Monday, 26 May 2014
Norfolk Four Course Rotation (1950’s)
At farming college we were told, how important it was to learn,
The basic four coarse rotation, good yields and a living to earn,
Roots Barley Seeds and Wheat, it kept the ground in good heart,
This was the basic rotation, from which to make a good start.
Roots you hoed around until, the leaves met in the row,
Smother any smaller weeds, nowhere for them to grow,
Always left a good clean field, and always in good heart,
Next crop had the benefit, of getting a jolly good start.
Spring barley follows the roots, too strong a land and it will soon go flat,
Drilled in March when the soil warms, an even plant stand begat,
Under sown with grass and red clover, establishing the best
Docks were pulled and thistles ‘spudded’, first crop for to harvest.
The seeds grow on, once barley’s cut, light sheep graze back end,
It tillers and bulks tremendously, for winter feed depend,
Red clover with its vigorous growth, its roots beneath to match,
Fixes fertility down in the soil, from side to side of the patch.
If you graze the seeds and keep it low, doesn’t produce the roots,
Fertility from the sun to leaves, only small leaves stems and shoots,
Mown for hay grown to maturity, two years if you can,
Will give you a wheat crop you never had, at least that’s the plan.
When the hays been cleared, and a fresh good cover of green,
Plough it in, green manure, the clover roots have been,
To fix the Nitrogen in the nodules, best crop of wheat you’ve seen,
No sprays or artificial needed, to return to a proper rotation I’m keen.
Organically speaking, this is the way, make the sun and the leaves,
Draw the goodness naturally; a shower of rain receives,
Plants are working how they ought to, compliment each other,
A good plant stand, and big broad leaves, weeds you hope to smother.
Saturday, 24 May 2014
Don't know whether anyone remembers what whitewash was/is, its burnt lime mixed with water in a bucket or tub the brushed onto the cowshed walls. It dries very white, and very often also used on the ceilings in the house. After the coating of lime had been refreshed a couple of times a year for the previous forty or fifty years there builds up a thickness of lime and this eventually becomes brittle.
When us kids started jumping about in our bedroom above the kitchen, flakes of whitewash would fall onto fathers head and into his paper as he was resting and reading after a long day’s work. This he did not appreciate.
Father Used His Slipper
Father always used his slipper, when we were being naughty,
But we were quick and dodged about, for he was over forty,
He chased upstairs into our room, he thought he’d got us now,
We dived under both the beds, to reach us he dint know how.
Looking back he never hurt us, he slapped his slipper on the floor,
The noise and shouting gave us speed, that we never had before,
Old farmhouse two lots of stairs, up one set and down the other,
Dad soon got out of puff; and shouted for our mother.
A couple of smacks across the bum, and on he put his slipper,
And told us off when we did wrong, but never was he bitter,
Respect was what he taught us, and elders must not cheek,
Listen to what you’re being told, with P’s and Q’s must speak.
Pillow fights at bed time, when we should be fast asleep,
Jumping high up to the ceiling, were not counting sheep,
Our room was buv the kitchen, and noise he couldn’t stand,
Heard him rushing up the stairs, for piece and quite demand.
When he came in, were in bed, feathers floating round the light,
Pretending were asleep, bulb still swinging from the fight,
Settle down we had to now, if he came up a second time,
We’d all be in trouble, twas the stairs that he had to climb.
He had done a hard days work, and had settled in his chair,
And running up the stairs at night, enough to make him swear,
Slipper slapping on the treads, we knew what he had got,
So fast asleep pretend to be, looked like he’d lost the plot.
Thursday, 22 May 2014
You get up in a mornings and have a good think, not so much of what yuv got to do today or at any time in the future, but back in life on what you could have done if ya ad ya life over again.
Life’s 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 to turn the year, new start for New Year,
Spring and summer, showers and the sun appear,
Autumn fruits and berries, winter for the birds to eat,
Repeat with little change, life’s time clock cannot beat.
Wednesday, 21 May 2014
It may seem to most folk a simple thing to do to count a herd of cattle or a flock of sheep, but quite often you don’t get a second chance to re-count at that time or in that place. If you miss count and your one down or perhaps gain one, and think they are alright you clear off to your next job thinking they are all okay, when that one you mis-counted might be stuck in a peaty ditch or in trouble away from the main group of animals, and left overnight could be found dead by morning.
With sheep, counting them as they leave a fold, they will run out at high speed, so a narrow gap wide enough for two sheep to get through is usually about right, any narrower and two will wedge in the gap and block the flow of sheep. It was an old practice to count the sheep by the score, (in twenties), if you look at that counting up to twenty, they are all one syllable words, into the twenties and beyond they are two syllable which does not make for fast counting.
So count up to twenty and drop a pebble into ya pocket, or if you have less than two hundred sheep you just curl one finger up for every twenty you've counted. That’s okay as long as no one or nothing distracts you when you grab or need to prevent a hurdle from falling and you cannot remember how many fingers you had curled up. Pebble in the pocket was a surer way of recording how many score of sheep you have, and can go beyond how many fingers you own.
Cattle I find easier to count from slightly higher vantage point when they’re spread out grazing, I take the view of the group like the top half of the face of a clock, and bring the imaginary finger round the clock counting all whom it passes over, then do a check count going the opposite way across them to get the same count again. This way of counting is okay when you have cattle all of the same age and size, the problem come when the suckler cows have calved and young calves are wandering about around and behind their mothers. It’s best to establish that all the cows are there, then go round and count all the calves in a separate count, check counting each time, it just reassuring when you get both counts the same.
When one is missing for some reason or other, you count and recount just hoping that the count will come right, then begin the search for who is missing, most of the older characters of the herd would be missed and know who you’re looking for. Some of the younger ones, all of whom would no doubt have the same father/sire may all be the same or similar markings and out of a group of fifty or more its near impossible to know which one is missing.
Cows that are calving will go off on their own, and very young new born calves will get their first belly full of milk and find a bog of rushes or a bog of nettles or even duck under the wood fence and lay down and hide in the under growth, as nature tells them to at that age.
Very often the only way of finding them, is to find the mother who when alerted will raise her head looking in the direction of where she knows the calf is, very rarely will she walk and take you to it.
|This was our leader (a good leader) for almost ten years.|
So counting is not just for fun, it’s a serious matter to know if one is missing, if they get out through the broken fence it more often than not be a number missing, if you have a bad leader of the herd (If she gets in the habit of getting out) the lot will have gone. Keep the leader happy and contented and the herd will be happy. As with people, they are all individuals, all have their own characteristics and mannerism, and you can almost read their minds as well.
Tuesday, 20 May 2014
I winter most of us wear a hat, or sommat ta keep ya ed warm, but with mother doing most of her work in the house, and all of the 'work' hats already out and in used (by us), mother grabbed the tea cosy off the tea pot and pulled that well down over her ears.
It was knitted from thick unravelled wool, which was curly from it previous job as a jumper, the jumpers always wore out up the front and the sleeves, but the back was always knit (by her) in a separate panel and she could salvage a good couple of big balls of wool to knit again into scarves of gloves, in this case a tea cosy.
Mothers Tea Cosy
Mother had a tea cosy, to keep the tea pot warm,
Used it for other things, that’s not quite the norm,
It was all home knit, out of thick unravelled wool,
From warn out jumper unpicked, so curly was the wool.
On cold days she would ware it, outside in a storm,
Already warm and hot, from keeping tea pot warm,
Feeding hens or getting coal in, always pulled it on,
Hair stuck out the holes, where handle n spout were from.
Monday, 19 May 2014
Before televisions came in, the dark nights would be taken up by some craft or other, one of which was making peg rugs out of old material, be it curtains clothes blankets or anything of any colour. It was cut into long one to two inch strips and then into four inch lengths, the bodged into the hession. Mother had plenty of pairs of scissors, one for each of us.
I Remember Mother’s Peg Rug
I remember mother, when she used to make peg rugs,
There to put your feet on, while drinking ovaltine out of mugs,
As kids it kept us off brick floor, just before our bedtime,
Feet all nice and cosy, till up the stairs we climb.
She started with piece of Hessian, the size of rug she wants
Often it’s a big old bag, a thick one found on her farm jaunts,
Next she digs out all old cloths, of all the colours to find,
With these can make a pattern, with boarder and centre outlined.
Cut them up all into strips, and then to four inch long,
Father always helped with this, to groups of colour they belong,
With the bodger they got started, three rows round the side,
All of us we had a go, centre marked shape of pattern applied.
As it got near to the finish, essential colour runs short,
Up stairs into the wardrobe, through the cloths she’d sort,
To find a matching colour, someone’s shirt or tie submits,
Finished now and backing complete, and sweeping up the bits.
Sunday, 18 May 2014
Ya may know what lads look like when they've been playing/working around the farm all day, then come in and only wash what they can see in the mirror, well mother was always on hand for the inspection before bedtime, the phrase was, "go and get a neck and earole"
Neck and Earhole Wash
Mother always told us, to wash behind our ears,
Neck and earhole what she called it, in our early years,
This is where she always looked, for grime not yet reached,
It’ll end up on the pillow that is why she always preached.
At the sink with bar of carbolic, soap to those don’t know,
Lather on your hands and flannel, sleeves rolled to the elbow,
Watched that we made good job of it, never did she miss,
Must admit it felt so fresh, we went to sleep in bliss.
Saturday, 17 May 2014
The war time food rationing, petrol rationing, the blackouts, the clocks were moved two hour for summer time for a while, I remember the poultry and laying hens out in field pens would not go to roost to be shut in until nearly mid night sometimes.
The things we never had (In the Forties Fifties)
On looking back on how we lived and the thing we ate,
Every day of every week, had plenty on our plate,
Rabbit Chicken beef and pork, taters carrots and beans,
All caught and grown and dug and cooked as well as all the greens.
No such thing as cooking oil, that’s to oil ya bike,
Lard was what we cooked in, for everything we liked,
Bread and dripping, fried the bread, floating in the fat,
From cooking all the bacon, in the frying pan it spat.
No such thing as frozen food, and a fridge we never had,
Only had a meat safe, way back when I were a lad,
There to keep the flies at bay, the meat from day before,
Eat it up before it turns, good food they won’t ignore.
Orange squash and lemon squash, with plenty water drink,
Never had the fizzy stuff, till Corona Pop to village shop they linked,
Bottles had to be returned, so we looked after them,
Money back for every bottle, from that our savings stem.
A phone box in the village, and the farms they one for each
A wireless in the widow, for the wartime news to reach,
All around the countryside, the news it travelled fast,
Nowadays its picture phones, I feel I’ve been outclassed.
Be careful with ya money, that’s what our parents preached,
Don’t waste anything you worked for, as out ya pocket leached,
By all and sundry they will ask, lend us this and that,
It’ll come back bent and worn-out, chipped or even cracked.
But overall we had everything, that life for us we need,
We never had to do without, cuz our parents set the creed,
Life’s only what you make of it, work to earn ya crust of bread,
And anything on top of that, helps smooth the path ahead.
Thursday, 15 May 2014
This was looking back on how we learned to not poke ya fingers where they don't belong. SNAP
Mother had a Mouse Trap
Mother had a mouse trap, to catch the pesky mice,
She always used to bate it, with anything but rice,
The rind of cheese old and smelly for them to entice,
Never failed always worked, from her you got advice.
The trap all set on pantry shelf, a dangerous devise,
Us kids to touch and set it off, never did it twice,
Catch ya finger in the trap, the result it isn’t nice,
We’re learning from experience, with danger do not dice.
Mother would never kill off a laying hen just to have sommat to eat for dinner, it had to be one with a pale wattle or a chalky back side, one that did not have a long life expectancy.
Mothers Mid Week Chicken Dinner
In mid week we often had, “chicken” for our dinner,
Tough old hen more soup than meat, always it was a winner,
So after breakfast mother went, to feed the laying hens,
On her way she would note, the one who’s still in pens,
If it looked as if not laying, she would ring its neck,
Hang it in the coal shed, all flap and no more peck.
Pulling on the old tea cosy, well down over her ears,
And an old mac kept for this job, doesn’t matter how it appears.
Feathers and the fluff do fly, and also mites do run,
This is why she’s well covered up, as it is so often done,
With the news paper on the table, to be drawn it is now ready,
And out with good sharp knife, off with legs and neck all bloody
Nick below the parson’s nose, with hand the guts she pulls the lot,
Saves the heart and gizzard, also neck to make the stock,
Into the pot this tough old hen, no time for it to go cold,
Steamed for a good two hours, till lid is hot to hold.
Into the pot goes all the veg, and a heap of part boiled taties,
Given another half hour simmering, before it hits the platters,
We all come in for dinner time, lunch to someone posh,
Plates piled up, our bellies to fill, we loved our chicken nosh.
Wednesday, 14 May 2014
These Little Creatures Burrow
These little creatures burrow, and dig endlessly all day,
In total darkness all their lives, don’t have time to play,
Every here and there they push, mound of soil up top,
In the most annoying places, n’ nout to make them stop.
Their coat is fine and silky, and it brushes either way,
Because in tiny tunnels, shunt backward with no delay,
In good rich soil finding earth worms, catch them unaware,
To feed his busy little body, with no one will he share.
His feet are as little spades, to dig a longer tunnel,
And with his back feet shove the soil, up a little funnel,
This is when you see soil move, pushed up from below,
A mole is what I’m looking for, just to say hello.
What Turns more Earth
Ever thought of what turns more earth, than any other means,
Draw down the compost in the ground, to disappear it seams,
Aerate the ground, leave drainage holes, do a power of good,
Improve the land beyond compare, appreciate them we should.
Can never see them while they’re at work, working in the dark,
Break down humus in the soil, so plant roots can embark,
On growing strong and well fed, from the fertility they bring,
Its earth worms that I’m on about, their praises we must sing.
Worms in the garden
Worms in the garden, and worms in the fields,
Eat all the rotted vegetation, improve all the yields,
Drawn down into the earth, a worm hole there to leave,
Pushing up the worm casts, a little pile of soil is heaved.
Repeated over a garden, or over acres in the grass,
Drawing down the cow pats, does it quietly without harass,
Moving in its little way, tons and tons of soil,
Millions of them working hard, their little bit of toil.
Sunday, 11 May 2014
Sometime you look back at how hard you have worked throughout your life, but then you think back a how your own parents worked bringing up a big family, feeding and clothing them at minimum expense during and after world war two. The only ‘fast food’ we knew of or remembered, was a traveling fish and chip shop that came through the village one evening per week, and that was coal fired. (He certainly would never be keen to do an emergency stop)
Mother Always Worked So Hard (1945)
Mother always worked so hard, to rear her brood of kids,
As we grew bigger and in our teens, we must have cost her quids,
Four of us lads and our dad, Uncle Jack as well,
Looked after all of us, knitting socks and jumpers she excelled.
Big appetites we had, and thrifty she had to be,
Most things grown about the farm, including all the poultry.
Eggs and chicken, more often old hen, regular we had,
Potatoes beans and cabbage carrots, all grown by our dad,
Rabbit pie most every week, killed a pig and cured,
Only thing she did buy, big lump of beef well matured.
Bottled all the fruit she could, and salted down the beans,
Got the meals and baked the cakes, did washing in between,
Baker came three times a week, six loaves every call,
Corn flakes she also brought, lot of boxes I recall,
Through the war and rationing, never seemed go short,
Well fed, we all worked hard, and not much time cavort.
Saturday, 3 May 2014
Next year there will only be one farm left in the village
Who would like to be a farmer?
Who would like to be a farmer?
You've got to love the country, you've got to love the land,
Got to put the time in, and to anyone lend a hand,
It’s a lonely job at times, work for hours out in the fields,
To grow the grass and rear the stock, and aim for better yields.
Early morning milking’s, and all day to growing crops,
A long day mending fences, the work it never stops,
The working week 40 hours, done that by Tuesday night,
Every week and every month, end of the year in sight.
You stop to help an injured bird, binding up it wing,
Or tend a birth of calves and lambs, new life the world to bring,
Day and night you’re on call, to help all those in need,
To all the folk and stock give life, on this we set our creed.