Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Of all the things that we have changed

When you take on land or even a whole farm for the first time, there are a whole lot of things to be changed or improved to bring it round to your own way of thinking and farming. When I took this farm on we piped in some mid field open ditches, made wider gateways between arable fields, save taking the header off the combine when moving to the next field. Water troughs and mains water pipe pulled under with a mole plough across to grazing fields, which had been watered by springs, which dried up mid-summer time.
 A great heap of soil along the lower boundary where the headlands had been plough out of the field off the top land, had to be pushed down further to form an extra acre or so out onto the peaty edge of the fields involved.
Lower branches of hedge row trees were lopped to get machinery under, with the coming of cabs and mirrors on tractors and the combine it was essential to utilize the whole of the field.
My father used to send two of us lads out with a tractor and a single furrow horse plough to get that two extra furrows closer to the hedge.   

Sheds for loose housing cattle were all made so the tractor and front end loader could get in to clean them out, and back in my father’s day when I was a kid, he changed all his cowshed from the old oak stalls and blue brick floors to new pre-cast concrete stalls and smooth concrete floors that could be scrubbed.
In my own period of modernization cows in stalls gave way to cow cubicles and self-feed silage the cubicles being invented around 1960  and it would be almost 1970 when my own cows were introduce to cubicles. Along with this the milking parlours came in and bulk milk tanks, in my first abreast parlour we milked directly into churns until the road milk tank collection started.
And so it is that now I am retiring, the new young and keen farmer who is taking over the land I have farmed for the last forty five years, he will modernize and model the fields to his pattern of farming, in his case milking cows in a big way. I started with twenty six cows on ninety six acres in 1960 building up to seventy two cows plus followers by 1985, then in the village the first ninety cow herd and now 2013 a 350cow herd building up to 400 this next year. I can’t imagine where it will all go in the next lifetime of farming up to the 2060’s. 

 Figure 1. Old redundant farm buildings with the old stable door on the right housed three shire work horses, then large loose box for rearing calves, the large drift house doors where loads of loose hay (by horse and cart) were pitched onto the lofts on the left and right for feeding the calves, and down to the shire horses in the stable and the cows in the cowshed to the left  

Figure 2.  On the left of this picture is the cowshed door with another pitching door for hay into the lofts

 Figure 3 This is the oldest section of the farm buildings, as we find nowadays modernization and extending cow housing must have taken place a hundred or more years ago
 Figure 4  Door on the left was the modern flat roofed dairy where milk was cooled and measured into churns, door in the corner was the engine shed where an old open crank engine worked the barn shafting and latterly an electric motor installed to do the same job and later    still the milking machine vacuum pump, also the coal boiler for steaming and sterilizing the milking utensils. The double doors with the loft above was the feed shed with all the barn machinery, in the loft driven by the loft shafting was a straw chopper a cake crusher, linseed cake and ground nut cake came in big curled up slabs and had to be ground or crushed down so cows could eat it. At the back of the feed shed was a root pulper, to slice mangols and turnips mixed with chopped straw and fed along to the cows in the stalls

This shows the low sliding door on top a churn stand where the milk lorry/truck would pull alongside to off load his empty churns and load the full ones, behind is a continuation of the cowsheds, in all there was stalls for 45 cows. These building have now 2013, stood un-used for cows now for almost thirty five years, it is expected that they will be converted into three or four houses, (for people, god help them).

Memories of how the farm,
Looked when we first arrived,
Of all the things that we have changed,
N’ things for which we strived,
The gates the fences fields and sheds,
The land we plough for crops,
Of all the weather hail or rain,
The work it never stops.

Owd Fred

Retirement kills more people than work ever did.
Malcolm S. Forbes

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Tractor Road Run with my Fordson E27N and International B250 tractors

Every so often around about our area someone or other organizes a tractor road run for charity in this case it was for their local church. We used to have a road run organized in the next village timed to be in between Christmas and new Years day but that one has now stopped, in a way it was a victim of its own success as over a hundred tractors took part every year come rain/snow sun and frost they always turned out, it took best part of half an hour for the stream of tractors to go through any point on the run.

Back to the run a fortnight ago, (October 2013) around fifty tractor turned up, this still took a good quarter of an hour for them to clear a road junction or other obstacle on the lanes.
It was decided that the oldest tractors would follow the lead tractor, with younger more modern tractors follow and bring up the rear, this was in case an old one broke down the others would be able to assist or tow the victim the remaining distance of the run.

I took two tractors, the first was the old Fordson E27N  a TVO fueled tractor  (Tractor Vaporizing Oil) the equivalent of this is what we use to heat our house, so that tank gets raided, but that fuel is too "dry" so we add a gallon of diesel to every ten gallon of "TVO". In fact when up to its working temperature it will vaporize and run on neat diesel.
As you may know or not know this tractor does not have a thermostat, don't think they had been invented when they designed these engines, so we have to manually lift and lower the blind on the front of the radiator.
For the likes of a road run it needs to be about half way down, in heavy work it would be all the way down, and as soon as you stop for more than five minutes, it essential the the blind is all the way up to keep it hot, if it cools it will not vaporized its TVO and will oil the plugs up and then be misfiring. When starting it from cold with a crank handle it starts on petrol  

A before picture as it was when purchased
After it had been done up, note the
 radiator blind is to the top 
Crank starting

Starting out with rad blind half way down

The second tractor I took was my old International B250, the one I drove from new back in 1956,  57 years old this was over hauled and sprayed up to almost new condition eight years ago,

This is both tractors at a spring road run a few years ago
The B250 was driven to the host farm some ten miles away, the Fordson had a lift on a trailer behind the Landrover. The road run was around thirty miles, both tractors run well, with the old International doing in excess of fifty miles that day.
Needless to say the Fordson was the lead tractor (behind the host tractor showing us the way) as it was the oldest on the run at 67 years of age , (1946 vintage) it does a steady twelve miles per hour.

The weather kept fine with only a hint of rain as we started out but heavy coats  and hatswere essential, especial to those younger tractor drivers who ar pampered by cabs and cab heaters.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

How life sweeps on regardless (autumn 2013)

This is now my fifty third winter farming and have had a fair spread of all that the weather can do at you, be it summer or winter. We have been through four or five foot and mouth out breaks with all the restrictions and rules of confinement, unable to sell stock for months on end. The over stocking that that brings, the shortage of fodder and unable to turn out stock to out lying fields when spring eventually came.

Time and tide waits for no man, as the old saying goes, and life goes on, it’s only as you get older that you realize how quickly it is passing you by.

No sooner one harvest finishes and we’re into autumn with the ploughing and sowing of next years crops. The suckler cows that calved in spring have big strong calves following them, and back in calf for the following year’s crop.

The mornings are starting to be foggy and damp, the mushrooms in the meadows are starting to grow, the leaves on the trees just starting to loose their colour, and crab apples dropping into the grass.
The village church of St. Chads in the distance
dry winter fodder stored in the Hay Barn

Looking from the church gate across the village green
School on the left our farm house on right and the barn roof between

Only part of the main stack of winter forage in wrapped bales

Grazing in the orchard village school behind the hedge 

Aftermath grazing on the meadows  in October 

Big bales of hay all neatly stacked under the barn ready for winter and the silage bales in the yard beyond all in black shiny plastic.  The cattle are spread out onto the mow meadows grazing the aftermaths while the drier wintering fields are rested ready for the heavy trampling they will inevitably get later in the winter.

You can stop a clock but you cannot stop time, here are a few quotes on time,---

Tradition is what you resort to when you don’t have the time or money to do it right
Kurt Herbert Alder.

The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be.
Paul Valery  (1871 – 1945)

By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.
Charles Wadsworth

We learn something every day, and lots of times it’s that what we learned the day before was wrong.
Bill Vaughn

About the time we think we can make ends meet, somebody moves the ends.
Herbert Hoover  (1874 – 1964)

If we had no winter, spring would not be so pleasant: If we did not sometimes taste adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.
Anne Bradstreet  (1612 – 1672)

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

"Never set a man to do a job that you would'na do ya self" -- 18

I have now began to realize that a bit more thinking and a bit less doing, will give me a bit more time on this earth.
Take for instance , last week we had to have a TB test, the last test we had 2 months ago there was 4 reactors and they were sent for slaughter, which put our farm onto a sixty day test program until we have two or is it three clear tests.

The calves are all by our Hereford bull but the cows they're out of, are of different breeds hence the variety of colours.
And no these are not the ones that caused so much trouble when testing and loading

How many of you can relate to the stance/ posture of this calf, it is the same one as in the picture above, not one to trifle with at close quarters unless in a properly designed crush.

During that test two month ago, the cattle being tested included a group of sixteen month old "calves" still suckling off their mothers, they have never been handled except for tagging and de-horning and a previous test when they were quite small.   The cows had not been put in calf again (because of my imminent retirement from that block of land ) and the "calves" locally called stirks, or could also be called yearlings, however you want to describe them they were almost as big as their mothers , and delinquent, and off their heads when gathered into the corral. Talk about dangerous, my younger helpers would not let me into the cattle as escape was a matter of going over the top and quickly.
As I said four reacted and went for slaughter immediately, and after not too many minutes thinking the rest of that rough group were dispatched to market within the month. Loading the remainder did not go without incident, we had the lorry (wagon) driver trapped between a tractor and the corral wall, put there to give him an escape gap, problem was one beast decide to follow him and got wedged, it was not until I moved the tractor forwards that the animal  and the driver was freed and the driver fell to the floor. To my mind I thought it was to be a paramedic job air ambulance the lot, but as it happened he jumped to his feet as if nothing had happened.

I, like my father always told me, "never set a man to do a job that you would'na do ya self", and that is now getting impossible to live up to.

Back to the test we had last week for instance, I was in with the cows (they are quiet to handle) in the corral "feeding" them down the race (chute as you call it over the pond) I turned around and tripped over a brick-end and fell face down in the grass/mud. Things flash across ya mind very quickly on the decent to the horizontal position, then it takes a while to actual realize whats happened, being owd and not too agile, it impossible for me to just jump up. Two of my young and helpful helpers came across though the cows and dragged me to me feet to resume the job of sending cows down the race. Embarrassing to say the least, but it reiterated what they kept telling me ta keep out of the cattle, leave it to them.

All the while it on me mind of fathers saying  "never set a man to do a job that you would'na do ya self"

People forget how fast you did a job, but they remember how well you did it.
Howard Newton

Monday, 11 November 2013

Remembrance Day Service 10th November 2013

     Remembrance Sunday: The Queen, Elizabeth II leads the wreath laying during the Remembrance Day

There cannot be many Remembrance Day Services that I have missed watching on television at the Cenotaph in London, with all the solemnity and honor that goes with it to remember the fallen soldiers over the last century.
As the TV cameras pan around  during the ceremony and the march past, it always very noticeable, (that's if your looking) the stage at which the trees and leaves are at that line the street. This year the leaves were so green and fresh, more so than at any time in the last fifty years.
When we had our first  TV and that service was first televised, even though it was in black and white you could always see how many leaves were on the trees, when we had had a few early sharp frosts the trees would be almost naked of leaves, this was the first thing that Mother always noticed.

It was my old mother who always did the weather forecast for the whole family every day right up till she died, looking at the old barometer that hangs in the house, watching which way the smoke blew when she lit the fire, watching the clouds and listening to the six am news and weather program on the radio. She advised us when to sow in the spring when to mow for hay, when to cut the corn (in UK that's wheat barley and oats), a whole mine of information centered around the moon phases as well.

So far this back end we only had a slight hint of frost on the 9th November 2013, up until now, the grass has been growing and the ground still relatively warm, and the ditches are only now beginning to run, the little  rain we've had has now topped up the ground water.

Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage, can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.
Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)  

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Dialect spell checker, Didn’a Couldn’a Wouldn’a

    Sorry I have not posted so regular this last weeks or is it months, I have been a bit distracted in compiling some of my stories into a book, you could not believe how long it takes to proof read and then read again just to make sure when it goes into print, everything is how it should be.
Take for instance, its bad enough for me not being all that literate, and simple every day words that have two meanings do not show up on the spell checker, take coarse and course, I didna know which one to put in until it was pointed out to me by a learned friend of mine. Then of course/coarse there's me/my own dialect spellings, where if I write what I have on me mind, half the page would be underlined with spell checker lines.

So read what O'v writ if ya can, it's all "Queens English" in my part of the world, and as for putting phrases and paragraphs together I tend not to leave enough room for the reader (you) time to breathe, I was told at school some seventy years ago that a comer in a line of writing told you where to take a breath.

Didn’a Couldn’a Wouldn’a

Round here among, the country folk,
Words get shortened, as they’re spoke,
Didn’a and could’na and would’na and should’na,        
     didn’t,                   couldn’t,                    wouldn’t,                        shouldn’t
                        Dun’na know weer,  or how fur its spread ta.                       
   Do not,                    where,                            far                                to

                                    Appy ta try, tar rit it darn but,                                
   Happy to                  to    write it down but,
                            Looks like none, are in a dictionary arv got,                                   
                                                       iv’e      got
With inna and wunna, and conna om appy,           
          is-not,             would-not,                could-not , I’m happy,
                                                 But conna git aat ov, saying things snappy.                                    
          Out   of

                          Mustn’a and inn’a and occard, ov bosted my spell check,                                                                                                                                                               
     Mustn’t,                      isn’t ,              awkward     I’ve        broken
So modern are keyboards, with buttons on deck,
All of these words are of negative state,
Brought up with them, so change it is too late.

Owd Fred,