Sunday, 16 November 2014

To refurbish an old Ransomes plough--- Blog 23

Mr Wettern bought this Ransomes Hexatrac plough new fitted with six furrows.
Due to his heavy ground and the horse power available he reduced it to five furrows, the spare plough body got lost in the intervening years.

When more modern hydraulic ploughs came available, this plough became redundant and formed the foundations of a large scrap ruck, where it stayed for over forty years.

Mr Wettern advertised it in the Tractor & Machinery magazine August 2003 edition Vol 9, he took phone numbers down, of quite a few people who wanted to view it , but with it being still under a large scrap ruck, he had made a list of phone numbers.

When eventually the plough was uncovered, a month or so later he had mislaid his list, this is how I came to buy the plough over the phone  unseen. I rang him again.

Mr Wettern has always been keen to follow the progress of his plough, and I  have spoken to him on a regular basis.

The Ransomes Hexatrac five furrow plough the day it arrived at my place, I soaked all ceazed joints and bearing with diesel

I built a trailer especially for it, It has a three ramps for the wheels of channel iron so they will not slip off, and a flange along each side to keep it from slipping off in transport

I replace mole boards and all wearing metal and got all joints and bearing greased , bought and changed all 35 grease nipples then took it out to get used to setting it up and get all metal bright

Winter job painting it up

First plough match after doing a fair bit of ploughing at home

The finished plough

The matching outfit won best turnout a couple of times

First draw up the field and lined up for the second run

One of my better finishes,  they did not all turn out as good as this, just a matter of practice
I have taken the  outfit to many ploughing matches and working weekends, it has always created a lot of interest, particularly the plough.

It covers five foot of land each bout,  the plough stewards are now in the habit of allotting me a double end plot.

Against two furrow ploughs I didn't stand a chance as the in’s and out’s are a bit ragged, and the finish is not as trim as with the  wheeled tractors.

I did get a second in the Tern Valley ploughing match in the novice trailed class. On a couple of occasions the outfit won best turnout when it was newly painted.

This was how the outfit was transported out to plough matches on two purpose made trailers 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

My Old Ration Book from WW2 blog 28

 My Old Ration Book from WW2

I still have my old Ration book, mother who was in charge of all our ration books had saved it from when rationing finished in 1953-4 and returned it back to me a few years before she died.   
The Staples are going rusty, but its all complete as it was when rationing finished in 1953/1954

Coupons had to be cut out with a pair of scissors on the relevant page by the shop keeper, and he had a rubber stamp to say which shop you had been to.  In my book the top stamp was the butchers, all other headed items came from the Co-op.

The nearest thing to a super market back then was the local Co-op which always seemed to have the greatest range of goods on its shelves, and an assistant had to find and bring all items to the counter for you. Here the items were totted up with a pencil written on the wrapping paper used for your goods. The old tills flagged up the total that the assistant put in the till and when the cash draw sprang open with great haste it rang a bell, paper money went under over centred spring clasps and farthing’s, half pennies, pennies, thrupeny pieces, six penny pieces, shillings often called a bob, florins a two bob piece, and half-crowns worth thirty old pence, all went in separate compartments in the same draw, these were added up into pounds shillings and pence £. s. d.  No adding machines, no computers, just a pencil (not even ball point pens, they had not been invent back then) and paper.

 In the most part of rationing we were self-sufficient in bacon and frying fats, but beef and beef suet had to be bought in, eggs, we always had a lot of hens, and always had so called chicken for dinner at least once a week every week. In fact it would be old hen, you know there was always one or two out of a couple or three hundred, that looked a bit pale in the wattle and not laying, or got a chalky arse end, they were never allowed to die, mother could see the ones that just started looking that way then she would ‘neck’ them and in the pot without even going cold.  I dunt know how come the egg coupons had been removed from my book, but she was in control of all the ration books.
Shop keepers rubber stamp

Unused sweet coupons on the right hand page
 I can hardly remember having sweets as a kid, not that they were never bought, I never craved for sweets or chocolate, but I can recall a time in my very young days being encouraged, nay forced to eat a couple of squares of dark chocolate.
This put me off chocolate and sweets for life, it’s only in recent years (fifty years down the line) that I have become partial some now and then and quite enjoy the taste. The reason for the dark chocolate was, and we each had to have a square, was that it was for worms, we had worms, itchy bums, could not sit still, and like mothers do she up turned us to have a closer look to confirm her suspicions.
She went to the Boots chemists next time she was in town, (she went every Tuesday and Friday) and asked the pharmacy what to have to clear the problem up. It was a bar of dark chocolate all in a Chocolate wrapper as would any other chocolate, and that night before we went to bed, for a treat she gave each of us a square of this chocolate, one at a time, and without the others seeing the reactions of the first one. It was strong and dark, nothing like the milk chocolate we had been used to, and she had to make sure we chewed and swallowed it without spitting it back out.  The taste lingered in ya mouth what seemed ta be all night and that put me off chocolate for life. I suspect the remaining squares of chocolate would not be saved until Christmas and handed round to the relatives, or used up by the all-knowing adults of the house hold.

To the credit of that incident, I still have all my teeth, and only go to the dentist for them to be counted and polished every six months or so, and that is because when I had two new knee replacement’s the surgeon instructed me to get my teeth checked before the operation, as a rotten tooth could make the replacement knee joint to reject and in that way could lose my leg. 

It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.
Bertrand Russell (1875 - 1970)

Saturday, 1 November 2014

A very small cog in this world of ours blog 29

It’s amazing to realise after all these years what a very small cog we are in this world of ours. It’s only this last few years that we have had a computer and the World Wide Web, with all the information that it contains, and how you can speak to the other side of the world speaking face to face on the screen.
Kids brought up with all the technology have no problem getting the yeds round it, but as an oldun, it takes some time for it to all sink in.  Take re-setting the digital clocks about the house, including the one in the car and on the weather station and such like, all have a different sequence of pushing buttons and flashing numbers to be re-set with an OK button of one sort or another. Doing the job every day it would be okay, but only twice a year ya forget the sequence of buttons to press.
Back seventy odd years ago there was the wireless, and I mean wireless, although it did have a an aerial wire draped around the house to the shed down the garden, it was powered by a battery, a glass accumulator with two terminals on top and two loops with a short cord for carrying it when it had to be taken down the local filling station/ garage, to be re-charged. When the commentary of a big boxing match was to be broadcast, there would be a mad rush of everyone who needed the accumulator to be re-charged in readiness for that night. Then it progressed to a mains radio with its three buttons on the front and a dome speaker all built into a cabinet almost as big as a refrigerator.  

Then in the early 1950’s we had our first television, in black and white, with its screen rolling up and blinking until father got it tuned in properly, there was only the BBC to watch and that had a test card on in between the odd program they put on in about three periods of the day, one of which was a kids program at tea time, and the others were mainly news programs.

The early telephones were wired via telephone poles and strung across into the houses that needed a phone, the school the shop, the estate and most of the farms, the rest of the village folk had a public telephone kiosk. Some phone lines were party lines that were shared with another house in the village, they had the same number, and had to listen to the pattern of ring tone to know if it was intended for them, if the other person was nosey, they could pick up and listen in to your conversation. Back then they were all just a two digit numbers and you could call anyone in the village without an operator that was marvellous, to ring outside the village you had to ring the operator who would plug you into the number you required, and further afield you may go through a number of operators into the region you required. As more folk wanted a telephone so the numbers were up graded to three digits, then as the exchanges became automated we were six digit numbers, and on again to the familiar ten digit numbers only to be eclipsed by the up and coming mobile phones of which were the size of a house brick. 

I saw the first sugar beet harvesters come in, the first combines, the first round the cowshed milk pipe lines into churns in the dairy then eventually into bulk milk tanks, first bulk milk collections, the first cow cubicles invented 1960,  and first milking parlours. On tractors, the first with a cabs, just enough to shelter you from the weather, the first Land Rovers were immediately preceded by the American army Jeep, the Land Rovers were demonstrated ploughing harrowing sowing and with a power take off drive, sawing wood on a saw bench. Not many machines were PTO driven back then.  I saw the first drum/disc mowers that rapidly took over from the finger bar mowers, the Ferguson tractors were first with the hydraulic ploughs and implements to go with it, then all makes of tractor followed that same idea.

Father was well up to date when he was the first in the local area to have a milking machine, three unit buckets and a spare to change to when one was full, this was 1938. He had broken his arm, so he was a one handed milker, and the local farm merchant’s sales man came calling wanting someone in their area to buy a milking machine, to get the ball rolling, and that was what he did. They installed it and fitted an airline right through the cowsheds, and stayed for the first few milking’s to ensure it all worked at the right vacuum pressure, and soon got others around the local area to purchase one.

We were always brought up to be self-sufficient, in our farming, our repairs and improvements, in our replacement for the milking herd, in hay for the work horses and cows, though when tractors came along he had to buy the fuel. He always commented that when the tractors were resting in the shed, they were not burning/eating fuel like the horses always did, but then again the horses did not use fuel when they were working.

It was drilled into us that you cannot farm without common sense, look at thing how they are, not how you would like them to be, work with the weather it no use going against it and it impossible to get a good seed be when the ground is sad and cold and end up as it dries with large clods of soil that when they dry out are as solid as bricks 

   Educations What You Want

Educations what you want, or that is what I’m told,
Get on in life and see the world, seek your pot of gold.
More to life than toil and sweat, let others soil their hands,
Let education guide the way, nine till five, five days a week demand.

Over the years most folk done this, for better jobs they travelled,
Men they left the land in droves, off into town they pedalled.
With better money they bought a car, get about much quicker,
Then travelled even further afield, became the city slicker.

Owd Fred

This is the picture I woke up to first thing one morning, ya wouldna do that in the city 

This was taken of the cows and calves down the lane looking through the lower branches of a chestnut tree

So, no I did not leave the land and did not become a city slicker, I followed the family’s tradition of farming, and who knows where the next fifty years will take us with the ones who now have custardy of the land. Twenty cows were the norm in the 1930’s when father started farming and when he retired 1975 it was sixty, then for my generation in the 1990’s a hundred cows was a very large herd.
Now I have just retired 2014 three farms in the village have been amalgamated to form a new herd in two units of three hundred and fifty cows and four hundred and fifty cows all out wintered and all dry over Christmas to calve in February, also rearing all their own  replacements.
Almost would have been un-believable just a year or so ago, the same goes with the technology and gadgets such as sat nav’s on tractors that monitor seed and fertilizer according to the strength of the land to obtain the optimum yields.
I am way out of my depth and rapidly becoming out of date, it’s a younger mon’s job (below 60) and it still only works properly with common sense, and the most common sense thing fa me to have done is to retire, should have done it five years ago. While the mind and body are both willing and you are happy to carry on. So now it has happened and I feel happy to sit back and just watch how the modern younger farmers cope, and look closely for how much common sense they use.

One pound of learning requires ten pounds of common sense to apply it.
Persian Proverb

A handful of common sense is worth a bushel of learning.

Author Unknown