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

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