Sunday, 28 December 2014

Four of us Thought were Strong

It seems that were not allowed to let any employee's lift more than 25kgs these days, building cement is all in 25 kg paper sacks, potato's are sold in 25 kg paper sacks, no one is fit enough to lift the 50 kg sacks any more.
When father bought his seed wheat from the seed corn merchant it always came in "one acre sacks" and they weighed 88 kg, (we called it one and three quarter hundred weight) like I said to sow an acre of ground.

Before combines were around, wheat was threshed in the stack yard and wheat going for bread making was weighed off into 75 kg sacks stitched along the top by hand, the buyer most often supplied the hessian sacks.

  1. Hand would sack hoist
These were lifted onto a hand wound sack hoist up to shoulder height and a man carried it across the yard into a shed to wait for the haulage firm to collect it. It was a big joke with the older men when us lads had a go at carrying them as we staggered with our legs platting under the weight one and half times our own weight.
The sequence for loading a wagon was different, they were brought out of the shed on a sack truck where two men would lift them between them with a short stave of wood under the bottom quarter of each sack.
Another awkward and unwieldy dirty job was unloading dried sugar beet pulp in hessian sacks, the sharp dry crumbs  of pulp would go down the neck of ya shirt and after half an hours work and sweat would start to make it very sore. These again were in 64 kg hessian sacks (a hundred weight and a quarter) but being so bulky they stood four foot six high and almost  three foot wide, so to carry them they had to be well up onto shoulders and neck just to balance and walk with them.

I Remember the Threshing Machine Mishap

This was in the winter of 1948 when I was 10 years old. We were baling the straw and it was the binder to (save thatching straw) that was stood by. This binder was top heavy in shape and as the drawbar is lifted it weight shifted to behind its axle and the drawbar would fly into the air, and left the binder flat on its back. ----

We were playing around the yard; the threshing machine was here,
It took nine men to operate, and came three times a year,
Ozzy was the contractor, he was owner of all the machines,
One was stood aside this day; it bound the straw in sheaves.

Four of us thought were strong, see if the drawbar we could shift,
With a struggle got it off the ground, then lighter was the lift,
This machine was on two wheels, and top heavy was in shape,
At shoulder height it pulled us up, ten foot we dangled no escape.

Ozzy came with face like thunder, chewing on his pipe,
We dropped and run so fast, and hid away from gripe,
He found a whippy nut stick, and chased us when we showed,
All morning he kept it up with vigour, till too tired was he to follow.

Took five men to lift it back, as we watch from a distance,
For years he told us with a smile, you have to find the balance,
He will always be remembered, for his pipe, and oily cap,
A wirery man with hump from age, cheerful spoken apart from mishap.

Owd Fred

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Who would like to be a farmer?

Things have slowed down for me this last ten years or so, but reflecting back on the work we did looking after the farm and its stock, and how it got done defies belief. 

We were always brought up to "work with the weather" not against it, and when the time was right put ya back into it and get the job done, this applied mainly to the field work. Almost the same thing applies to livestock, when a sheep or cow or a sow is giving birth, you need to know about it and be there on the spot. 

If an animal gets injured or needs help, be it domestic or wild, every thing else gets dropped to attend to its needs, a helping hand when needed. You never know when you want a hand ya self, and I can testify to that on quite a few times over the years, injuries ta ya self being most inconvenient. There were no  mobile phones back then.

There was never a start and a finish to a day or a week for that matter, with milking to do at 6am that gave the latest you got started and that was every day of the year.
Between milkings and after evening milking there was crops sow and tend, and later to be harvested for winter feed. Fences to maintain, hedges to cut and machinery to look after, with very little time spent on feeding ya self.

I suppose ten hours a day every day was about the norm, with exceptions when hay making or corn harvest when fourteen to eighteen hour days were not unusual.

The old farmyard 1970's, an old tractor tyre leaning against the milk churn stand and old churn dairy. The B250 International tractor standing just above the railings on the right

The loft door open where all the cattle feed corn was stored and below where the root crop mangols and hay bales were tipped through to be fed to the cows

The tractor that was used nearly all my working life, (see top picture) now restored to its  original as new look. Here its had its wheels painted and new fenders put on  in 2005, now fully restored

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.

 Owd Fred

It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one's dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent.
W Somerset Maugham  (1874 - 1965)