Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Hay Sweep (3)

A Hay Sweep Fitted to the Standard Fordson

Fire was always a major hazard near the railway lines, a cinder blown out of the chimney with the smoke of the old steam engines, would land in a bit of dry grass and catch fire; this would burn with a bit of following wind up the embankment quite often burning the fence on the way.

Father had a field of wheat ready for the binder, but before he got to it the wind had blown fire through the fence into twelve acre standing crop, and nothing anyone could do to stop it once it got hold. On another occasion it was a field of hay that he and the men had been working in all day, and were aiming to collect it after evening milking, this was done with a hay sweep fitted on the front of fathers Standard Fordson, the crop being pushed up to a stack in the middle of the field. But when we went to the field it was just black smouldering stubble, it had all burnt except in a couple of corners, the half stack of hay left over from the previous year had gone as well.

The lengths men who worked along the railway line, try to keep the embankments cut, and burnt off in a controlled way, but sometimes a cinder would do it for them when no one was about.

It was these same lengths men who would hop over the railway fence and load the farm wagons with shoffs of corn, father would make sure he took down plenty of pitch forks as there was five or six in the gang. The cart was loaded in about five minuets flat, and off back to the farm with his load drawn behind his Standard Fordson, and back with the next one in half an hour.

No money seemed to change hands, but eggs, taters, and other produce on ration was exchanged for work done, and the main meeting for these exchanges was the home guard meeting at the Village hall.

The railway "lengths men" were a gang of about six men who maintained the railway tracks and fences on their length between half way to Stafford and half way to Norton Bridge based at Great Bridgeford. Father got to know them well as they were also in the home guard.

When father was cutting large field of corn they would hop over the fence for half an hour and help stook the corn, with a gang like that it soon got done. It was the same again when it came to loading the shoffs of corn from the stooks. Father always took down plenty of pitch forks in anticipation, and they knew when to be working close by. No money changed hands but he gave them plenty of taters and eggs and in the case of the engine driver he got half a pig.

The Home Guard Contraband

The railway line it ran through, some of father's land,
He got to know the railway men, quite a happy band,
They were in the home guard and all the farm men too,
They often jumped over the fence, to load a wagon or two.

For this he gave them taters, or anything they hadn't got,
Often at the home guard meetings, the sergeant got forgot,
For this is where it all changed hands, just behind his back,
If they ever got found out, they'd be on the rack.

An engine driver was among them, he'd got what we want,
He slowed his train by the field, tender full of coal he flaunt,
Every morning at nine thirty, rolled off big lumps of coal,
Father loaded it on his cart, this man he did extol.

A coal house full of best steam coal, mother to do the cookin,
Big bright fire that roared round flue, she was so pleased herein,
Only cost a half a pig, its contraband you see,
Delivered by dad and Eric in a coffin, the law could not foresee.


Talking about war time rationing, I still have my own old ration book, and it still has a fair amount of coupons still in it. On looking it still has nearly all the sweet coupons, most of the tea coupons are used and the cheese and fats and sugar coupons.

There no meat coupons left, but mother took all the books with her and tended to use all the coupons out of one book before she picked up the next, but then you should not use coupons in advance of the date.

So she must have saved up and got a "stock" of coupons in the various books. This book is for the year May 1953 through to May 1954 but then some time early in that period rationing must have been withdrawn and rationing ended.

There is twenty six pages in the book and on the front has a F.O. CODE No. M - J - 1 and a serial no. AT 565118 Ministry of Food the my name and address.

We had our own eggs and milk, and early on in the war mother would make cheese and butter, and very occasionally she would make some bread.

Refer you to Blog 22.08.08 ( press the Tag "Weather")The Weather Forecast by Owd Fred's Mother at the bottom is "I remember Mothers Pantry"

Now Eric had a Big Car

I remember during the war, and after for a while,
Everyone had ration books, cues could stretched a mile,
In the village it was not too bad, as contraband it moved,
Under the policeman's nose, the law they disapproved.

Now Eric had a big car, with a carrier on the back,
And when someone died, the coffin he'd take on rack,
Covered in a black cloth, everyone knew what it was,
From the wheelwrights' shop, no attention draws.

The coffin it was just made, no lining did it have,
Father had just killed a pig, in exchange for coal he halved,
Laid the half pig in the coffin, for transport to his mate,
Then lined the coffin and delivered, just a little late.


The village wheelwright made the coffins and dug the graves and laid people out, read the two wheelwright blogs

Education is not the filling of the pail, but the lighting of the fire.