Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Hay Elevator

The hay elevator

I save it just in case, nothings ever chucked away,
Piles of it every where, It might come in one day.

I Remember the old cast iron wheels

  Long old elevator, use to pitch the corn,
High in the hay barn, before the combine born,
After harvest it was thatched, with straw all long,
Stood out all the winter, next harvest came along.
When it became redundant, thatch it rotted away,
Right through the timber, and start off decay,
Eventually a match was put, and burned the timber out
The iron was scrapped except, the wheels they’re still about.
Countryman  (Owd Fred)


 There is four of these wheels off the old elevator, two large and two a bit smaller.
As long back as I can remember loose hay was pitched onto the wagons with pitch forks by hand, and then from the wagon drawn by the shire horses to a hay barn or built into a hay stack in a convenient spot in the corner of the field. Then hay loaders came in they called them pitchers, and at the stack came elevators. 
This pitcher was towed behind the cart that was being loaded, the example above was capable of loading green crop as well as hay.

When I took over this farm twenty six years ago at the end of the hay barn was what remained of an old elevator. The previous farmer’s father had purchased it a good many years ago being one of the first in the area. At the end of hay and corn harvest all the inside storage was full, so it was folded away into its transport mode pulled round to the end of the barn and thatched.

Batons (as opposed to bales) are straight straw after it has been threshed and put through a binder, tied with two bonds of string and around five foot long. These were laid length ways all the length of the elevator pyramid fashion, then further batons of straw were straightened and used to thatch the whole of the elevator. Being made of wood with cast iron wheel and cast brackets and pullies it had to be kept dry when not in use. However when pickup balers came in the elevator fell out of use it just stood and stood year after year with its old thatch rotting away, and as rain soaked through it rotted the timbers until it resembled a muck ruck with wheels.
It came to me to clear up the old elevator in my first year here, and before next harvest started we stuffed more dry straw underneath and chuck a match in to burn it out.

All the ironwork was sorted out of the ashes and chucked onto the scrap ruck save the wheels, the engine had been removed a long time ago and sold, it had been a Bamford single cylinder water cooled petrol engine with an open flywheel and a flat pulley on the drive shaft.

I know I’ve used this one before but it just fits the bill in this slot.

The Scrap Ruck
I got a pile of scrap iron, and it builds up real fast,
And another round the corner, where I dropped it last,
I save it just in case, nothings ever chucked away,
Piles of it every where, It might come in one day.
Broken bits of tractor, and its off cut bits of steel,
Some is thick and some is thin, and some a bit of wheel,
Angle iron in six foot lengths, some point was a bed,
Other bits chucked into the rucks, some still painted red.
Nettles growing through it, and it makes a nesting site,
For rats and mice and vermin, who are only out at night,
Disturbed they run like mad, get away from you or me,
And where do they head for, their scrap ruck home with glee.
I’m looking for a bit of metal, the size ta mend a gate,
Seen some in the scrap ruck, but I can’t locate,
Remember when I chucked it, don’t know which pile it’s in,
Turn each pile over and see, praps neath that pile of tin.
It’s rusting in the winter, when the snow and rain soaks in,
It’s rusty and it’s flaking, and its no use for welding,
Don’t know why I saved it, cus the price of scraps sky high,
Have to have a clear out, home for rats and mice deny. 
Countryman  (Owd Fred)

   A harvest of peace is produced from a seed of contentment.
American Proverb

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Story of Hobble End Cottages

Story of Hobble End Cottages

Frosty weather glistens inside, a fridge you could compare,
Roof half filled with starling's nests, built up over the years.

In one of our farthest fields, situated about a mile east of the village was a pair of cottages known as Hobble End. There was no road not even a cart track to them, only a foot path, one of which led directly to the village then the other way it was about two miles into town. They were estate cottages, one occupied by a woodman and the other a farm worker. They were heated and the cooking done on open fires and lit with oil lamps and candles.
All that remains now is the ritch black soil of the garden, and a few bricks that keep coming up every time it is ploughed. In the hedgerow is the remains of the old front wicket and a galvanized pipe that once carried water from the well to the houses. There is no chance of buried treasure as it was very poor families that lived there, every now and then bits of metal do get ploughed up, its very often old hand tools used in the garden and bits of broken pottery.

Down in the small brook that ran by in the hollow was another wicket where the footpath crossed it and when any family flitted (move to another house) in or out, it was with horse and cart, and the same when they wanted coal or logs, all transport in this way
At the fare end of the garden was the inevitable toilet that needed emptying every now and then. It was the practice to dig a deep hole and keep pouring it in, then soil it over, no wonder the soil was so dark and rich in these old gardens. In local terms this type of toilet was called "bucket and chuckit". Needless to say these latrines were dug well away from the ‘well'.
They also had a pig sty where a pig would be fattened on scraps and waste from the house and garden, and eventually killed and cured for feeding their large families.

 How we Lived in our Old House
 (in this case it was a farm house, but the cold and lack of insulation was the same in all the old houses, only the thatched houses benefitted from roof insulation)

Insulations none existent, big jumper you must ware,
Half timbered single brick, few inches plaster of horse hair,
Frosty weather glistens inside, a fridge you could compare,
Roof half filled with starling's nests, built up over the years.

Kitchens the warmest place, coal fire in big old range,
Heats the oven and boils, the kettle on the chimney crane,
Boils the taters and stew, toast the bread on a fork,
From the ceiling hangs a cloths drier, lifts and lowers on cord.

Bedroom bove the kitchen, only room upstairs warm,
Usually the kids have this room, that is always the norm,
Other rooms are chilled and cold, cool in summer though,
This is how we lived them days, kids now will never know.

Old iron bedstead webbed with steel, straw mattress on the top,
Then feather mattress covered with a white sheet she'd pop,
Mother made a groove up this, dropped us into bed,
A sheet two blankets and eiderdown, feather pillow lay ya head.

Best front room not often used, too posh to use every day,
Used over Christmas and party's, best crockery out on display,
Fathers roll top desk in there, his bills and letters wait to pay,
Always locked cus of cash in their, he always had last say.

Now heating was a big open fire, ingle nook chimney above,
Logs as long as ya can lift, one end on the fire to shove,
The bigger the fire, bigger the draught across the floor,
The heat goes up the chimney, fresh air comes in under the door.

A cellar beneath front room, brick steps leading down,
Couple of vents to the garden, the mesh with weeds overgrown,
Air circulation its not good, and musty damp and wet,
Timber in the floor above, gone weak and springy pose a threat.

A room with settlass all way round, there to salt the pig,
Not been used now for many a year, doesn't look so big,
Salt has drawn up the brickwork, all through to outside
Bricks are flaking and rotting, replace section of bricks decide.

Mother kept a big tin bath, hung on a nail outside back door,
Brought it in to the hearth, filled with kettle and big jug she pour,
Youngest first then nother kettle, warm it agen for the second,
Cold night our steaming little bodies, hot crisp towel it beckoned.

So we kids lived in the big kitchen, our bedroom top of back stairs,
Long old sofa under the window, father had his own armchair,
Big old peg rug in front of the fire, we played and sat on that,
Large old radio in the window, then hurray first tele in front we sat.

Countryman (Owd Fred)
Every mile is two in winter.George Herbert (1593 - 1633)

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Under achievement of output big style

I read the Farmers Weekly, ov read it all me life,
Read it in the good times, and read it through the strife,
In its words and pictures, brings us all the news,
Tells us of our leaders, n' tells us of their views.

This farm could double its output and produce food for human consumption and help to stave off shortages, but then it's only when we have shortages that we get a realistic price. We can't win which ever way we go.
In the late nineteen fifties the Church Farm buildings were home to forty two dairy cows, and about thirty young stock of varying ages, plus one stock bull.

The old house, half timbered, old hand made tiles on the roof

These were supported on ninety six acres, made up of forty five acres of permanent pasture and meadow land. The remaining land was either three to five year grass leys rotated with corn and root crops plus kale. The older grass leys would be ploughed out and winter wheat planted the rotation then following the wheat would be planted to turnips, mangols, and kale. Following on the year after it would be barley under sown to a grass ley again.

The night pasture for the dairy cows was through the gate at the bottom of the yard and across the sleeper bridge over the Millian Brook. Day pastures were down the road and through the ford (although most preferred to queue up and cross the foot bridge), then up the Moor Lane.
 Here there was the Gravely bank, the Hazel Graze, the Moor cover field and below that was the Iron Dole. All these fields were on the right hand side of the lane. On the left side was the three Ash Pits Fields, then on down to this side of the railway bridge was the Pingles on the right and the Fosters on the left. Over the bridge was thirty acres of river meadows, on the uneven meadows the young stock would spend the summer, the rest would be mown for hay.
In the autumn the barn should have two bays of hay and two bays of corn in sheaves (this was before combines came to this area).

Deliveries of cattle food were unloaded directly into the loft; roots, hay & straw were dropped into the "Pop hole" below. The roof on the left of the picture was the double cowshed where it held twenty six cows

At the far end of the stack yard (from the "pop" hole) up the road side the mangols were stored and covered over to protect them from frost. Kale and turnips were harvested daily and fed up until Christmas then the through to spring it was the stored mangols.
On the right just through the yard gate was the main byre, where twenty six cows were tied up for milking, it was a modern shed at that time having thirteen up each side. In winter they would stay in over night, and on cold wet winter day brought in again for days as well after a spell of exercise. In front of the cows was a fodder bing where the cows could be fed from the front with hay and mangols, access to these passages was from either end.

The Turnip Shed 1960. This shed had a pop hole into the stack yard where the root crop could be tipped down into the shed and shoveled into the pulper seen here, and bales of straw and hay were brought in that way for feeding the cows.
At the bottom of the yard a door led into a stable for three shires horses. Next door up was a small loose box sometimes used as a bull pen. The third door was a cowshed for four cows and the corner door was cowshed for three cows. The large shed on the right housed twenty six dairy cows. The Rota Spreader hooked to the tractor parked under a lip of concrete so muck could be pushed directly into it.

The second shed down from the road side was the engine shed where the milking pump was situated and the mill for grinding the corn, and in the third was a cowshed for three cows. the fourth for four cows A door out onto the yard took you down some long steps to a very narrow loose box where the bull was often kept, then the bottom large door was the stable for three shires. With horses having gone out of fashion the stalls were removed and then was used as a loose box for rearing calves.

Along the bottom of the yard was a low tile roofed shed for nine cows, these being a bit spread out from the other cows, it was often filled with dry cows, and eased the amount of walking about with the milking buckets. Up the yard adjoining that shed was two more loose boxes for young stock, and more recently, the top one was converted into a purpose built bull pen.

Along the top of the yard behind the house is three cart shed then the garage for the car and a large loose box, and at the end under the old yew tree was the work mans loo with the wooden seat over a bucket.
In the centre of the yard was the midden as in all farm yards locally. The sheds could be cleaned out all winter and only a short way to wheel it. On frosty days the muck ruck would be shifted and spread on the next years root ground. Now in the drawing it was modernized so muck went out every day in the muck spreader.

In 1985 Church farm land was amalgamated to adjacent farms and the house and building sold. With the ever decreasing numbers of people working on farms, village centre farms became unviable. Cattle needed to be herded out to pasture each day and back for evening milking along the village roads.
At its height there were six herds on the roads of the village between the time of 8 and 9am and again between 3.30 and 5.30pm over 200 dairy cows altogether. There was a cowman for each herd plus at least one helper, twelve men (Today 200 is a one man job), then the Wagoner (or tractor driver as he was latterly known) would do all the off yard jobs. All the cottages in the village were tied to a particular farm and one next to the school was tied to the blacksmiths shop.

So it was after twenty five years at Church Farm we moved a hundred yard up to Yews Farm. This was two hundred and fifty acres but not suitable for a dairy unit, or should I say not suitable to extend the dairy cows beyond forty or so cows. This was when we went over to suckler cows and grew quite a lot of cereals, twenty five years on again most of the land is in one stewardship scheme or other, we produce no wheat or barley, and part of the arable land we have a contractor who ploughs , works, and plants maize which is then chopped by a neighbouring farmer for his dairy herds winter feed.

In younger hands and a bit of encouragement from the government to produce food, this farm could double it output and produce food for human consumption again and help to stave off shortages, but then its only when we have shortages that we get a realistic price. We can't win which ever way we go.

I Read the Farmers Weekly

I read the Farmers Weekly, ov read it all me life,
Read it in the good times, and read it through the strife,
In its words and pictures, brings us all the news,
Tells us of our leaders, n' tells us of their views.

As kids we run and grabbed it, when it first arrives,
Four of us to read it, tis a wonder it survives,
It was mainly the pictures, that we liked to read,
When father picks it up, all dog eared from stampede.

The latest farm machinery, with up to date designs,
Tested on the fields and farms, n' way up steep inclines,
Powerful engines high horse power, bigger wheels to match,
Bigger ploughs and implements', and see they're up to scratch.

New foreign breeds of cattle, brought from round the world,
To compliment our native stock, at shows new flags unfurled,
Almost every year a new breed, a new cattle line to report,
The country where it's coming from, how many to import.

New sprays new seeds new ways to sow, all on test for us,
To make a better judgment, n' how to combat fun-gus,
Some are good some not quite so, its in the fields they test,
Reported in the Farmers Weekly, n' tell us which is best.

For me it's gone full circle, they've got it all on line,
Can read all what's been written, to new medium consign,
The paper one it still come through, tradition here to stay,
The good old Farmers Weekly, the farming news relay.

Countryman (Owd Fred)

Monday, 4 March 2013

Computers Read the Lot

Computers Read the Lot

The moneys gone to Euros, bank rate measures that,
Information all in plastic, and its in your wallet sat,
Converted into bar codes, so computers read the lot,
Nothing ever private now, they know all of what you've got.

Were in a plastic (card) revolution right now, and no doubt it will not be long before they get rid of the cheque book.
My first card a few years ago, I say a few years ago because I was well out of date with these sort of ideas, was copied, or cloned or the number stolen. The first I knew about it was when my statement came and it stated that I had bought a new television at a London store for £355. Of coarse the card was stopped albeit late, and fortunately no other things had been purchased from the card. A new card was sent the old one destroyed and the money lost was reinstated back into my account.

On looking back on what had happened or how the number had been stolen, each Friday we nip off to the super market to do the weekly shop, and that weekend I filled up with fuel and drew some cash from the cash point in Tesco's shop wall, and unbeknown to me and a lot of other people there was a scanner stuck over the hole where the card goes in and the numbers logged, quite a few other folk had been caught in the same scam that same day.
About a year previous to my financial experience, her indoors had her purse stolen in the same super market while pushing her trolley round the store. A youth had been watching her and at an opportune moment, rushed by and lifted the purse from a shoulder bag, I know it should not have been open, but these things happen. Suppose you would call it a mugging.
 The alarm was soon raised, as a shelf stacker saw the incident and raced after the robber who legged it out of the store and along side the river Sow and over a foot bridge. On his way he must have stripped out the contents and threw the empty purse into the river .

We went through the rigmarole of stopping the card and obtaining a replacement. Then over six months later we had a phone call from a Seven Trent river workman, his gang were working on weeding out the river Sow through the town, he had dragged out the stolen purse, looked , and the plastic card was still in it, he found our phone number from our name on the card, and the stolen purse was returned useless muddy and going rotten.

Another silly incident was when my card date expired and a new one sent in the post, on reading through the bumf that comes with the new card it said in no uncertain terms that the old one must be destroyed immediately. With that I grabbed the card and popped it through the shredder, only to realise I had shredded the new card. Needless to say I had an embarrassing call to the bank to explain what had happened and to plead to them to send yet another new card. Suppose you could have called it a "senior moment".

Plastic Card

Down to do the shopping, they're open till very late
Paid for on a plastic card, flexible friend a mate,
A number that they call a pin, must be punched in right,
This can use any time, even day or night,
Slong as money's in the bank, it will spit it out,
Over drawn is evil, of money you've got a drought.
Spending more than what you've got, do ya sums all wrong,
The trouble that it causes, bank letters they are long,
Makes ya sweat and worry, and cannot settle down,
Pace about and have a shout, it gives ya face a frown.

Countryman (Owd Fred)

Numbers Galore

Phone numbers and the mobile, bank sort codes n' accounts,
Credit card that can be skimmed, all ya savings trounce,
Car numbers and engine numbers and chassis numbers too,
Model numbers part numbers, colour codes pursue.

House numbers street numbers, area post codes an all,
All across the country, codes for counties large and small,
Field numbers, map numbers, parish number long,
Acres turned to hectares, if ya know where they belong.

SBI and there's IACS, vendor as well,
PI and a Trader numbers, and Stewardship numbers tell,
There's numbers for every thing, for this that and tuther,
Fill ya head with confusion, so many thing that got to cover.

Gallons turned to litres, pounds and ounces gone to grams,
Miles turned to kilometres, and foot to millimetre crammed
Therms have turned to Mj's, power in Hp turned to Watts,
Heat is Btu to lbs, is now into Joules per Kilogram it jots.

The moneys gone to Euros, bank rate measures that,
Information all in plastic, and its in your wallet sat,
Converted into bar codes, so computers read the lot,
Nothing ever private now, they know all of what you've got.

Countryman Owd Fred)

Money is like a sixth sense without which you cannot make a complete use of the other five.W. Sumerset Maugham (1874 - 1965)