Friday, 28 June 2013

A Grip like Iron

A Grip like Iron

I don't know how mother came to have such a strong grip, (she could actual crack a walnut in her hand)  if she caught a hold of you for some reason, there was no hope of getting away, perhaps it was the hand milking in her younger days that gave her that grip, I remember some old cows were very hard to milk, it seems to have been bred out of them nowadays along with the bad feet and curled up toes and pendulous udders.


Mother had a Grip like Iron

When mother was young she had help, around the family farm,
Milking cows by hand them days, strengthened sinews in her arms,
Her hand were still ladies hands, no bulky muscle show,
Belied the strength built into them, beyond you'd ever know,

Mother had a grip like iron, nothing failed her grip,
Screw lids on jars and bottles, give it me she'd quip,
The grip she had to skin a rabbit, or ring an old hen's neck,
Crush a grape; she'd crush a walnut, power she'd got by heck.

Round by the coal ruck was her hammer, there to break the coal,
Coal it came in big lumps, some from steam loco it was bowled,
For coal alone the big lump hammer, it was there reduce.
Best steam coal was hard and bright, cracked it down for use,

When we were young she'd lace our boots, bow she'd pull real tight,
They never came undone all day, right into the night,
Sewing did with button thread, no tear came open again,
And buttons only came off once, thread she used times ten.

With age her hands were not so nimble, feel it gradually went,
Knitting that she'd done all her life, on wool she no more spent,
Her skin and nails were without blemish, soft and pink they were,
But on grip she never lost her strength; she was the best mum ever.

Countryman (Owd Fred)

When she sat down in the evening, mother would pick up her knitting, she could knit without looking and when we had our first television she could watch and knit at the same time. Jumpers hats gloves scarves socks( with socks she knit button thread along side the wool while knitting round the heels) she always had a good stock of wool. There seemed to be two stock colours, grey and fawn, other colours were bought for a specific jumper or sweater. When the need arose she would be darning socks, nowadays they get thrown and a new pair bought.
She liked to experiment with new patterns which she gleaned from her magazine, but mostly she only did the patterns up the front where it would be seen, then she could "bomb" on with the back and would produce a jumper in a week.


Mothers Weekly Magazine

Mother had weekly magazine, knitting patterns every week,
These she used to knit up the fronts, of our jumpers so to speak,
Some were cable some were ribbed, some were chequered squares,
Some were bobbles in a lump, couldn't buy anything that compares.

The wool she bought was in skeins, a dozen at a time,
This she got us to hold while she wound into balls like twine,
We held our hands out at full stretch, while she wound full tilt,
Arms would ache on the second one, then our arms would wilt.

Brother next in line was asked, turns we had to take,
Wool was grey, or fawn, or blue, for what she'd got to make,
Socks she knit one every night, jumpers took over a week,
Stitch the front and back together, sleeves to the arm holes tweak.

Started with the welt, the grippe bit round the waist,
Tested it on the one who it's for, half way round our hips she placed,
On up to the armpits, try it for length again,
Then the neck onto the shoulder, it was a blooming pain.

Next the socks they're mostly grey, started top welt round,
These were pulled up to our knee, and turned the top bit down,
Knit on down to the heel, measured it on our legs,
Three needles used on this job, pulled them on like stuck out pegs.

Heels we always wore out first, so in with the wool she knit,
Strong button thread along side the wool, in pattern this wasn't writ,
So when they did get bare and thin, she darned them time agen,
Then they were called our working socks, for us working men.

Sometimes when jumpers, got wore out up the front,
She would unpick the seams, and rewind a whole segment,
Then would knit again, into little gloves or woolly hat,
In winter balaclava, or scarves on many things she'd tat.

When we were young she'd knit and knit, no woollies bought at all,
As we left home she knit again, next generation when they were small,
Knit up to her seventies, when finger would not flex no more,
Big blow it was, she knit by feel, for old age yet, there is no cure.

Countryman (Owd Fred)

Don't rule out working with your hands. It does not preclude using your head.Andy Rooney (1919 --)

Saturday, 22 June 2013

The Old Kitchen Floor


I remember when we were kids, kitchen floor it sloped,
Sat down at meal times, mother to top end coped.


The old kitchen floors were always laid to enable them to be washed down with a bucket of water, the water then run through a hole in the wall and into an outside grid.
In the 1940's I remember a kitchen on a smallholding, (not our kitchen) it adjoined the cowshed, just open the door on one side of the kitchen, and there were the cows all tied by the neck by a chain to their stalls, all ten of them.
The only snag was that the cowshed was top side of the kitchen and the drain from the shed ran through the kitchen under the table and out the other side in an open gully. Every time a cow passed (pee'd) water it would run swiftly almost under ya feet when sitting at the table, to anyone outside cow keeping would be horrified, but the smell of cow urine is just a normal part of a cowman's everyday smells and has a tendency, I am told, to help to clear your sinuses'.
The dung was wheeled out of the door that led to the fields, the way the cows came in and out, but the liquids took the shortest route and followed the slope of the cowshed and kitchen floors.
 It would not be aloud to happen these days, on health and safety grounds, but it did back then, and clean milk was sold. The kitchen was clean and the gully kept rinsed and clean.
Those cows were often seen back then, being grazed up the wide road side verges tended by the elderly owner who stayed with them. That house and small cowshed have long since been the victims of barn conversion, modernization, what ever you want to call it, but I will always remember it as the house where the cowshed and house were all as one.
Our kitchen at home when we were kids, had blue brick floor and a slope of four inches from top end to the lower corner, the drain hole had been stopped up to prevent rats and mice coming in, and it was mopped rather than sloshed down every day, I remember when mother had her first electric cooker, it had to have a patch of floor levelled up especially for it, other wise the pots and pans on the cooker would have had too much of a tilt East to west.



I remember The Kitchen Floor it sloped.


I remember when we were kids, kitchen floor it sloped,
Sat down at meal times, mother to top end coped,
Kitchen table vinyl cloth, also it did tilt,
Father down one side, safe from anything that spilt.


Always there is one, who's clumsy as a kid,
Put him at the lower end, own mess he is amid,
Tip the water over, or a cup of tea,
It runs down the table, straight into his own knee.


Four of us took it in turns, not to be so clumsy,
Other three would laugh, sat as dry as we could be,
A dam good lesson that it was, with instant results,
 Chair at the lower end, reserved for bumble foots.


Countryman (Owd Fred) 


We live every day of our lives on one slippery slope or another.
Taken from a quote by  the ‘Anonymous Preacher'

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Garry the bull

Garry the bull (1996-2008)

 Garry splaying his front feet way out as if in an earth quake, and he still would not go down, so after ten minuets he was jabbed again.

 We had a bull a few years ago, we called him Garry, I had seen Garry advertised on the notice board at our local vet's surgery as a quiet Simmental bull good stock getter and easy to handle and seven years old.
After taking down the phone number off the bottom of the card, I rang his owner and duly went to see him "at home" and bought him. It turned out that part of his pedigree name was Linaka, so of coarse it was an obvious choice to shorten it to Garry after the retired footballer of that name.
Garry was a huge size and had to reverse himself out of the trailer when he was delivered to me, and within a few days was turned in with our suckler cows. He seemed a lazy and laid back sort of chap who when the cow he was following had been served once, he cleared off grazing. In fact I thought he was not working half the time but in the first three weeks he had successfully stopped all the cows.


This is Garry the Simmental in his last year with us 


Although he had been grazing on soft meadows with the cows for two years he gradually became lame, it was a growth or a corn that had developed between his cloven hooves in all four feet, one corn on his front foot became very sore and we called the vet for advice.
The only thing to do was to drop him with a needle, get him down and do the corns on all four feet, and give a good pedicure at the same time. So an appointment was made and we drove him into the coral ready for the vet, the vet being a young inexperienced girl who had been briefed on how to go about the job. A fair estimate was made of his weight, the dose was calculated and loaded into the syringe, Garry was trapped  behind a gate, (behind a gate because if he went down in the race he would be trapped) and his dose administered.
It gradually took effect and he should have gone down within ten minuets, after half an hour he was still standing swaying around with his front feet well splayed out making it impossible to push him down, even with some rope tied round his legs he still thwarted our effort to fell him, a further small dose was given but to no effect.
The job was abandoned; Gary was left in the coral to recover for a couple of hours, and a vigorous discussion was held with the vets. A further appointment was made and a senior vet came to resume the job that was started four days before. The same estimations were made as to his weight, and the medication was upped to a sure fire level of knocking him out. Just the same thing went on again with Garry splaying his front feet way out as if in an earth quake, and he still would not go down . So after ten minuets he was jabbed again, almost a kill or fell dose, we were told it was dangerously close to a lethal dose, and another ten minutes with his legs well bound, he finally went down.
Garry's head was pulled round and up to him shoulder, and held there while all his operations took place, we file and trimmed his hoof soles, and the vet got his knife out and cut the worst corn off, sprayed with purple spray and bound it to keep it clean and to stem the flow of blood. The other three feet the corns were frozen, with an aerosol the like that plumbers use to freeze a pipe to stop water flow when repairing a pipe.
The worrying bit now was the reverse injection, and how soon he would get up, in fact it was the best part of an hour before he did stagger to his feet, stayed in the coral for another three hours, then he was loosed back onto the meadows, with his bandaged foot being swung wide as he could not make out what had happened to him. After five or six days his bandage gradually unfurled and dropped off and he started to walk freely once again.
Garry's time came to an end when those same corns grew again, and the replacement heifers of his were needing another bull, so regrettably he was despatched off to meet his maker.
During the last foot and mouth outbreak in the 1990's we were forced to retain a bull calf out of one of our own cows, an Aberdeen Angus bull, we used him and kept a few  replacements from him, as we had done with the Charolais  bull before him. Then more recently we had a Hereford bull named Winston off a neighbour who is a breeder, so you can see from any photo's we have of our cows they are all beef bred, a total mixture of breeds, I like to think we have, hybrid vigour.

This is Winston the sire to all our present young stock

There's always one in every herd

There's always one in every herd, who won't respect the fence,
The one that's bold and watches out, not much common sense,
Test the boundary, test the posts, test rotten barbed wire,
That bit of grass just out of reach, the best she must acquire.

Gather the herd all round a gate, she's the one looking at you,
Ready to bolt and dodge and run, a test you think she knew,
She gets away the others follow, guess who's in the lead,
To the furthest corner of the field, just another stampede.

The electric fence its no use, the shock she can withstand,
Pushing the wire two yards beyond, break the single strand,
The other cows they follow her, they know she's got the knack,
Of how to beat the system, and always first to the rack.

Countyman  (Owd Fred)


Suckler Cows
The suckler cows they graze all summer, until we wean the calf,
When the calves we take away, cows they bellow not by half,
The calves the same in shed we keep, until they settle in,
Gates are high and fences too, all to stop them from escapin.

Three days it lasts, until they feel, the pain of hunger's stronger,
The cows they clear off down the field, and hang about no longer,
Calves have no choice but stay, feed them corn and feed them hay,
One month they need get used to living, in the yard all in a bay.

They all get wormed and gain no weight, till frettin they've forgotten,
Put them out on clean grass, feed supplements, no silage rotten,
There they will grow and gain the weight, they lost plus plenty more,
When at last they do get fat, read the scales its there we can't ignore.

Countryman (Owd Fred) 


Don't take the bull by the horns, take him by the tail, then you can let go when you want to.Josh Billings (1818-1885)