Wednesday, 26 October 2011

To Cut and Cart the Kale Blog (Mid 1940's)

This was tale about what happened to my brother and I when I was 9 years old and my brother just over 6years . I was just old enough to work helping the then cowman Philip to load kale for the cows, a job he did every afternoon ready for the following days feeding.


Philip had a tremendous scramble to get us out, I know I was first out and standing by on my own in a daze, and after a short while my younger brother Robert emerged all muddy an shaken.

In winter time father grew Kale to be used up to the turn of the year, after that the cows went onto mangels that were kept safe in a covered hog to protect them from the frost.
The kale was Marrow Stem and drilled early April it would grow up to six foot high, as the name suggests over half the feed was in the centre of the stem, the marrow.

This was cut by hand and loaded in the afternoon by the cowman onto a flat four wheeled dray pulled by one of fathers shire horses, then thrown out onto a grass field near to the sheds for the cows to go out for exercise the following morning and brows their ration of kale.
Cows in them days were all tied in stalls and only went out once a day in winter, so the sheds could be cleaned out and bedded up properly.

Some days we would go with the cowman Philip and ride back on top of the load of kale, he was only a young chap in his twenties, and a bit of a reckless driver (of the horse), like turning the horse and the front turntable of the dray quarter turn and the horse would snatch to get the load moving, on this one occasion tipping the load onto its side.

That would not have been too disastrous only my brother and I were buried under the load. I believe Philip had a tremendous scramble to get us out, I know I was first out and standing by on my own in a daze, and after a short while my brother emerged all muddy an shaken. On the way home we were sworn to secrecy on what had happened not to tell our father ( the old chap as Philip called him) or he might have got cussed in no uncertain terms. The secret was kept and Philip kept his job for another twenty years.


To Cut and Cart the Kale

We used to go with cowman Philip, to cut and put out the kale,
This was done with horse and flat dray, come sun or snow or hail,
Half and hour to chop the stems, and fell them in a row,
Then load them up, stems to the middle, cold its' down to zero.

Old Flower she turns and pulls, hard as she goes to the gate,
Through muddy ruts we had to walk, for a ride we had to wait,
We were not very big and had to be lifted up on top of the load,
Down hill now all the way home, a half a mile on the road.

Into the turf close to the farm, throw the stems off in the field,
Cows to eat the following day, and hope to improve their yield,
Winter feeding of the dairy herd, a never ending job,
Nice to get into warm cowsheds, cows in their bedding flop.

On this one day when we were with him, loading up the kale,
Turned old Flower, tipped the load, such a sorry tale,
Slid the load of Kale off, all over me and my brother,
Philip dug fast to find us, as under the load we'd smother,

We were OK a little dazed, soon came round and recovered,
Squared the horse and wagon, to load up again we staggered,
On the way home Philip asked us, not to tell the old chap,
Father never knew why, we were covered in mud in a mishap.

Countryman

On the way up to the kale field with Philip he stopped ( he may have stopped before when he was on his own ) under an overhanging nut bush, he pulled old Flower the shire well over onto the grass verge and well up under the hedge and stopped well under the thick of a good crop of hazel nuts.

He had the long cutting hook that he cut the kale with, and pulled down those nuts that would otherwise be out of reach, we were already standing on the wagon. As kids this was exiting as we filled our pockets and Philip cracked some for us to eat. Then a loud voice came from the big house across the grassy orchard, "oooyyyy what are you up to", they had seen the bushes swaying about and came out to investigate.

We all went flat on the wagon and flapped the reigns on old Flowers back and we were off. They knew who it was and what we were up to, and as no damage had been done nothing was ever said. But they never realised how many nuts we had got.


I Remember Philip Boulton.

At the Beeches we had a cowman, his name was Philip Boulton,
He liked his beer at weekend , was at the pub quite often,
Lived in a cottage by the shop, front door opened from the pavement,
It had low doors and ceilings, and dormer window casements.

Only a young chap just got married, and never learned to drive,
Went everywhere on his bike, except the pub till he'd revive,
The bike it had low handle bars, and a dynamo driven headlight,
A sad a crumpled saddle bag, nothing in it to excite.

He always wore a bib and brace overall, and a singlet vest,
Even in the winter time, when working bared his chest,
Wellingtons or wellies, with turned down tops so short,
Even in the summer time, no working boots to sport.

A round faced man, hair combed flat back,
Receding over each temple, and he never wore a hat,
What few teeth he had, dentist ventualy pulled the lot,
And a full set of dentures fitted, no more for him the rot.

He looked after all the cows, fed and milked them all,
In the winter had some help cleaning out the stalls,
Often us lads would carry milk, to the dairy there to cool,
Filling up the churns for transport, before and after school.

He'd harness up the horse, on afternoons in winter,
Cut and load kale onto the wagon, he was quite a sprinter,
Throw it out around the field, next day for the cows,
They're turned out for exercise, and the kale to browse.

For many years he stayed with us, until he saw more money,
A factory job and no weekend, he left in such a hurry,
His cottage was never used again, pulled down to pile of rubble,
Bungalow built on the site, back off the pavement out of trouble

Countryman



Being a drinking man he (Philip) frequented the Holly Bush pub two or three evenings a week only just up the road. When, as kids we occasionally called at his cottage, we would be offered a cup of tea, but not cups as we were used to, these were pint sized, he had nothing smaller.

There was a little cast iron stove with the huge kettle boiling hanging from a hook on the chimney crane, his toasting fork that he or his wife would poke or re-arrange the logs on the fire, and a square table in the middle of the small room covered with a colourful piece of worn oilcloth. Each side of the fire was what passed for  two arm chairs, any one else had to sit on the old wooden kitchen chairs. In front of the fire for the kids to sit on was the peg rug made out of strips of cloth from worm out clothing.

I think the house had been built before the roadside pavement had been established because from his front door you stepped down a step into the house, the door opened directly onto the pavement. The doors could not have been much more than five foot six and inside the beams in the living room come kitchen no more the six foot.

I suppose in them day's people were not so tall, or maybe it was the estate thought they would save bricks by only building a cottage with very low rooms. As I remember it , it was the only cottage that had round edge (feather edged) tiles on the roof, quite fancy for a farm cottage, and what's the betting that the tiles had come off another larger house that had perhaps been demolished. Who knows?


Remember, people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold - but so does a hard boiled egg.
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