Ode to a Welly

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

Owd Fred


Wellies large and large wellies small

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

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

Owd Fred




Chips or should I say Fish and Chips (Fries)

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





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




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