Saturday, 28 December 2013

A Good Old Way of Life

Yes I am going to miss my old way of life, but age holds the key, and there are now a lot of things that I am not any longer able to do, like running, or riding a bike (the owd knees are no longer flexible enough). Some things I can still do but others tell me I am not safe doing it, the main one being, driving on the motorway, or sorting cattle at close quarters, or going off down the fields for a half day (on the tractor) without my phone. If I go down or fall down is more likely I have great difficulty getting back up, mainly because the new knee joints I had fitted twelve years ago, they will only bend to 45 degrees and the muscles in me legs and arms and hands are not as strong as they used to be.
Thank goodness I still have all me marbles, well I think I have, others may have a different opinion, but  this last twelve months I had an almighty panic to get all my blogs into print. I felt that if others could see I was slipping a bit in the direction, (of loosing me marbles), of which I an not aware, I had better get a shift on. 
So now this last few months my blogs are now nearly all in print in my book called "The Longest Furrow" in four volumes, a fifth is on the way and will contain the blogs written more. They can be purchased or just looked at here

I think I have already mentioned in an earlier blog about the house we will be moving to, comparing the size of bathrooms as the present one as a fifteen seater bathroom, and where were moving to as a one seater bathroom I do exaggerate a tad, but you get the drift.  It will have closer fitting doors and windows, no drafts, central heating with a fuel oil tank not much bigger than that on a decent sized combine. Of course that same fuel has got to keep my old Fordson E27N in fuel as well, it run on TVO (tractor vaporizing oil ) but now the nearest thing is the house heating oil. That tractor is only used at ploughing matches and the occasional tractor road run.
So yes things will have to change, I will not miss going out to feed cattle on a cold and wet wintry morning, but I will miss turning hay in the summer and other jobs done from the tractor seat, I have no doubt I have some neighbours  who would want the odd hours help, but whether my advise would carry any weight is another matter.  Yes in anticipation, I think I could get used to it eventually, and continue writing these blogs, marbles allowing.

A Good Old Way of Life

There are the wise and the old, and the young who want to learn,
There’s the hard working not so olds, their fortunes try to earn,
Farming’s got a grip on them, they know no other way,
Come hail or rain or sunshine, it’s just another day,

From early in the morning, till after dark at night,
For crops and stock their caring, they are their delight.
Working hard day by day, in a green and pleasant land,
Don’t have time to stand and stare, have a good look around,

Take in the beauty of where they work, the fields the trees and lanes,
All the years of care and sweat, well out weighs the pains.
It’s just a good old way of life, their families there to rear,
Health and hope and happiness, the harvest brings good cheer.

Owd Fred

Friday, 27 December 2013

I’ve got a Little Breakdown,

Even though I have all but retired, there always seems to be something standing by in my workshop waiting to be repaired or modified.

Right now its the cattle crush, in one of the locations where its used it has to be maneuvered into position with the lifting tractor lifting it from the end. The lifting loops cater for lifting it from the side, both sides, and I wanted a lifting loop from one end, initially we used a short piece of chain for this job, but found it a nuisance when on my own changing from one side to the end.
So I found a piece of round steel and bent it "bucket handle" style and welded it to some angle iron that fitted to the upper frame of the crush, this stays up and prominent and you just fish the front fork of the tractor to hook onto it without having ta leave the tractor seat. 
Well, this loop broke the last time we used it, the steel I had used was from an old iron railing, it must have been hundreds of years old and had found its way into my scrap ruck, as thing do, if ya know what I mean.
It was of very poor low quality steel, and fabricated into iron fencing, the sort used around the school next door, and this school fencing was all fetched down when the school (next door) was modernized. 
Don't know how old the school is, may be hundred and fifty years or so, so this bit of steel broke, ya could see the grain in the cross section that it was not as sound as the modern stuff of today. Result is, its back in the scrap ruck.
I have now found a newer suitable loop of metal to weld back on, so that's the next job after the Christmas break. 
If it can be repaired by a blacksmith, the chances are that I can do it, big ommer and nails mon, that's me. Electric's and anything electrical is a big no no, apart from the surface wiring of an extension to a light in the workshop or a three pin socket, basic stuff like that.  A three way switch, and electric motors I leave them to the bloke who know about such stuff.

This describes my workshop down to a tee. 

I've got a Little Breakdown,

I’ve got a little breakdown and its needs attention now,
Take it to the workshop, to bodge it up somehow,
Need to clear the work bench, with scrap its piled high,
Things that needed mending, I failed but had a try.

Spanners come in sets, they’re spread all round about,
The very one your wanting, one you conner do without,
Spend all morning searching, and you end up with a wrench,
Round the corner off the nut, then find its on the bench.

The metals rusty, flaking off, got it to weld somehow,
Clean the edge and got some gaps, must be done right now,
Spitter spatter stop and start, resembles pigeon siht,
Grind it off and fill the holes, and hope it wunna split.

Drill bits with the edge knocked off, the saw it that hit a nail,
Hammer’s got a headache, and it needs a brand new stale,
Screwdriver hit with hammer, when the chisel conna find,
And the spirit level lost a bubble, ta guess work I’m resigned.

Have a dam good clear up, and throw the rubbish out,
Then look for where you’ve chucked it, that little bit of spout,
Ventualy it all comes back, n’ builds up on the floor,
Praps a bigger workshop, cus I conna shut the door.

I’m really tidy in my mind, but sometimes I forget,
When I’m in a hurry, and black clouds and rain a threat,
Job is done, tools chucked in, the workshop miss the bench,
It happens all the while, but I stick with a big old wrench.

Owd Fred

A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools.

Spanish proverb.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Happy Christmas to all who read this (2013)

Ya should see him now he's got a good sun tan and sweating cobs in the oven, this will be our last Christmas at the farm, and thought I would take a few pictures to share with you. We have always lived in one farm house or another, and it will be a shock to our systems to move to a "normal house".

Like I have said before the bathrooms I have been used to, (this is how we judge the size of big houses) you could if seated , sit fifteen folks, the house were moving to has seating for only ONE, and they call that a normal house, OH how will we cope.
I thought I'd give the turkey a good send off , da ya think it looks happy and comfortable, it spent its last few hours in the sauna and in control of the television

Its now 11am on Christmas morning 2013 and I have been forces to open the oven door a touch to ease the heat on the recumbent who is now getting what I would call hot. You see its an old coal or log fired Rayburn, and its well revved up, there's no knob to turn it down, so the oven door is left ajar.

Next job to do, after its rested for an hour, will be to sharpen up the owd carving knife, 

Anyone for Lunch.

Happy Christmas Owd Fred and the Misses 

Monday, 23 December 2013

Mend make do makeshift.

Money had been very tight for my parents in their early days in farming, and they knew how to run a tight ship, nothing was ever spent if it did not need to be spent. When new ideas and inventions came out, they would shy away from it for as long as ten years, until it had been tried and tested and proven. The drum mowers came out and we persuaded him pretty quickly to get up to date on that one, and a baler was soon taken up as well, but it did take some to get him to agree that that's the way to go.

This was my father before he got his Standard Fordson tractor

There had always got to be a guaranteed return, and this habit never left them in all the years of their life, whether it be the first fertilizers ever purchased onto the farm (nitro-chalk, basic slag, Humber fish muck) or whether it be knitting wool for knitting all our socks gloves and jumpers, which eventually became working garments and were darned and repaired many times before they were too holey to repair.
Thrift was the by word then, and we seem to have lost that word from the modern day vocabulary, it's become a throwaway society now, nothing is repaired, if it don't work chuck it, and get a new one.

Mend make do makeshift.

Nothing wasted nothing chucked, all make do and mend,
Thrift is what they called it, right up to the end,
Never lost the habit, brought up all me life,
To repair and keep it working saves a lot of strife.

Father hit some hard times, and came through not too bad,
Looked after all of what he’d got, through happy times and sad,
Money tight and barter things, that’s the way to go,
Coal exchanged fa half a pig, a railway engine drive know.

Bodge it up and weld it, or a big hammer and nails repair,
It'll last anther couple a years, father had the flare,
It's not allowed to ware out, till new idea is born,
Combine buggered the binder, n bright new paint adorn.

Move with the times, that's what were told, latest ideas must get,
But tell the old man, he's going deaf, you'll get ya sen into debt,
Tried and tested it must be, new ideas are no fa us,
Let someone else tek the risk, and save us all the fuss. 

Owd Fred

A saying that father had was --- "Ware the old buggers out fost", but then when we came along it was "Flog the young"

Friday, 20 December 2013

Put it down to experience

I know it looks like I'm an old moana, but it is a bit disappointing to realize you cannot do what you used to do only a few years ago. Put it down to experience, well this experience is not going to get any better with time, in fact it can only get woss. 

Lifes Time Clock You Cannot Beat

You wonder where the time, and all the years have gone,
They pass so quickly now, going one by one,
Season’s sequence come in turn, no control have we,
Wind and rain and sunshine, day and night decree.

Snow and frost in winter, new start for New Year,
Spring and summer showers, and then the sun appear,
Autumn fruits and berries, for the birds to eat,
Repeat with little change, life’s time clock cannot beat.

Owd Fred

Suppose it gives you more time to look back on the things you wished you had done, and just had not the time to do, at one time you would start something and rush head long into it hell for leather, but right now the only thing I can get stuck into is writing, and that's slow, which is probably just as well as me thinkin is just about the same speed.

We are lucky in UK in that we do not get the extremes of weather like we hear of in many other parts of the world, as its weather that controls most of what we do as farmers. My old mother used to "do" the weather for us all of her life, I wrote this story about it a years or so ago

Father, he was a truly handy man, there were not many jobs that he would not tackle, and when he did a job it was made to last, strong smart and professional lookin, the only thing that he was absolute rubbish at was welding.  He bought an oxy acetylene gas welder with the pipes gauges and bottles, it was before the electric welders got popular, he had seen the blacksmith welding and decided to buy a set and try for himself. It looked easy, but there is a fine balance to be struck between heat and cookin holes into the metal ya trying to weld, and applying the rod metal at the right time to produce an even weld. He had had no tuition and did not weld often enough to become proficient so, he did not improve with age.
Wood work was his favorite pastime in retirement, and in his garage/workshop he gathered any old useful timber he could find about and stored it in the roof members of his garage plus some more back at the farm. The oak was always the "heart of oak" he said the wood worm eventually get into the sap wood which is softer, ash and yew was also gathered as and when he came across it.
This is the clock he made for me. 
Never had to use a walking stick
 up to now, but i Got plenty 
standing by
From this timber he made four grandfather clocks, one for each of us four lads, four kitchen tables, a large welsh dresser, stools, wooden farmyards for the kids and also got into wood turning. These were made over twenty years of retirement, towards the end we had to stop him using his circular saw and a planing machine as he was getting to unsteady on his feet. 
But he did enjoy his retirement, the only thing was he did worry if anything went wrong on any of the farms that we lads were working at. He always told us that we had got to learn from our own mistakes , though he could not help trying to guide us from making them in the first place. I have no doubt that he had had his fair share over his lifetime farming.        

I remember Fathers Plumbing

In the house at the Beeches, when we first moved in,
No hot tap for water, only a cold tap from the tank within,
This was pumped up from the well, that’s also in the house,
Opening a valve on pipe, sent water for cattle’s thirst to douse.

First thing he did was fit back boiler, to the kitchen range,
With pair of pipes flow and return, to cylinder exchange,
The pipes they were of one inch, galvanised iron pipe,
Threaded to make the joints, fittings screwed up tight.

Under floor boards to the bathroom, to the cylinder,
Pipes to bath and basin, this it made him ponder,
Also to the back kitchen, where we washed our hands,
And mother did the washing up, at deep sink where she stands.

Fired up and tested with water getting hot,
Lasted years and years till pipes with lime scale blocked,
Eventually replaced with copper, and new oil boiler applied,
Big enough to take some rad’s, old house inside it dried.

Owd Fred

Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Merry Christmas ( Christmas card to all who read this all around the world)

Merry Christmas

The lights are up, turkey bought, and the cards are coming in,
Holly round the mantle shelf, decorations hung within,
For all the children presents now, dunt know where to start,
Buying now on line you can, money from ya card impart,

Each passing year they got older, laptop n’ all gizmos’ need,
Computer games and telephones, with built in camera plead,
Be glad now when its come and gone, good food good cheer n all,
Its just another day in life, as out of bed I crawl,

Stock to look and count and feed, all me life the same,
Exiting for the kids so young, for me excitements’ getting tame,
So its from the misses and me, to all around the world,
Wishing you Happy Christmas, and Happy New Year unfurled.

Owd Fred & Eileen

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Thinking back, school dinners, teeth and choppers

After sitting quietly for half an hour, thinking back over the years of how things have evolved and change just in my life time. Sitting here typing this blog on a computer would not have been thought of (by me) just a few years back, and being able to send stories and tales around the world on the "nett" its beyond belief.

I look back on how mother coped with all the work in the farm house with all six of us to sit down for every meal every day, I know we did start school meals when they were first came in,  25 pence a  five day week , that's 10p in new money (UK) for the week.

Our house and farm in the village, on the left is the village school, we are looking
 across the village green and on the right used to be Green Farm.

And no we have not had any snow yet this is an older photograph

The meat for all the school meals in our county was purchased by the Fatstock Marketing board, who tendered the lowest price for the job. And the man who went round the farms working for them was an uncle of ours, (this is how we knew) he was looking at and purchasing all the old worn out or spent out old breeding bulls for miles around, that was how they kept the price so low. You had to have good teeth ta chew that meat.
N' talking about teeth, every now and then at school they had a "knitt nurse" call to see who had got lice in their hair and also a dentist called and plonked a dentists chair in the middle of the main hall, the kids would all line up outside the door and in turn go and sit in that chair. Some kids had front teeth missing, some had rotten teeth and the teeth they did pull we mainly "milk teeth" so not too hard a job.
 My teeth were okay, nowt wrong with then, the next time I went into a dentists chair was over fifty years later when I had to have two new replacement knee joints, the surgeon said I had got to go and see if I had got a rotten tooth, as a rotten tooth could make the metal in me knee reject, and if it rejected I would loose my leg.
All tough talking made me find a dentist, the dentist found nowt wrong with me teeth and asked how often have you cleaned ya teeth. Never in me life have I had a tooth brush, and now I go for a checkup at the dentist every six months, so I do clean them now twice a year just before going to see them.

  Me teef  are looking better

Me teef  are looking better , and I brush them every day,
New electric toof brush, and some paste that looks like clay,
Me misses getting onto me, n’ the dentist gives a hint,
Break a habit of a lifetime, to brush me teef I dint.

Mornings are so busy, after breakfast rush right out,
Then think I anna brushed me teef, n’ rules I mustna flout,
But then I conna turn right round, cattle got to feed,
N’ I’ll do in the morning, n’ I’ll brush them till they bleed.

Conna see the point of it, once a week enough fa me,
Twice a year is what om used to, n’ the dentists got the key,
To count them every visit, and to scrape then there’s no need,
Cuz  I eat an apple every day, and my mum she (set that creed,)  (did breast feed.)

Please don’t put the pressure on, om not feelin very well,
The verbal and advice okay, but too much I will rebel,
So to the dentist I have a message, count me teef and clean,
N’ chat about the weather, n’ what ever else in-between.

Owd Fred

A teacher in the "big school" in town, who you could never for get, was the wood work teacher, we all called him Bulldog Lees and he had got a real bad temper, and very little patience, particularly with anyone who was not very practical. I describe him here in a poem best 

 We Had a Woodwork Teacher  (1950 ish)

We had a woodwork teacher, we called him Bulldog Leese,
Had stern face and bad temper, no one dare to tease,
If he could not get class attention, throw a chisel hard,
Hit the back wall cupboard, like a dagger stuck and jarred.

All the class it stood and quivered dare not cross his path,
The respect was thrust upon you, dare not stir his wrath,
No one liked his lessons, even those who could push a plane,
Perfection in this man and all his tools, but he was a bloody pain.

Owd Fred

Talking of tools father was very particular with any sharp tools he had and would not let us chop sticks with his bill hook, well not the one he did his hedge laying with, his axe and bill hook, his chisels and planes and saws were all put in slots on wracks nailed on the wall in front of his bench and that protected the blades.  Other tools were not so cosseted just being chucked onto the bench in a heap along with off cuts of metal and timber, he was always in a hurry when summat had got to be repaired. When he retired things were a lot different, he converted half of his garage into a workshop, and kept it very tidy, he always blamed us lads for making a mess in the workshop at the farm, I recon he may have had a point there. 

One only needs two tools in life; WD-40 to make things go, and Duct tape to make them stop.
G. Weilacher

Saturday, 14 December 2013

On this land we love the best

I can't help but look back on the on the last 70 years that I have lived in this village,  my farming years are now coming to an end and it time to hang me boots up. 

My furthest move was a mile and a half from Brook House Farm, to the Beeches Farm, then to Church Farm and finally to Yews Farm 
On the left of this picture is the Beeches Farm where we grew up as kids, this is a recent picture with the village houses on the right

I took the tenancy of my first farm, Church Farm, in 1960 and started with stalls for 30 milking cow, the main shed is in the right of this picture

Church Farm house and churn dairy on the left in the distance in the middle is the wheelwrights shop, the tractor on the right I still have and I drove it from new in 1956.  Ended up milking 70 cows the new cubicle shed is in the distance (below the wheelwrights shop)
The working end of Yews Farm moved a hundred yards up the road from Church Farm in 1983

We will only be moving a hundred yards west of the farm into a house where the village wheelwright lived, just out of this picture on the left.

On this land we love the best

We are watched from way up high, on how we treat our land,
This land that we are caring for, for generations stand,
To stand just where our fathers stood, see it through their eyes,
And how the fields and lanes have looked, neath the clear blue skies.

The misty foggy mornings, dew drops on all the leaves,
The sunrise on the meadows, the bird song in the trees,
Long shadows in the evening, as the sun sets in the west,
Trees and bushes in full bloom, on this land we love the best.

Owd Fred

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The escaped criminal (or that's what I thought)

The escaped criminal (or that's what I thought)
The third incident I encountered when coming home from town mid morning last week, and half way between town and the village is a lay-by, a bit of road that had been cut off when straightening the road.
In the lay-by in the distance was a parked mini car, an up to date fast one, and way in the distance coming from the village were three cars traveling at high speed. To my amazement they swooped into the lay-by
in close formation, the first one went past the parked mini and pulled up across the front of it, the second one, a marked police car pulled along side, and a third also a marked car boxed it in. All this would have taken about 30 seconds, and by the time I drove past the group the three policemen in full riot gear were out of the cars and leaning over the roof of their respective cars pointing guns at the driver of the mini car. He had a hood of his jacket well up over his head and face, so I could not see his face at all.

I would have offered them help or assistance, in whatever way I could, but with all the guns involved, I thought better of it and drove on home. However, a couple of hours later I went down and found the lay-by empty, so seeing as is one of my fields that adjoin that lay-by, very often things get chucked over the fence, and on a close inspection, I half expected to find a discarded gun or weapon. No weapon in the field, bit disappointing, and on close monitoring of the local news that night , nothing was mentioned about an incident in our area. Maybe a false alarm, or the bloke gave himself up without fuss, I will never know, but I just wish I carried my camera with me a bit more often, I could have been a reporter and sold me story to the highest bidding newspaper. All wishful thing.  

Monday, 9 December 2013

The escaped Water Buffalo's

The escaped Water Buffalo's

In the village there is a fairly large herd of water Buffalo, a hundred or more, and just after dark about twenty escaped through a gate onto the road around milking time and made their way up through the village center among the houses and among the home going commuter traffic. With black animals in the dark and on a corner a car and a buffalo met, the buffalo broke the car wind screen and dented the roof and bent a door pillar, in other words it wrote the car off.
 It was not long before they were all rounded up, but to anyone who is not familiar with Buffalo, they are reasonably placid, and if you encourage them with a stick too much, they will just lay down and not move, so patience and understanding is the byword when moving Buffalo.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Exciting times (Nov Dec 2013) The escaped bull, (not mine thank goodness)

For such a small village , it has been livened up by three separate incidents that do not happen around here very often.

The first story here

The escaped bull
The first incident was a young bull that has been running about this general area for over three weeks now, it apparently escaped with thee heifer of the same age, about 18 months to 2 years, and some eight or ten hours later they were cornered in with a large dairy herd and penned up when they went down for milking.
The heifers were loaded up but the bull lunged over a gate bending it down and escaped. it went back to the "host" dairy herd, and after a few more hours of hopping over fences and gates they failed to corner it and was left grazing with 350 dairy cows.
The following morning it had disappeared, presumably back to where it had come from. One week later it was spotted way back in a wood, where it had been hiding, it adjoined the field that it had been grazing in with the dairy herd, it must have found a bit of piece and quiet food (leaves) and water but was still very nervous about even being seem. The owner brought up some feed for it and could not muster enough helpers to attempt another roundup, so another week went by and he was finally encouraged to walk down to the building with the dairy cows again. This time into a newly made cubicle shed, needless to say he was jumping about in there and bent a number of cubicle stalls and escaped back to his wood.
During the third week arrangements were made for a slaughter house man to come and shoot the animal in the wood and take it off. But not being able to get the correct  paper work, and with TB restriction in place in our area, the slaughter house would not shift it. So now 22 days on its still living in the wood. A beast like that, that learns how to escape and jump and dodge, will never settle down in one field again, it will always escape, no matter what, so it will almost certainly have to be shot in the wood.
Will bring you up to date when that happens.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

It was Winston (The Bull)

  It was Winston (The Bull)

Have you ever been sitting having breakfast, when a bull looks into the kitchen window, well we did. It was Winston, our seven year old Hereford bull, it was June time and he had been on his own in a field behind the building for almost six months.
Way in the distance he can see other cattle and he was getting a bit restless, particularly after having a couple of months or more of good grass that has built up his body weight, until he is almost fighting fit.
So fit, that he managed to open his field gate and let himself into the stack yard, and gave the round hay bales a bit of a routing up on his way down to the back yard outside the house.

Just having the camera handy I took this picture of him through our kitchen window
just as he ambled across the lawn

He cross the path that leads from the wicket to the house door and into the corner, where he decides where to go next, giving me time to race out with the camera to take a few more picture.

He is reasonably quiet, and decides, this way,This was my vein attempt to persuade him to head back to his field, I was always of the belief that cattle not rushed about or driven will take the line of least resistance, usually uphill, even a strand of string will persuade them not to go through that way (more often than not).

But no, he decides to have a look through the kitchen window, and part the chairs under the porch where we sit and have a morning coffee break, then he paused for a minuet.
I thought at that point he was going to leave a message, as cattle invariably do, to mark his presence.

Then he moved on again without any prompting towards a narrow opening in the trellis, this he did by threading one horn through first then rolled his head and got the other through without smashing the opening, an opening that was stretched as the bulk of his body slowly went through.

Now fully emerged from the porch, you can see the straw on his shoulders where he had had a play with some bales on his way down.

Now between the bushes and chooses the narrowest pair to get through

This is the general area where Winston visited

And back across where we park the vehicles. Don’t know about you but I always look at what else is in a picture, particularly if it’s a farm yard.
First and most obvious is the land rover Discovery, then leaning up against the out buildings is a pair of corn drill wheels, it is what is left of the Massy Harris Combine drill that father had new almost sixty years ago, very up to date back then as the fertilizer was sown with the grain in one go.
It looks like a house broom had been hastily abandoned, and above the bull’s rump is the roof of the village school.

  A Calf New Born 
Its nice to go into the field, and find a calf new born,
They come along at any time, day or night or early morn,
Pains of birth alert the cow, find a nice quiet spot to lay,
Pushing hard till it appears, it’s over in a day.
 Within an hour it’s licked and polished, up and had some milk,
Then off to find a place to hide, its coat as smooth as silk,
A bog of nettles, stalky grass, or just some rushes in a tuft
Keep its head down have a sleep, predators its out bluffed.
With plenty milk and summer sun, it plays and grows as well,
Mother gets fed up with it, but knows it’s hers by smell,
At summer’s end it’s parted from, its mother needs a rest,
Life of growing, getting fat, for meat, correct you’ve guessed.
Owd Fred

 Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed.
Sir Winston Churchill