Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The Longest Swath

The longest swath or the longest furrow is always the one round the outside of the field.
I seem to walk and work about the farm these days in a reflective daze, half looking back, and half looking forward, with every thing starting to overtake my way of working.

I look at the trees and hedges some of which I planted over my life on the farm, and how we used to mow and plough right up to the edge of every field. After all the longest swath or the longest furrow is always the one round the outside of the field. We cut the hedge banks by hand and trimmed the lower branches of young hedge row trees and trimmed the hedges with a brushing hook.

Looking now we don't have the same labour force, but is it so hard to cut that last back swath of hay/silage right up to the ditch or plough that last furrow and plough out the corners properly. They have the excuse now that it's for the wildlife, but back then we had far more wildlife than we have now, or so it seemed.

I see the balance of the countryside gradually changing over the years, and reflect on what it looked like sixty years ago, but then memories can be selective.
When growing up everything around you is the "norm", you take it all for granted that that is how thing have always been, when in reality, your parents and grand parents went through or have gone through modernisation and change over their years. The situation we have today in farming and the world of farming in general is just the "norm" for all those starting up a farming operation now. It's all I suppose what they call progress.

I don't think my father had an overdraft in his life, what he bought he saved up for, worried for days if his cash flow ( the word cash flow is too modern, never heard of it until I went to farm college) was running low.

Friday mornings were the crunch day when mother came home from shopping after calling at the bank for the wages for the men, (about twelve pound a man). It was like a big bank roll stuffed deep in her handbag, and quickly transferred when she got home into father's desk and locked up for the night, wages being paid out on a Saturday mornings.

Money had been very tight for my parents in their early days in farming, and they knew how to run a tight ship, nothing was ever spent if it did not need to be spent.

There had always got to be a guaranteed return, and this habit never left them in all the years of their life, whether it be the first fertilizers ever purchased onto the farm (nitro-chalk, basic slag, Humber fish muck) or whether it be knitting wool for knitting all our socks gloves and jumpers, which eventually became working garments and were darned and repaired many times before they were too holey to repair.

Thrift was the by word then, and we seem to have lost that word from the modern day vocabulary, it's become a throw away society now, nothing is repaired, if it don't work chuck it, and get a new one.
Maybe that's why I still have a couple of old tractors in the shed, still in good working order, but not anywhere near as comfortable as the modern ones, still got an old scythe hanging up and a brushing hook, you never know when you might need them (you silly old Bugger), I probably haven't got the strength now to work them now anyway.

Mother Always Worked So Hard (1945)
 
Mother always worked so hard, to rear her brood of kids,
As we grew bigger and in our teens, we must have cost her quids,
Four of us lads and our dad, Uncle Jack as well,
Looked after all of us, knitting socks and jumpers she excelled.
 
Big appetites we had, and thrifty she had to be,
Most things grown about the farm, including all the poultry.
Eggs and chicken, more often old hen, regular we had,
Potatoes beans and cabbage carrots, all grown by our dad,
 
Rabbit pie most every week, killed a pig and cured,
Only thing she did buy, big lump of beef well matured.
Bottled all the fruit she could, and salted down the beans,
Got the meals and baked the cakes, did washing in between,
 
Baker came three times a week, six loaves every call,
Corn flakes she also brought, lot of boxes I recall,
Through the war and rationing, never seemed go short,
Well fed, we all worked hard, and not much time cavort.
 
Owd Fred


Nature is the most thrifty thing in the world; she never wastes anything; she undergoes change, but there is no annihilation, the essence remains - matter is eternal.Horace Binney

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

About time to retire.


With mid seventies looming up, and near ten years beyond where most folk have retired we have now found a house to retire to next door but two from the farm, (if you count the local pub as a house,) which over looks some of the fields we now farm.

It will be a tremendous down sizing of all house hold items, and can envisage a huge bonfire in the back garden of large old fashioned furniture that has been so lovingly cared for all the years we have lived here.

There are items in the cupboards and on the shelves that have been handed down from grand mothers and grandfathers on both side of the family, who when they themselves retired were only too pleased to find somewhere to unload their surplus memorabilia for safe keeping for the next younger generation. (a policy we would like to repeat for our younger generation, but !!!).

 In the wardrobes there are cloths that are well out dated in some cases by forty years, best suits that no longer fit, and only worn a weddings and funerals, out grown and out dated. With a large double wardrobe for all four main bedrooms and the accompanying smaller wardrobe in three of them as well, there has been no need to chuck perfectly good and “as new” clothing away.

 It has always been the policy in our house to ware clothing out until it is not worth mending or washing any more, but to ware an old NEW suit to go to market in, or to go about the farm in just to ware it out, would be sacrilege. In the back of your mind is what it cost to buy, and it would make you feel guilty, and it would look to the neighbours as if you were a spendthrift, working in a suit, so it’s kept for BEST, until one day you find out its too small.

 Best shoes are the same, some still have long pointed toes, not the extreme ones you used to see in the 50’s and 60’s, but most of them still fit, but hardly any of them have been properly “run in”. With our working boots, they have gradually got wider with ware, and just as they are at there most comfortable, they, after continual daily use, (for years if I had my way) they finally ware out.

 The bathroom upstairs here in the farmhouse, would, if you had a seating plan seat upwards of fifteen people. The bathroom in the new (1950's) house will only barely seat one and that in the conventional traditional way. I will, I have no doubt, get claustrophobia if that door were to be shut.

 This bathroom we are expected to have to use, standing (or seating) room only for one, you can turn every tap on and off, open and shut the door and the window almost all at the same time, pull the pull switch to turn the light on and off, all this without moving ya feet. All I can say is it wonna cost much to put new lino down, and if ya turn round a bit too quick with the door shut you will find ya cloths hanging on the peg on the back of the door, with you still in them. It will certainly be a steep learning curve for us.

 No more having to open six or eight sets of curtains every morning, and from the bed to the bathroom and then down to the kettle in the kitchen is quite literally a sixty yards (or paces, I did count them) trek before ya get ya first cup of tea.

Then in this old farm house, the first pace you take outside the back door and you have arrived at work.
 
A back door that has been opened and shut as many as hundred times every day, over the last hundred and fifty years.

This pair of hinges is never oiled, we find that this way we have an early warning of anyone comming through that door by a loud squeek of the hinge, we can hear it right through to the sitting room.
 
 
Its old hook and eye hinges have worn down almost half way through the leg of the hook, and corresponding ware in the bottom of the eye as well.

Only once, in my time here, have I had to lift it off to cut a bit off the bottom of the door to allow for the hinge ware, a process that would imagine only take place once in every generation over all those years.

What has been cut off the bottom of the door is reflected in the gap now appearing at the top, a fly or a wasp can get through, and the draft, but not quite big enough for the swallows and sparrows to come in to nest.

 
What a difference there will be to close a “plastic” door, with its delicate catch and locking system, after being used to closing an old oak door,  and throwing a big blacksmith made twelve inch bolt every night. A bolt that is bright in its shank with once daily use, a door that is rarely if ever bolted during the day,  I remember as a kid the back door at home never ever locked all the years I grew up, even when we all went out together  at the same time.
 I will be looking out through double glazed windows, sound proof, mist proof, rot proof. Walls that have cavity insulation, and a loft, what bit there is compared to the farm house, that are insulated as well.
Afterbeing used to waking on a winters morning to a hard frost, with frost on the inside of the widows, this will be a sauna, but I can well do without the damp these days, it gets into ya bones, so on that count alone it will be nice to move to a smaller and warmer house, even if we’ve been a bit late getting to it. 
 

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The War time Blackout


The farm I was brought up on during the war (WorldWwar II) is situated about five hundred yards from the end and on the north side of the main runway of a war time airfield, and across to our west side was the perimeter track where the aircraft taxied round to take off.
Close by was the petrol dump, where the fuel was delivered by road tankers and collect by refueling vehicles and taken round parked planes. If ever an enemy bomb had made a direct hit, it certainly would have rocked our foundations.

Just along from that was a search light, parked on a large circle of concrete some thirty yards outside the perimeter track. There were a number of woods around the outside of the airfield, and this was where the bomb dumps were built with concrete tracks leading all the way round and back to the perimeter track.
The safest way for an enemy bomber to get this far inland was at night, and if they could not find their allotted target, they would circle round looking for lights, or some evidence of a target to unload their bombs.



As you see this is a picture of a picture, the village church of St. Chads is above the cluster bottom right. Right of centre at the bottom is the village school. Left of centre near the bottom is my farm, the only farm left out of five farms. Top left at the end of the road is where we were brought up as kids, the home farm. Then two fields to the left out of the top left of the picture is the old airfield, so we were all fairly vulnerable to attack.

So you can see it was important not to present them with a target in the first place, that was why around the farm yard, every cowshed window had to have blinds made for the "blackout" . A wooden frame was made to fit each window and black tarred paper was tacked onto it. All the cowshed doors were kept closed during dark nights while milking was in progress. Only the down stairs windows of the house had these blinds as when you went to bed it was often with a candle and that was only to see your way to bed.

Electricity had not long come to the village, and the one place that had a generator for some years before mains electric was our farm. It had been installed by the previous tenant and was a 24 volt system with a pair of wire running to the switches then back up to the light bulb. The insulators consisted of a pair of porcelain blocks with a hole in the centre for the wood screw and each side of that was grove to take the wire. The two were clamped together holding the wires just off the surface they were fastened to.

When the mains 240 volts came, a transformer was installed by the electricity meter. That meant that for years, while the old wiring was reasonably serviceable, father had to go to a warehouse quite a few miles away (up the Potteries) for replacement 24 volt bulbs.

No such thing as an earth wire with that system, the radio had a two pin plug as did the table lamp and standard lamps, so for a while there was a mixture of new mains and the old wire running round the house, as gradually mother had an electric cooker and an electric iron on a three pin socket.
The mains were taken across the yard to an electric motor that was installed to drive all the barn machinery including the milk vacuum pump, and the existing loft shaft system. The old barn engine with two big flywheels was disposed of, only the block of concrete that it once stood on, with four bolts sticking up, gave evidence as to where it once had pride of place.
The electric motor had a pulley each side of it and just occasionally it drove the corn plate mill and the milking vacuum pump at the same time. When the mill finished it was a matter of running the long leather belt off the motor pulley with a bit of wood.
The vacuum pump belt reached from one side of the barn to the other across a doorway into the next shed, and during milking times you had to stride over the flapping belt. The mill belt was longer, and the one onto the loft shafting longer still, where it had belts to a chaff cutter, a root pulper, a cake crusher, and at one time a winnower.


Black Molasses In The Barn
 
I remember at the Beeches, way back in the barn,
A great big forty gallon drum, on a block away from harm,
It contained black molasses; a good half of it was used,
With hot water mixed, poured on oats when they were bruised.
 
Take the bung out and wait a bit, for it to slowly flow,
We all liked to have a taste; dad said it'd help us grow,
A finger full and then another, it was lov-ely and sweet,
Left your hands all sticky, you couldn't be discrete.
 
We had plenty over the time, but still a lot unused,
Mother said it would move us, but father he was amused,
He said a good clean out, every now and then,
Would tone us up, and help us all, to grow to big strong men.
 
Countryman


Faith is like electricity. You can't see it, but you can see the light.Author unknown

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Black Gold

Black Gold (originaly written August 2010)
 
At great expense they drill for oil, black gold to be refined
Wells are sunk beneath the earth, through rock and soil grind,
Pumped and piped on its way, into many products turned,
Ammonium nitrate, tar and pitch, petrol diesel, n' heating oil burned.
 
It's running out and hard to find, now digging neath the waves,
Risks are getting higher, as for greater profit craves,
Barrel price keeps going up, and at the pumps the same,
There's plenty more where that comes from, or that is what they claim
 
Biofuels the thing right now, grown on our land and earth,
Each season brings a new crop, to feed it now not worth,
Another market for our wheat, no surplus stores we need,
Persuade the millers pay the price, and end the waste and greed.
 
Energy from wind power, great turbines in the sky,
Out upon the hill tops, no wind no power supply,
Tide and wave power harness now, reliable as can be,
Clean and safe, its ebb and flow, the energy is free.

Owd Fred

This was written a few weeks ago before the wheat prices "took off", I have no doubt that very little wheat will find its way to the power stations this year. (Automn 2010) In case you are looking at this in years to come, its the year when Russia had wild fires and very dry season, and burned large areas of standing wheat. Our own season was quite dry and reduced the straw length, which saw straw prices on the field in the swath go through the roof with £60 and £70 per acre not uncommon with odd fields higher a lot than that
The oil well in the Gulf of Mexico that spilt oil into the Gulf has now been plugged, and most of the slick has dispersed, even that disaster has paled into the background, and soon be forgotten.

Oil prices have fallen lately. We include this news for the benefit of gas stations, which otherwise wouldn't learn of it for six months.
Bill Tammeus
, in Toronto's National Newspaper, 1991

Monday, 13 August 2012

Fields Lanes and Country Roads all have Names

Our Village is a small part of England, as say a motor car is made up of component parts. The largest being the body ,the chassis, the engine , right down to the smallest bolt washer and cotter pin. So Great Britain is made up of England, Scotland and Wales, these are again divided into counties, cities, towns, villages and hamlets and this continues down into individual house names. Where you have Motorways, trunk roads, main roads, secondary roads, by roads, country roads, and village roads.

As in all areas of the country side - it continues into farm roads and lanes. Round our village, starting with the Back lane, you go then into the Moor Lane, which runs north to the railway line and the Flash Bridge.( Railway bridge) Off this lane runs the Love Lane to the north of the village, coming back onto the Bridgeford road below Cooksland House. On the east side, we have got the Moss Lane, this runs to the Ashes Wood. Then to the south east the Oldfords Lane, that runs through to Coton-Clanford. To the south side, we have Smithy Lane, a cow track for the Village Farm cows to go to pasture, and a public footpath. Finally on the west side Clanford Lane (This last one is a council road), leading as it says to Coton-Clanford.

Off all these lanes are fields, the majority of which are named. These would be well known among the people of the village, as nearly all would work on the farms. But nowadays there are very few farm workers, and the vast majority commute to work elsewhere.
Some have logic as to how they were named; in fact all must have at some point. Take the Red Reins for instance, this is a field when ploughed, it turns up in heavy red clay, and when all the ploughing had to be done in "Cop and Rein". (You set a cop with the plough and plough both sides of it. When it meets the previous cop further across the field this is called a Rein where you finish off the ploughing in between). Then you have a field called Hobble End, which used to have a double cottage in it with no services what ever. There only remains a pipe in the hedge which reveals the proximity of the well. There are also the remains of the garden wicket in the hedgerow, this was Hobble End Cottages.

Other names need more and deeper investigation, such as Noon's Birch, Hazel Graze, Big Ashpit, Middle Ashpit, Little Ashpit, the Fosters, and the Pingles, Mill Bank, Hanging Bank (this one makes you think!).
 The Cumbers the row of houses were named after the grass fields behind them. There is also Moss Common, Passage Field and, Glebe Field. There are a lot of small fields about that are Glebe land and were part of the farm attached to the Church, the old vicarage had a cowshed.
We have the Stafford Meadow, the Shed Meadow, and an archaeological dig or even ploughing the old turf up might reveal the remains of a building on this field.
The Public field is on the bank behind the Holly Bush pub, The pub had fields attached to it and the small range of buildings on the east side of the pub car park were the cowsheds to it, which included a coach house for the Trap, a stable, a loose box for young stock or pigs and, a loft with a pitching hole where the hay was pitched in.

 The cowshed is still in the same format as it was a hundred years ago with the old wooden stalls the lot. You step back in a time warp when you go in there.

This has only scratched the surface of the history of the village, and much more can be found out depending on where you look at it from. Everyone has a different stand point. This pattern is repeated all over the country, very little is known by the general public that almost all fields up and down the country have names, some more interesting than others, as with house names it makes life more interesting than just a number.
 

A patchwork quilt of fields around our village, the average size is about six acres with the larger ones around 12 acres. The actual village is just out of the picture top left

Field Names of Seighford

Out in Britons countryside, looks like a patchwork quilt,
Of roads and lanes and field tracks, evolved and some were built,
They lead from towns and villages, and farms, map nailed on beam,
Each field a hedge and ditch and gate, watered by pond or stream.

The fields both large and small have names, you wouldn’t dream exist,
Some relate to owner past, and others the type of land persists,
Red Rheine’s is one of these mean fields, when ploughed reveals red clay,
Unless the frost into it gets, no seed bed though you work all day.

Best known one I’ve no doubt, behind Yews farm is Cumbers,
Ten houses built along the village, take that name and numbers,
Down by the ford is Mill Bank, four acre few trees by the brook,
The Hazel Graze another great name, nut bushes to make a crook.

Fosters by the railway line, named after a soul long gone,
And Pingles also down the Moor Lane, that defiantly is a mystery one,
Noons Birch is the most beautiful name, one that congers’ you mind,
Public Field it was part of the land , run to the pub up back and behind.

Hoble End is another nice name, where two cottages stood in the fields,
No track did they only footpath, lonely place only a well and concealed,
Moss Common a field where the ditch, springs in the middle to pick up,
It is important that they are there, to water the ewes and the tup.

Ash Pits are three fields in a row, the Big the Middle and Little,
Ash trees are the obvious reason, and only one pit in the lot,
Hanging Bank is most sinister name, it’s a cold north facing bank,
More research into this is what’s needed, but all we’ve drawn is a blank

Lanes to the fields also have names, Moor Lane runs way from the ford,
Connecting with that is Love Lane, a grassy rut track half way Bridgeford,
The Oldfords Lane goes up to the farm, to Coton not a short cut by car,
And Smithy Lane runs way through houses, the shortest of all by far.

Moss Lane is one that runs eastwards, cow lane that it is can be seen,
Grass up the middle and is long, see cattle grazing fields so keen,
It has path that runs up it, and gates shut on each end,
The path is quite long; it comes out near Doxey on bend.
________

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home
.
John Howard Payne (1791 - 1852)

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Mother made her Pastry (1940's)

I would like to bet there are not many women these days that make pastry every week like our mother did, and in the volume now only seen in a super market bakery, (I am exaggerating a bit).

But with seven of us (our father and his brother uncle Jack, and four of us lads)  in the farm house to cater for at that time, and just when we were growing up, she showed us how to cook and bake cakes, and of coarse make pastry.


Mother made her Pastry

Mother made her pastry, mixed in a great mixing big bowl,
Then thumped it on the table, with the rolling pin she'd roll,
Used all sorts to cut the rings, no proper cutter got,
A glass or cup or old pan lid, something just right size she'd spot.

Jam tarts large with fancy edge, jam tarts small and neat,
Mince pies filled with lid on top, all look too good to eat,
Spare pastry given to us kids, to roll and make our own,
Rolling out and cutting pastry, just like we'd been shown.

It went grey in our hands, our hand got cleaner too,
Currant flap-over sealed down, whipped egg brushed on for glue,
Then we used the pastry tins, greased the inside more,
So they'd pop out without sticking, as mother did before.

Should go on the cooling rack, but ours were not there long,
Eaten soon as cool enough, so as not to burn our tongue,
No crumbs left of what we made, and mothers dare not touch,
Cooled and stored in an air tight tin, to last a week's too much.

Countryman (Owd Fred)


A cold need the cook as much as the doctor.Scottish Proverb

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Irreversible Changes in one Small Village

Undertaker in the village, was at the wheelwrights shop,
Lays out and measures them, made a coffin non-stop,


As in all small villages it changes over the years, in some way for the better, in others for the worse. The village pumps went some fifty years ago, these were a meeting point for gossip, and news was soon spread from end of the village.

The school on the other hand has expanded, the frontage is as it was in years gone by, but round the back a complete new complex of class rooms has been developed.

The blacksmiths shop closed with decline in the Shire horse population and tractors took over the heavy work about the farms.

The village wheelwright's work shop closed when the wheelwright retired, which coincided with the metal hydraulic tipping trailers and the popularity of the light metal gates and wheel barrows. The coffin making gradually ceased when the in town undertakers took over with the motor hearse. In the early days the hearse was a four wheel trolley housed behind the church, and the wheelwright took the coffin on the hearse on foot to the house or cottage. For the later years I remember he worked with one of the town undertakers, he made the coffin and dug the grave, they did the transport. Another craftsman and his trade has disappeared from the village.

The village pub has survived up until recently when it closed for some months at the end of 2009. It has been hit by the recession along with a lot of other country pubs, it  opened again for food , and seems to be bumping along, only just surviving. It is hoped that it will pull through as it will take the heart out of the village if it closes for good. (Footnote; It (The Pub) has now in 2012 been bought by the villagers, and hopeing to open as a Free House (not tied to a brewary) at least its not being demolished

The post office shop closed some years ago when the GPO decide to do away with many rural post offices, that again is or was right in the middle of the village, the shop itself went into decline with the rise of super markets and the improvement of transport, nearly every household has at least one car.

The postman used to come on his bike four miles from the sorting office to deliver mail and parcels, that changed over to a van a long time ago, in fact some forty years its been delivered by van.

The farms have reduced, ours is the only one left in the centre of the village, four other "in the village" farms have been amalgamated with the surrounding farms. Where at one time all the cottages had farm workers in them as they were all tied cottages to the different farms. Now nearly all the cottages have been sold off or let to folk who work outside of the village.

The church itself has not changed but the vicars job is now spread over three other village churches, spreading his message to a greater number of people over a wider area.


A Country Village (1950's)

The Village has its own clock, for to tell the time,
On the tower of St Chads, every half hour it does chime,
This its done for many years, and to wind it up you climb,
Three big weights on cables, crank it many times.

In the tower set in oak frame, sit its ringing bells,
Ropes and wheels for swinging, its congregation tells,
Come to church for service, to have your sins expelled,
All the parish can hear them, peal of Village bells.

The vicar has his job to visit, all parish elderly and the sick,
Take all the Sunday services, with sermon long and epic,
Christmas Easter Harvest, Christenings funerals and weddings quick,
He is kept so busy looking after, all village elderly and sick.

Out and down the church path , is the village green,
Under the lynch gates, standing all serene,
Looks a little weathered, for all the years its been,
Guarding the church yard, on the village green.

Also on Village green, was the village pump,
Standing in the corner, on a grassy hump,
To prime it work the handle, almost had to jump,
Water all the cottages, from this well and pump.

Across the road to educate, is the village school,
Teacher at the blackboard, sitting on a stool,
There to help the children not to be a fool,
Basic reading writing, maths in the village school.

Further down the village, was the blacksmiths shop,
Making all the horse shoes, on the anvil hot,
Hammer always ringing, shaping metal without stop,
Give the horses new shoes, to make them clip and clop.

Undertaker in the village, was at the wheelwrights shop,
Lays out and measures them, maked a coffin non-stop,
Family lines the coffin, his brother dug the grave,
All the week they made farm carts, spokes whittle to a stave.

Next again is Holly Bush, our local village pub,
As well as drink you can get if hungry, a little bit of grub,
For a gathering of the locals, this was the hub,
News and gossip turned around in the village pub.

Down at the post office, in the village shop,
Sells all essentials, also chocolate sweets and pop,
Letters parcels postal orders, have a hefty whop,
Rubber stamp saying S----ford, in the village shop.

The postman came on his bike to visit, six days of every week,
Delivering post and parcels, each morning his bike it creaked,
Collecting all the gossip while, having cup of tea he'd speak,
All about what he'd learned, on his round six days every week.

On all the farms they had cows, and they produce the milk,
Beef and chickens hens and geese, sheep with fleece smooth as silk.
They had mixture of everything, corn for cows and pigs,
Hay and roots, rolled oats and peas, feed the cows produce the milk,

In all the cottages were the families, men who work the land,
Herdsmen, n' wagoner's, n' those to anything can turn their hand,
Early start in all weathers, generally a happy band,
They work late at harvest time, all these men who work the land.

Countryman

A sense of curiosity is nature's original school of education.
Dr. Smiley Blanton.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

It could have killed my whole herd of cows




It happened one fine summer afternoon


Each cow that went through the gate stumbled onto their knees, scramble back onto their feet and panicked, and fled down to the far end of the yard.

It happened one fine summer afternoon, when I went to bring the cows in for milking, they all get strung out when the cows decide, as usual, to all walk single file over the foot bridge over the ford in the back lane. To make the job slower, some of them stop to rub an itch on their nose on the bridge side rails,

,

very few liked to walk through the ford itself because of the round cobbles stones in the bottom.
They turn into the farmyard off the lane between the farm house and the double cowshed where they would normally amble through the doors and find their own stalls.

 But on this one day each cow that went through the gate stumbled onto their knees, scramble back onto their feet and panicked and fled down to the far end of the yard. It affected some cows worse than others, and with them arriving all spread out in single file from around a corner it caught each one by surprise.
Not knowing what was happening way back at the rear of the herd I realise something was wrong when the last of the cows in front of me collapsed then scrambled with hooves slipping on the concrete and race off to the others standing startled in the far corner of the farm yard.

As I walked through the gate I too felt a tingle through my boots, a shock, a currant of electricity, my feet had boots on that part insulated me from what all the cows had just experienced, it was quite clear it was not going to be a normal pleasant afternoons milking.

We investigated what could be making the yard "live", but it came inconclusive, we turned all mains electric boxes to the off position, but still the yard was "live", so the Midlands Electricity Board (MEB) was called. It was a mystery to them at first, as they found nothing amiss on our premises. They started to follow the main wires out to the first pole out on the roadside, then up to the next farm, then to a group of cottages, at each stage they disconnected and re-connected to eliminate them as the cause of the leakage.
 The village school connection then another farm, then the blacksmiths shop, then on to the village pub. Here they found that electricity was being fed down the neutral wire for some reason and on down to our cowsheds and running to earth through our earth wires, which in turn was clipped to the underground water pipes leading from the house to the cowsheds.

 Once the pub was disconnected from the mains everything returned to normal, and we had the job of coaxing the cows back up the yard and into the shed to be tied up. We were some two or three hours late milking that day, and the cows had had time to clam down and stood chewing their cud wandering why they had not been milked.

On deeper investigation it turned out that the publican had just bought himself a new second hand cooker that he had wired in himself, and made the wrong connections when he installed it. I have no doubt that the MEB would have had a few sharp words to say to him, and the danger he had posed to other villagers and livestock.

Had the connection been made an hour or so later, when all the cows would have been tied in the shed by metal chains, to metal stalls, attached to metal water pipes, connected to all the water bowls, it could have killed the lot. It seems that as low as thirty or forty volts will kill a cow, where as us with wearing boot or wellingtons and we have the ability to run out of the sheds are more likely to have survived the situation.

I was surprised the following day to hear back from someone who was in the pub that night how the publican was laughing and bragging how he had nearly killed off a herd of cows when he turn on his cooker, fried beef and all that, but then I suppose it made a good talking point at the bar for quite a while, but it was no laughing matter at the time for us, it was before the time when earth trips were invented and became compulsory. Electricity is an invisible killer.


Faith is like electricity. You can't see it, but you can see the light.

Author Unknown



Sunday, 15 July 2012

Self Sufficiency

Miles per gallon's going up, so is car's per mile,
Speed is what's on most people's mind, then end up in a pile.


Self sufficiency

In my Fathers years of farming, there was the great depression of the nineteen thirties followed by world war II, which concentrated the governments minds on farming and food production. In my years following the war and rationing farming was appreciated and was treated with importance,
But now our country has once again got into the habit of importing ever increasing amounts of what the country needs to feed its inhabitants, and once again gone into a great (financial) depression.
 
A great majority of people do not give food, or food production any thought and is almost taken for granted. Just a hint of shortage creates a panic by government and individuals as to where they can buy to make up the deficit. But when it is a world shortage and nowhere to by it from, then food prices shoot up.

Houses built before and for some years after the second world war, had sufficient garden to grow a proportion their own food, Then the pressure was on to build more new houses, and on a given area of land they were crammed closer together, in towns and cities they had the high rise flats.

Allotments all over the country have suddenly been revived there being a waiting list in many places to get one. This is where folk who have no garden other than a square of lawn, can go and cultivate an area of ground on which to grow food or any thing they like, (more often used just to get away from her in doors).People these days seem totally incapable of being self-sufficient, no matter how much they grow at home or on the allotment.

I remember father telling us that it took a war to bring the country to realise why they have farmers, and much later towards the end of his life, he harked back to it again, hearing us younger generation moaning about making ends meet and paying more and more wages to less and less men on the farm.



Food Miles
On looking back when I were young, all them years ago,
The horse and cart were still about, a lot we didn't know,
Cars and tractors taking over, plenty of fuel they sup,
Fuel brought in from over seas, and local garages set up.

This has snowballed over the years, cannot comprehend,
Where all the traffic's going to, so fast around the bend,
Miles per gallon's going up, so is car's per mile,
Speed is what's on most people's mind, then end up in a pile.

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.

At one time, veg came out the ground, flour came from the mill,
Chickens walked about the yard, pecking happily to get their fill,
A pig was fattened on scraps, from the house and garden,
Talk food miles, it was food yards, when things were all on ration.

Only thing that Mother bought, was cornflakes in a packet,
Then tins of peaches she would buy, from other side the planet,
Had these when bottled fruit ran out, ate with bread and butter,
Wheat was ground at water mill, bread baked next to the butcher.

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.

Where do you put all the waste produced, pop it in the bin,
Land fill holes are filling up, rotting down n' methane begin,
It all boils down to negligence, in what were doing to our earth,
How it's changing for the worse, all getting bigger round the girth.

On looking where it's going to, well beyond my years,
Food's way down the list to buy, as" farmers" get the jeers,
Bring it all in from abroad, more transport still is needed,
"Look after those who tend our land", make sure the warnings heeded.

Countryman


There is no love sincerer than the love of foodGeorge Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Oh How We Love the Land


Oh How We Love the Land,


Each day that we wake up, on the farm we love,
Seeing what the weathers like, look at the sky above,
Breathe in all the fresh air, as from the fields it drifts,
And hearing all the bird songs, your heart it does uplift.


How the village looked when I was growing up
Its now (2012) been fifty three years since I started farming at the age of twenty one. At that time, and fresh out of Farm College you are prickling with enthusiasm to bring in the latest ideas and the new ways of working. http://www.fwi.co.uk/community/blogs/fretaw/archive/2008/10/02/to-farming-college-i-was-sent.aspx

 In hindsight its always a bit rash to commit to new ideas before they have been proven, so it was my fathers frowns and disapproval that tempered my enthusiasm at some of the thing I wanted to try out.


Silage was just being “trialled” at college , this was hand fed with a pitch fork into a chopper blower and blown into the top of a concrete tower silo. This was reined back to a weld mesh circle with tarred paper lining, the story of that is told here http://yewsfarm.blogspot.com/2012/03/our-first-attempt-at-silage-making.html


Cow cubicles had just been invented, and we went on a farm visit with the college to see the very first cubicles and the cows using them. At home we were tying up cows by cow chain in stalls twice every day, which limited the number of cows kept, and of coarse the milking parlour came in hand in hand with cubicles

 On my third year of farming on my own, I had four more calving than I had got stalls for, and proceeded to built a timber block of four cubicles, the pattern and dimensions were taken from the Farmers Weekly, they published all the new ideas and up to date information of that year.


Sugar beet had never been grown in our immediate area, and to my fathers credit he went for it, ( late 1950’s) http://www.fwi.co.uk/community/blogs/fretaw/archive/2008/09/07/father-grew-sugar-beet-1950-s.aspx  the beet all being hand pulled (we did have a lifter that lifted the beet a few inches enough to break it free from its anchor tap roots) then topped and loaded and taken down to the local station to be loaded into 20 ton rail wagons.

 I recall that we were trained as students on how to correctly pull and top beet to maximise the weight of sugar beet loaded for sale to the factory, and while we students pulled and topped the entire headland round the college field of beet. We were then told a sugar beet harvester was coming on trial from a manufacturer. This was the first beet harvester ever seen by almost every one at the college.

 I grew a few acres of sugar beet for a few years until the stock number grew and the land was required for kale and mangols for the cows.   


Another new invention that first appeared around then was the disc mower, up until then it was all finger bar mowers, which had themselves had had a good fifty years run of unopposed monopoly of grass and corn (wheat oats barley) cutting before that.

The funny thing is that the most up to date combines still use the finger bar blade for cutting the crop. 


 A Good Old Way of Life
 There are the wise and the old, and the young who want to learn,
There’s the hard working not so olds, their fortunes try to earn,
Farming’s got a grip on them, they know no other way,
Come hail or rain or sunshine, it’s just another day,

From early in the morning, till after dark at night,
For crops and stock their caring, they are their delight.
Working hard day by day, in a green and pleasant land,
Don’t have time to stand and stare, have a good look around,

Take in the beauty of where they work, the fields the trees and lanes,
All the years of care and sweat, well out weighs the pains.
It’s just a good old way of life, their families there to rear,
Health and hope and happiness, the harvest brings good cheer.

Countryman )Owd Fred)


A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful than a life doing nothing.
George Bernard Shaw  (1856 – 1950)


Sunday, 1 July 2012

A glance back on the farm 50 years to 1962

Just a look back in my own farm diary of 1962 reveals how farming had just started to recover after the war time restrictions. Machinery inventions and innovations had helped with the shortage of man power, seeing a revolutionary turning point in farming.

In January 1962 we were threshing shoffs of corn out of the stackyard that had been bindered at harvest time (August 1961) just the same as it had been done for almost fifty or more years before that. Then in September 1962 we had a combine in to harvest the wheat and oats, the grain of which was bagged and the sacks slide off the combine onto the ground for carting before it rained.  And until the sacks had been cleared you could not bale the straw.


It was around this time that AI (Artificial Insemination) was just getting established by the then MMB (Milk Marketing Board) . And we had started weekly milk recording to find which were the more productive cows to breed the next generation of heifer calves from.
Every herd back then had their share of cows with long pendulous udders, often with their front teats pointing east west so to speak, not very compatible with the milking machine.

And every herd had its share of cows with bad feet, curled up hooves, all these traits were gradually improved over the next twenty years with the use of AI. Up till then everyone had there own bull, kept off what was judged to their best cow, but all too often the best milker often had one of the above “faults” and of coarse when that bulls young stock eventually came in to their second lactation some six year after your decision to breed from that bull, the truth suddenly come to the surface and you have a quarter of the herd with bad feet or ugly udders. All that change as proven bulls became available through AI.


I had an allocation of sugar beet to grow for 1963, and this was before the beet harvesters had been anything other than experimental, though we did have a lifter that eased under the root to loosen the tap root, to ease heavy back breaking work. The main reason for growing beet then was that the tops of the beet would be used to feed to the cows, instead of kale and we would have an allocation of sugar beet pulp back from the beet factory, and a cash crop of sugar beet to sell to the factory.

 
It was also around that time that the cow cubicles had been invented, the cow men could not believe that a cow would stay and lay down in a stall without being tied up.
The only alternative to stall housing was deep straw bedded. And of coarse with the loose housing came the milking parlour, which up to then had been abreast parlours, now came in the herring bone parlours.


Tractors suddenly it seems, had live power take off’s (PTO) and live hydraulics’, up to this point when you dipped the clutch on the tractor, the baler stopped as well, and when loading muck or buck raking  you could not lift with the clutch depressed.



Father’s Tractor
 Father had a Standard Fordson, all painted in dark green,
It came with iron wheels, and was quite a powerful machine,
Doing the work that four old horse, took all day to do,
Up and down the furrows and it never lost a shoe.
  When fathers horses finally went, he then had tractors two,
It was a David Brown, all new and painted bright red all through,
It had hydraulics and P. T. O., so modern it wasn’t true,
Never missed the poor old horses, walking miles that did accrue.

Countryman (Owd Fred)

Invention is the mother of necessity.
Thorstein Veblen (1857 – 1929)


Saturday, 16 June 2012

People and Families Born in this House.

Going back 150 years, if walls could talk. In twenty two years the family had eighteen children.
Its always a mystery how people lived years ago, particularly in the house that you live in. Our house in its present form was built around the first half of the 1800's.

But there is evidence of a previous house. It must have been taken down to door top height ( or did it burn down around then) as it has narrow two and half inch bricks on some of the outside walls, then when a larger foot print built it was with larger standard three inch bricks.

When the house was extended, the "new" back kitchen where the washing and laundry was done was built over the old well, a well that served both the house and the farm and livestock. In dry summers it ran dry and another well was dug in the 1930's deeper about five yards just outside of the house.

Our house is right next to the village school, the old farm buildings at the top of the picture are now redundant.
Two tractors are in the picture and a blue stock trailer by the house  

The back is the older section of the house





Under the floor boards of the older section we found they were supported on fir poles cut directly from the local spinney, cut to length and dropped in place with all the bark still on. The same up in the roof void, the joists and the perlins are ‘bark on' fir poles, then in one fairly long room where the joists wanted supporting half way along there is a pair of old bowed ships timbers part of which are exposed in the bedroom, these are of very old and very hard oak still with the evidence of sawn and chopped out joints with peg holes for fixing. These are likely to be part of the old timber frame from the previous house.

The family who I took over from had lived in the village for three generations, starting with William F-----e born in 1828, he did not marry until he was in his mid thirties, his wife being some fourteen years younger. Over the next twenty two years they had eighteen children. William, Edward, Ann & Mary twins, Cecilly, Earnest, The seventh child Charles (1872) was the one who took over the farm at the age of twenty three when his father died in 1895, then Ellen, John, Walter, William, Horace, Florence, Arthur, Eleanor, Dora, Arnold, and last one Frank.

One of the lads from this eighteen, eventually became a notable judge in the law courts of London, some went out farming to South Africa, and others spread out all over the world to make their fortune.

Over the years that we have lived here, we have had overseas visitors/relatives who are descendants of William (1828) wanting to look round the old house, and look where and how their grand parents lived and how they were brought up.

I know the family had a reunion a few years ago, with family members flying in from South Africa , Australia and all point of the globe, with, in the region of a hundred members turning up. On the family tree that I have to hand drawn up in 2009 by a descendant living in the north of England, a retired vet, there are over four hundred names of relatives stemming from William at this house and farm, it is thought that there are still some of whom have not traced.

As I said the seventh child Charles (1872) took over the farm on his fathers death and eventually married and they had five children. Marion who worked in the house and no one ever saw her, Ruth who worked in the farm dairy cleaning the dairy utensils, but if anyone came in the yard she would scurry round the back way and back into the house, Earnest who eventually took over the farm in the 1950's when his father died, and Frank who did go in the air force during the war, then worked on the farm. And Margaret who worked at the milking and rearing the calves, it was said the she did have an admirer at one stage in her younger days, but he was sent packing when her mother judged him to be "not good enough" for her.

None of these five ever married and so there were no grand children for Charles (1872).
Earnest was trained as a chemist in his younger days and then came back to the farm taking over from his father and stayed tenant until 1983 when he retired due to ill health, that is when I moved here and took the tenancy..

One interesting item we found in the garden was a huge pestle and mortar, we think it must have been the property of Earnest, it was in good condition and would hold I would think two gallons in capacity, the mortar was made of turned elm wood and starting to decay with age, but the stone/marble mortar or what ever its made of is as new and stand high on a shelf in our kitchen weighing a good quarter of a hundred weight (13.5 kg to them's who need to know).

Their mother Elizabeth, Charles's wife, was very dominating; the children went to school next door but were not allowed to play with the other village children. At play times every day, mornings and afternoons they had to return to their own front gate and wait for the bell to go, before returning to their studies. The children never got to handle money, and had not got any grasp of its value until their parents died.

That was when the brothers started to buy machinery, after a short while they bought a David Brown Cropmaster which had two seats so the brothers could work it together. Then they went on to have two Ferguson Massy 35's, one each, and the matching equipment. The biggest snag for them was that they had no idea of maintaining or repairing machines, all repairs and adjustments were made by the local machinery dealers, they being more stock men.

One of Earnest's early purchases was a bunch of very fine Hereford cross steers for fattening off on grass, he had not been used to bidding at market and his excitement of the day, which was quickly picked up by the auctioneer and the seller of the cattle, he paid well over the odds. When the same bunch were sold some twelve months later they fetched less than when he had bought them. This trend of not knowing the value of money dogged them all the years the brothers farmed.

The same went for the three sisters, it was said that they went into a milliners in town on what must have been their first ever shopping spree free from their mother's domination, and bought five splendid hats each. Not for any special occasion as they never ventured out very often, but just to feel the power of spending money.

The eldest daughter lived in her bedroom for the last twenty years of her life, no one in the village had seen her in all those years. The second daughter worked hard in the house and dairy and fell down the back stairs and broke bones, being old she had never been away from the house and was admitted to hospital, the shock of other people working round and on her killed her. The last sister and two brothers were not able to continue farming, as age was against them and they retired to a house in the next village.

Margaret died partly from the stress over the previous few years, and partly from not being able to cope with a small house, the furniture they took with them filled the house as if it were warehouse and they could not move around. The two brothers could not cope on their own and went into a rest home together. This did not last long as they kept falling out, and one of them moved to another home, they visited each other on a regular basis when they too died after some years in care.



Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.  




Monday, 11 June 2012

I had an encounter with an A10 Tank Buster - blog 22

I had an encounter with an A10 Tank Buster

As you will see, here I am mixing farming with the military US air force.

As  a pr-amble,
 I had never ever met a soldier currently serving the British Army, we live and farm out in the countryside and the only soldiers we ever see are the ones on parade  such as during the recent Jubilee celebrations on TV.
So, just recently I was privileged to meet a young man James P.  he had recently finished a tour of duty in Afghanistan, and now just returned to his base in Germany 10.06.12 after some weeks of leave back home. I was telling him about this encounter I had with these three A10 tank Busters and he was showing us a photo album of the work they were doing out in Afghanistan, showing all too graphical the dangers they faced every day out there on duty. His story and pictures, needed no words, and only now it has brought home to us how much we appreciate the difficult and dangerous work they do.
 It makes my blog pale into insignificance, however here goes. and thank you James and show this your mates, it may make them laugh out loud at my bit of a fright. ----


A few years ago, while ploughing in one of our furthest field, I had an encounter with a United States  A10 Tank Buster, or should I say three of them.

It was the time of the Gulf War, and some American war planes were on training exercise in the UK before being sent on duty giving air cover the troops out in the Gulf. Each day around mid morning three of these aircraft came over at high speed at around a thousand feet, banking and turning so as not to fly directly over outlying villages or towns.


They were like nothing I had ever seen before, being a very distinctive shape and outline, it had twin fins one at each end of the rear wing, and two engines saddle bag fashion half way along the fuselage. They followed each other perhaps a half mile apart, the sudden noise from the first one, particularly if I was driving or looking the other way, it was enough to frighten anyone, then I knew to expect the next, and the third one.

It was the third day when I was working in that same field when I noticed them coming in the distance over the horizon, approaching very rapidly, then when about a mile or so away I realized that they were flying directly at me. Not over me, not round or down on side or the other, but directly at the tractor.

In my mind they had locked their radar, or sights, and aiming at me in the tractor as if it were an enemy tank. I stopped the tractor and in effect froze; it was no use me weaving at four miles an hour to avoid the rockets which could have been deployed in those last seconds. Then when about quarter mile away the pilot must have pulled back on his stick and swooping up from lower than normal, passed directly over the tractor, the following two did exactly the same. It must have given them great satisfaction to have had a "sitting duck" part way through their manoeuvres on which they could practice.

It left me sitting in the cab shaking like a jelly, and could not believe what I had witnessed; what with the noise of the jets over head and what might have happened if one of them had actually produced a friendly fire incident. On the main news that night it reported that A10's were being deployed to the Gulf from their base in Britain.

The exercises continued for another week then all of those aircraft must have flown off on their mission abroad. I have not ever seen another one of those aircraft since other than on the news programs, so if I in my small way had helped those pilots, good luck to them, they will never know me and I will never know them, but I thank them for keeping their fingers off those triggers, and left me to go home for my dinner, shaken but safe.


You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.Eric Hoffer (1902-1983)

Friday, 1 June 2012

The Village Policeman

 

This is a true likeness of how the village policeman worked, he rode around his "patch" ( which was three or four villages forming a parish) on his bike and would suddenly appear from nowhere, often catching an offender red handed. Then they supplied him with a motorised Vespa Scooter, the noise of which blew his cover from quarter mile back. He would get there quickly but the thief would have plenty of time to duck down and run.

The old police house up into the 1950's when a purpose built police house was built with its own lockup for anyone arrested. This was repeated in all the parishes and at that time the police supplied them with a Vespa Scooter to get about more quickly around their beat.

We had a village policeman

We had a village policeman, and he rode round on his bike,
Quietly ride round lanes and tracks, to catch a thief and strike,
Early morning late at night, never knew where he was,
The law he did uphold round here, and to find the cause.

He lived in the police house, and it was brand new,
With a lockup cell, for the criminals he pursue,
Patrolled the parish every day, on his trusty bike,
Pedalled miles kept him fit, his flock to him they liked.

Often stopped for a cup of tea, local news he glean,
Asking who was round about, and of who we seen,
Strangers snooping, stolen stock, thing he wants to know,
Its law and order he must keep, hunt them high and low.

Smugglers of contraband, of food that's all on ration,
Sold or moved outside the law, looked and he took action,
A quiet word with farmer friends, back hander think he got,
Turn a blind eye here and there, as long as it wasn't shot.

Local poachers, knew them all, could keep a watchful eye,
He knew the places where to look, sit and watch and spy,
Catch them red handed on the spot, take them to his lockup,
Question who and where and when, the others to round up.

To get around much quicker, he had a motor bike,
It was a Vesper Scooter, no longer he catlike,
Could hear him coming, along the road way back,
His cover blown fore he gets near, for this we gave him flack.

A panda car, that was next, to keep him dry and warm
Take on parishes more than one, for miles away he's drawn,
His cover stretched too far and wide, not seen about so much,
Of calling on the local folk, he was out of touch.

The local station that was closed, from town they had to come,
Call them on the telephone, so remote they had become,
Every time, a different one, we didn't know who he was,
They didn't know the area; they could have come from OZ.

So bring back the local bobby, give him back his beat,
Get to know the local folk, and walk and get sore feet,
Know the villages round about, woods and tracks and lanes,
Were all behind him, bring him back, the local folk campaign.

Owd Fred



The problem with any unwritten law is that you don't know where to go to erase it.
Glaser and Way

Sunday, 20 May 2012

"Time and Tide waits for no man".


As they say "Time and Tide waits for no man".

Time is ticking by, time that will not be repeated, were not living life as a rehearsal, we live life now, this minute, this hour, this day, this week, this month, this year.

Time is one of those things that when it is passed, it is gone for ever, then, it becomes history. There are people who think they can look into the future and make predictions on what is to come, but decision are often made reflecting on past performance and hope to improve and expand on that.

New inventions alter the way things are done, but no one can invent extra time. The seasons stay the same, and in the same order, plants are geared to the annual germination, growth, flower and seed cycle, as are many of the animals of our planet.

A lifetime is pulled down to years, and years to seasons and months, months to weeks, weeks to days, days to hours , hours to minutes, right down to the ticking of the hall clock, and once it's passed, it's gone.

Land is the same, no one can expand the land in this world, the more land that is put under concrete, and the less land there is to sustain the livestock and people of the world. Food is the balancing factor that, when it is in short supply it automatically culls those that rely on it, be it garden birds surviving the winter, or the human population not able to feed itself. No food, equals no life. It has always been the same over millions of years, the world and everyone on it has to be in balance, and we as humans now have the ability to upset that balance.

The leaders of the countries around the world all end up sooner or later getting things out of balance, be it war or the economy or even wage levels of those who produce nothing to help sustain, or maintain the health or wealth of the world.

Each generation has its own go at getting thing right, and each generation starts from what they were brought up to expect. Each generation likes to think they can improve on the life they had as youngsters, but many do not know how to use land and what it's primarily for, and here it's getting into an almighty imbalance.
The day will come and not in my lifetime, where food will again become important enough to be appreciated. Fewer and fewer people alive now will have lived through the last war, with all the rationing that followed for years afterwards. So we must learn from history, and take note of what sustains life.

Time is ticking by, time that will not be repeated, were not living life as a rehearsal, we live life now, this minute, this hour, this day, this week, this month, this year. Make the most of it, as time passes you by more quickly than you realise. Then you turn round and look back and wonder where all that time has gone.

As they say "Time and Tide waits for no man".

Time is measured in portions

Time goes by for ever, to history that we can't reset,
Minuets made up of seconds, sixty seconds every minute,
And hours are made up of minutes, sixty minutes show,
Days made up of hours, twenty four in a row,
Week made up of seven days Monday to Sunday peaks,
A month is one of twelve, in which it has four weeks,
Spring summer autumn winter, winter has the snow,
A year it follows the seasons, four seasons in a row,
A decade that is ten years, for knowledge to acquire,
A score of years is twenty, at three score five retire,
A century seems a long time, for humans to cavort,
Time is measured in portions, sometimes long or short,
A lifetimes usually shorter, but it varies quite a lot,
Time on earth it tests you, before you hit your plot.

Countryman (Owd Fred)

Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to saveWill Rogers (1879 - 1935)