Sunday, 21 April 2013

Potatoes planted a foot apart blog 15

Potatoes planted a foot apart - was not twelve inches

On the up side it meant that three men could plant more potatoes than six people with different size feet.
Potatoes',   Going on from what Matthew Naylor wrote about potatoes, in one of his blogs,  the earliest I remember at home was of the ground being ridged in shallow ridges and for the muck to be spread along and potatoes dropped in the bottom and the ridges split.

He was talking about how his dad always planted them a foot apart, and that was what I recalled, the trouble was not everyone's foot was the same length, some of the women working had size five or six boots right up to some men with size twelve boots, and that's a big difference. You see taters were carried in an apron sack tied round your waist and the bottom two corners had a loop of cord tied to them and was strung up round your neck, this way you could carry half a hundred weight.

Each step you took you dropped a spud against your toe, and then step forwards with your heel against the one just dropped and so on. So as you see the plant population varied quite widely from row to row depending on what big footed bloke had planted and another with smaller feet,  so overall there could easily be a rough average of a foot apart (in the meaning twelve inches)
When we got onto a tractor ridge plough, we had a potato planter mounted onto it; this consisted of two hoppers for the seed and two seats hanging out the back. Behind one outside furrow was a measuring wheel with a bell on it, to indicate when to drop a spud. It could be varied as to what spacing you required, but it all came down to planting at a foot apart.

The seed was carefully tipped into the hoppers on the headlands, knocking off some sprouted tubers, then as they were hand dropped at every ping of the bell down a narrow spout some more sprouts were knocked off, the larger tater took longer to rumble down the spout and the smaller ones shot down quickly, so again the distance apart varied, then a tuft of muck or grass blocked the chute and there would be a dozen taters missed. Stop the machine, empty the spout, and go back and plant them in the ridge where it was thought they should have been.

Another drawback was the incessant ringing of the bell particularly if your seat was right over it, and the planter, while it save walking and carrying the seed down the ridges it did nothing to improve accuracy the spacing's. On the up side it meant that three men could plant more potatoes than six people with different size feet. So planting a foot apart started to become nearer to the twelve inches that was aimed for.

The man who nothing to boast of but his illustrious ancestry is like a potato - the best part is underground.Thomas Overbury  (1581 - 1613)

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

My First Land Rover

My First Land Rover a "Rag Top" Diesel

 I went down fields counting cattle, and through the ford every day,
Always it got wet from the brook, started rotting the chassis away.

I bought my first land rover I bought second hand some forty odd years ago, (1968ish) it was a light green diesel rag top, the one with a full canvas top forward over the driver, a "Rag Top". We always drove about in it with the back flap rolled up leaving two tensioning straps down to each side of the drop tail gate.

It was difficult to start in winter and when it did start it puthered and puffed light blue smoke every where it went. When starting the engine in a car park particularly if it was a multi story car park, you had to make sure there was no one walking by, the engine was started only when you were ready to go and when you knew you could drive straight out and onto the road. When driving along it was not so noticeable, smoke was diluted so to speak and the engine warmed up.
I was told by a mechanic who knew about such things that if I slackened the bolts holding the injector pump, and put a large pair of stilsons (big spanner) to grip the pump and turn it slightly while the engine was running, to adjust the timing it should solve the smoke problem. Well it did to some extent but we were ready to change it for a new petrol version, rag top short wheel base dark green model.
Out on the road with the family "in the back" we got stuck in traffic, it was stop start, stop start, and the car following was teasing our kids who were sitting along mud wing shoulders each side in the back with two almost leaning out the back with just the tension straps of the canvas for support. Each time the traffic stopped the following car rolled close up to the back of us , worrying the kids and making them squeal thinking there was going to be an accident just stopping inches from our draw bar. After half a dozen stops we were on a down hill gradient and it was a matter of just letting the Land Rover just coast forward then stop, and the following car was doing the same and still stopping just inches from us.
As you may or may not be aware, those old diesel Land Rovers had a red knob to pull to stop the engine, that meant that when the ignition switch was switched off the engine kept running. It also meant that with the ignitions switched off the stop lights do NOT work, so on the next pull forwards, we came to a stop with the ignition off , no brake lights, the following car not giving his full attention that we had already stopped rolled smartly into our drawbar knob splitting his number plate  and denting his ego.
Needless to say on the next stop our brake lights worked perfectly and he kept a respectable distance. It was a day our kids will remember for a long while, but of coarse with today's road regulations they would not be allowed to "ride in the back" and with no seat belts.

The second Land Rover was a petrol one also with a "Rag top"
This new one was a treat to drive and used for everything from going on holiday, to looking cattle down on the meadows and taking cattle to market and kids to school. The big problem on looking back was the ford that had to be forded sometimes only six inches deep more often a foot deep, and in flood up to three feet deep. At that depth we used only went through with the tractor.

After a few years the gritty water in the brakes soon wore out the brake pads and of coarse rusted the brake pipes and with the new MOT testing brake pipes had to be replaced, a few years on and the brake hubs that the brake pads rub on had worn badly .When new brake linings were fitted, half the adjustment was taken up just to get the linings to touch the hub.Ten years down the line the back cross member had to be replaced and welded in, the bolts holding the drawbar for the trailer had pulled through the one wall of the cross member, arrived home from market one day with the drawbar knob swinging about on two bolt that had pulled through six inches and hanging low.
 Not long after that problem was solved a spring shackle on the rear of the front spring had broken and rusted loose, with another big hole in the chassis, that was patched and the bolt made secure again. The next was the body on the drivers side was listing and decidedly low, it was the cross member under the drivers seat that had broken away, this again was sorted out and a new one welded in place, it must have been difficult to find solid metal to weld to. 
But when the old member was removed, it held one end of the fuel tank and the end of the fuel tank fell out, so a new fuel tank was fitted.The alloy body work was good, the engine too, and it looked quite smart for a working Land Rover but you could push a screwdriver through the sides of the main chassis, such was the rot and rust, so it had to be got rid of or sold.
Why advertise and sell them as rot proof when only the alloy panels of the body are rot proof, but then we were on the extreme of testing it with driving through the ford any number of times a day for all the years I owned it. 

 The rest of its demise and its sale is told in the poem below.   

  I Remember My Old Land Rover

I had a Land Rover it was very useful, it was my only car,
Went everywhere in it, and towed both the trailers off a far,
The weekly shopin piled in the back, canvas flap pulled down,
Also took the girls to school, sometimes to a party in a gown,

I went down fields counting cattle and through the ford every day,
Always it got wet from the brook, started rotting the chassis away,
One day it started to list, and run down low on one side,
Thought it was a puncture but no, cross member to body subside.

 Took it to be repaired and have a new cross member fitted,
Being close to end of fuel tank, that too with rot submitted,
Ventualy we got it back, though it was only away three days,
Vowed never to go through the ford again, that was only a faze.

On the passenger side in the foot well, a plate of steel was rotting,
Mud from the road splashing through, enough soil in there for potting,
On a dry day the girls they watched the road, till we hit a puddle,
Their feet were not quite big enough, to cover hole and the rattle

A square of plywood placed over the hole, so they could not see out,
In rough weather it blew it off, revealed a bigger hole worn-out,
Some holes were beginning to show, along the chassis rails, 
Think its time to move it on, put in the local rag under motor sales.

Thinking it was almost scrap, didn't hold out too much hope,
Who would buy a thing like this; he must be a silly dope,
Only had one reply to this, a young man and his girl friend came,
Parked the Land Rover long side a wall, only saw good part of the frame.

A friend of mine he parked on the road, and he stood back a little,
They thought it was another buyer, they didn't bother to haggle,
Pulled out his money all in fivers, and paid me on the spot,
Should have charged a lot more money, but happy with what I've got.

I asked them what they had in mind, for this old wreck of mine,
They're going on holiday to Norway, to see the fiords and alpine,
Its engine was in tip top order, and the gearbox that's OK,
 Its just the bit that hold all together, that I forgot to say.

In retrospect I could advise, when they finished their break,
It would last for two weeks, then push into fiord from highest peak, 
Never heard from them again, so don't know if they survived,
Or what happened to my old Rover, think it must have died.

Countryman  (Owd Fred)

Quote.     It is better to wear out than rust out
Bishop Richard Cumberland