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)