Sunday, 16 November 2014

To refurbish an old Ransomes plough

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winter job painting it up

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

The finished plough

The matching outfit won best turnout a couple of times

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

My Old Ration Book from WW2

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

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

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

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

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

Shop keepers rubber stamp

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

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

You can read that story in full here

And the dentist blog here

Saturday, 1 November 2014

A very small cog in this world of ours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   Educations What You Want

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

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

Owd Fred

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

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

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

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

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

Author Unknown 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Clocks and time pieces collected over the years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 20 October 2014

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

St Swithin's day 15th July

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

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

This is the old saying--

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

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

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

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

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

Owd Fred

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

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

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

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

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

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

Owd Fred

Monday, 14 July 2014

The old Cow Chains

The old Cow Chains

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Wellies large and large wellies small

Now , what am I looking for.

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

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

Owd Fred

Ode to a Welly

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

Owd Fred

Wellies large and large wellies small

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

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

Owd Fred

Chips or should I say Fish and Chips (Fries)

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

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

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

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Father Cutting our Hair

I Remember father Cutting our Hair

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

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

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

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

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

Father Cutting our Hair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Owd Fred

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Ov worked all me life trying to earn an onnest crust

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Everything is carried about and often back again

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

British food grown and packed

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

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

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

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

Owd Fred

It was like being stuck in Alcatraz

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

 It was like being stuck in Alcatraz

Dear Jayne,

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