Friday, 16 December 2011

One Mysterious Little Meadow

Years ago, perhaps thirty years ago, when I took over another block of fields on the estate, there was one mysterious little meadow of about two acres. The land and fields surrounding it are light land overlying gravel and deeper down pure sand, but it lay in a hollow, dead flat and with a ditch all down the South side. It had always been a permanent pasture with a tendency to grow rushes and in winter very wet and it poached.

The ditch running its length was over grown and very rarely ever been cleaned out (perhaps because in my generation and mechanisation era we were reluctant to use spades) so had a tendency to over flow in winter, this is why it was so wet. The ditch had a wide catchment area which included carrying storm water from the road drains of a quarter of a mile, so when it rained hard it was a fast flowing ditch.

The council and the estate got together to remedy this ditch, as it was causing the road to flood, so they drew up a scheme to pipe it all the way through four of my fields to where it met the wet peaty ditches that were maintained by the river board.
This little meadow was transformed into quite a dry meadow and as it had been mown every summer for centuries, or so it seemed, it had very little fencing so it was decided to fill in the old ditch and the post and wire fence removed, and it was merged with the next field, an arable field.

We started ploughing across the main field and at the end of every run we ploughed down into this little old meadow. It stalled the tractor and had to go down about two gears, the tractor reared as the plough got dug into a seam of heavy clay. There was about four inches of black silt on top, for at some point in time it must have been a man made shallow pool, (perhaps a flight pool for ducks as the estate had keepers and a shoot) all the clay must have been carted there by horse and cart and levelled and spread in a foot deep layer.

All round the estate on every farm a proportion of the land was heavy land on top of red marl and in all those field are marl pits, this I was told was dug up and spread out on top of arable and pasture land in spade full's or in clay lumps to chillate (if that's the right word)
In other words it was left for the frost to break it down into a crumbly hump that could be chain harrowed and spread evenly all over the field the following spring.
In the case of this little meadow it was a thick twelve inch layer of marl that was puddle down when there was plenty of water flowing in winter and allowed to form a pool.
It took about five years before the clay got properly mixed with subsoil and the silt, and that area did not have fertilizer for quite a number of years other wise the corn would go flat

In years gone by a man would no doubt have spent half the winter digging and maintaining that ditch by hand, but as the farms became mechanised so fewer men were about farms.
Then in the late 1950's or there abouts, J C Bamford invented a digger on the back of a tractor, ( twenty miles from here) and the JCB has evolved to the enormous business that it is. Now all my ditches are maintained as necessary, without too much cost and effort by a friend of mine with his JCB

Introducing Mr Roy Halden, JCB or is it CBE

Roy he drives a JCB, it is his full time job,
Works about locally, to earn an onest bob,
On the spot the time he says, reliable as he can be,
Round the farms and building sites, always you can see.

Digging out or trenching, or foundations good and straight,
Never leaves a mess behind, no need for him a mate,
Grading out hardcore, to level a brand new drive,
Perfection's what he aims for, not the nine to five.

Always takes three buckets, for all the jobs he does,
He swaps them automatically, without even a pause,
Tease them round to be in line, click they're well fixed on,
Carries them every where he goes, so well known this mon.

His front bucket does many jobs; it has a ‘jaw' that opens,
It can grab and grip things, dozer blade beneath as options,
A pair of fork lift tines fold over, moving pallets about,
For all these various jobs he does, just give him a shout.

His machine's maintained and clean, when he's off to work,
But some jobs they're down right dirty, these he doesn't shirk,
Tackle almost any job, that he's asked to do,
Brings his bag of snappin, and a flask that holds his brew.

Best known digger man in these parts, as he goes shooting by,
A wave and a big broad smile from him, in his cab so high,
Off to his next appointment, just a regular of his,
So often he is recommended, with his JCB he's a whiz.


Its better for civilization to be going down the drain than to be coming up itHenry Allen

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