Tuesday, 15 July 2014

St Swithin's day 15th July

Well we had a fine dry and warm day today, St Swithins day, so if the old fable is right we can forty days of fine weather now. The following poem I wrote when we had a really wet St Swithins day.

St Swithin's day 15th July ( a year or two ago)

This is the old saying--

'St. Swithin's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mair.'

St Swithin's day it turned out wet, for forty days its rain,
Each day we watch the forecast, but alas it's all in vein,
Cloud and drizzle a little sun, each day it starts the same,
The next day it turns out fine, and gives you hope again.

Fifteenth July the decisive day, and forty more to come,
Whole phase of the moon and more before we get the sun,
Big depressions sweeping in, low cloud and mist it brings,
Broken cloud and sunny spells, muggy warm evenings.

The local show the village fete, a chance they have to take,
It just by luck rain holds off; bring folks through the gate,
Just one day a year it is, and just a few hours that day,
Six whole days since Sunday, when the vicar's was meant to pray.

Hay makings been put on hold, and the corn is getting rip
The grass matured and gone to seed, but who are we to gripe,
We take what comes from day to day, work along as befit,
Its frustrating all the waiting about, enough to make ya spit.

Owd Fred

This again I wrote some years ago when we had a very dry season, I think we had two months or more without rain

Up to now we haven't had a Drop (rain)

Well to be honest it did rain yesterday, a reet heavy down pour for a few minutes most of which ran off.

Me cows are out on grass, and the pastures burning up,
The brook is running low, soon be nothing left to sup,
They're roaming round the fields, n' pulling at the hedge,
Even eating at the rushes, and they're pulling at the sedge.

No grass to cut for aftermath, hasn't grown an inch,
And the corn is short and stunted, two tons an acre at a pinch,
Straw is short and brittle, come through combine just like dust,
Need a baler like a Hoover, suck it off the old earth’s crust.

Feed for winter not enough, and the bedding it's the same,
It's the climate that is changing, and the weather is to blame,
When the weather breaks at last, n' it won't know when to stop,
Flooding and the rain, up to now we haven't had a drop.

Owd Fred

Monday, 14 July 2014

The old Cow Chains

The old Cow Chains

Up until the 1960's almost all milking cows were tied up by the neck in stalls to milk and feed, the old stalls were made of oak and the floors usually of blue brick as were the mangers. When new dairy regulations became stricter, they demanded that the floors of the cowsheds and stalls had got to be concrete, also the wooden stalls removed and either concrete stalls or tubular metal stall put in place so they could be kept scrubbed and clean.

The wooded hasp in the picture below, is fastened to the end wall of the old cowshed, and the only one left and over looked by the diary inspectors, as you see by the cobwebs, this has not been used for fifty years or more. The chains when in every day use were bright as silver, and the shed walls were kept white washed with burnt lime,

This is a very old hasp for the cow chain to slide up and down on, its made of oak by the village wheelwright could easily  be hundred and fifty years old. The chain  itself has a large hoop that hooks around the hasp and the chain threaded through a ring then a couple more links of chain to a swivel. From there the chain divide into two, one end with a tee bar the other end has some round links for the tee to threaded through to fasten round the cows neck 

This is the same pattern of chain, but a later version of hasp made of metal bolted to the wall, made by the blacksmith, the hook end of the chain that slides up and down is a lot smaller diameter the bar being a lot thinner than the oak hasp above 

My father told us a tale about a relative, not a close  relative you understand, who, having bought another farm, proceeded to drive his cows and all his livestock some ten miles after early morning milking to the new farm. When moving farms the cow chains in them days went with the farmer and his cows and to the new farm. After some six hours walking the stock along county lanes and roads they arrived and proceeded to fit the cow chains to the stalls, only to find they would not fit the stalls.
You see where he moved from they had all metal stall hasps and all his cow chains had the small ring to slide up and down them, but at this new farm, he had over looked the fact that all those stalls had the thicker oak hasps as you see in the top picture. I did not know how the tale ended but I have no doubt that that evenings milking was very late.

Every cow in the village and wide around this district, cows were always tied up by the neck to be housed and milked, it was only when milking parlours and loose housing in bedded up yards came in that thing began to change. I might add the the deep bedded straw yards were in the arable areas where straw was very plentiful, but around our area that was not the case and deep bedding no an option.
 Then in the late 1950's cubicles were invented, where the cows chose to go into  individual stall just to lay down and were free to walk about the yard and feed troughs at their will. These were deep bedded with saw dust or wood shavings and used even less bedding than they were using in the old cowshed method.
By 1980 the last herd of cows to be tied up were dispersed in a retirement sale, all those left had gone over to cubicle and parlour milking. By this time the herds were getting bigger and eighty or ninety cow herds became common place, the farms were no longer restricted to the number of stalls with chains per cow, and almost any shed or barn, cubicles could be quickly set up to expand the herd.

1920's it was ten cows per man to milk by hand, 1940's it was twenty to twenty five cows per man to milk with a machine with cows still in stalls, 1980's it was forty five to fifty cows per man milked through a parlour, at the turn of the century it went to nearer ninety cows per man, and now 2014 there is a 400 cow herd next door and two men milking.
At one time some twenty or more years ago, a loaf of bread and a pint of milk cost the same in the shops, now bread is four time the price of milk, where is the justice in that.

Quotation --
Hope is the poor man's bread.          
 George Herbert (1593 - 1633)

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Wellies large and large wellies small

Now , what am I looking for.

Ya ware them in the rain, and ya ware them in the snow,
Ya ware them in the mud, and everywhere you go,
Ya keep them in the car, in case of floods you never know,
Ya can’t do without them, left behind it is a blow,

And what I’m looking for, my WELLIES high and low

Owd Fred

Ode to a Welly

My wellies your wellies and kids wellies too,
Clean wellies dirty wellies some there full of pooh,
New wellies old wellies some with holes right through,
Country wellies town wellies, a big long rubber shoe,
Shiny wellies dull wellies and coloured wellies new,
Chewed wellies torn wellies, on the bonfire threw,
Smelly wellies pongy wellies some we have out grew
Wellies we can’t do without, often must renew.

Owd Fred

Wellies large and large wellies small

Wellies large and large wellies small, of sizes there are many
Some are black some are green, and they cost a pretty penny,
Some are painted in bright colours, but still ya feet they smell,
Trample through the mud and ditches, through the house as well.

The kids they have them round the farm, they hold the water in,
Walking out through deep puddles, wet through to the skin,
How much water they will hold, and your feet an-all,
Tip them out on the door mat, make mother shout and bawl.

Owd Fred

Chips or should I say Fish and Chips (Fries)

Chips or should I say Fish and Chips (Fries) always used to be about the only take away food bought and taken home to eat in the UK. 
My first recollections (1945) of this first convenience food was of a mobile Fish and Chip shop that travelled around the countryside villages and would come one evening a week into our village, sounding his horn or claxton as he arrived near the houses.
There was always chip shops in town but out where we lived we did not always get the chance to travel into town to collect such a meal, and not only that when we got it back it would be going cold. For most folk it would mean a bike ride into town and eat ya chips on the hoof out side, it was the taking home bit for the family that did not work
The traveling Chip Shop would call at our farm house every week then continue on into the cluster  perhaps ten or fifteen houses and cottages, and calling at all outlying houses that had a regular order for him. 
On the road before he set off from us he would put another shovel full of coal onto his stove fire, and a trail of black smoke followed him up the road just like a small steam locomotive.
When I look back now, the elf and safety officers would nail him in an instant, but back then there was none, and driving about with five gallons of boiling fat in an almost open vat with a fire underneath seems a very dangerous occupation, to my knowledge he always stopped gently and no one ever forced him into a ditch.
This food was always served up in newspaper, with a bit of grease proof paper directly under the chips, other wise the printers ink would soak onto the chips, also if required there would be mushy peas, a good couple of spoonfuls along with salt and vinegar, which you could apply yourself. The peas would be in a big pot with boiling water underneath and cooked until the peas became a mush, almost like thick green custard, sommat ya could stand a spoon upright in without it falling over.  If you look at the following video, they serve up mushy peas.   

There is a spoof video about fish and chips depicting Yorkshire folk and in their broad Yorkshire dialect, I dunt know if folk futher afield from Yorkshire and the North Midlands would know what they are saying but this is it , its about airline food.

Come to think of it, the misses and I have never flown together, seems the Yorkshire Airlines are a good airline to go with. ???  Please advise us  !

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Father Cutting our Hair

I Remember father Cutting our Hair

It would be around the early 1940's when we started to go to the village school , at the beginning of every new term father would reach up into the top shelf of the old cupboard and get out his hand clippers and scissors, these scissors were kept just for hair cutting and hidden away so they would not  be used for cutting paper or anything else that would blunt there fine edge.

On his right hand father only had a thumb and the first two fingers and a stump of a finger, and it was with this hand that he worked the clippers and scissors to cut our hair. Those two fingers and the thumb did all the work and were much stronger than what you could imagine. 

Starting with the youngest one, who would be twisting his head and moving about, he would be very careful and go steady, but when it came to the forth and last one sometimes his patience would be wearing a bit thin, the clippers would be pushed up the back of ya neck faster than he was clipping and that would pull ya hair out by the root 

When using the scissors, he would start snapping the scissors at a tremendous rate (or so it seemed to us kids) in mi air, then run the comb up the the back of ya neck n over  ya yed, as if he were doing a practice run, then on the second run lower the scissors into work on top of the comb, working over the top and the all round the back, with hair flying all over the place.

Many folk likened it to his skills at thatching the corn ricks and shearing the sheep, swift and most of the time accurate, he would nick ya earole if ya dinna sit still.

Father Cutting our Hair

At the beginning of every, new school term,
Father said with long hair, no you’ll not learn,
So out with his scissors and comb and clipper,
And lifted us into the old high chair, start with the nipper.

Clippers are worked, by squeezing the handle,
And worked at a speed, more than an amble,
He oils them as if, he were clipping the sheep,
And expects us to sit there, without a peep

He started with clippers, on back of your neck,
And clipped up to where, the cap fitted by heck
Pushing them up faster, than he was clipping,
Pulled hair by the root, us howling and shouting.

When he had finished, around sides and ears,
Quake as the comb and scissors appear.
Combing it back, to make it stand up,
And do it again, as if to warm-up,

Gauging the length, one finger neeth comb,
Cut off all sticks through, all over your dome.
Stand back to see if, it’s even all round,
Snip to the lock that he missed, falls to ground.

No time for a cloth, round the shoulder or mirror,
Next one he lifts into chair, his turn to quiver,
Only five minuets it takes, as he sweats,
As with sheep, more you do, faster he gets.

The hair cut we had, when we now look back,
Was very much the same, as his corn stack ,
Thatched on the top, trimmed up the side,
Old habits’ never die, he does it with pride.

Owd Fred