Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Educations What You Want

Never was much good at school, too busy thinking of the work we were doing about the farm, the things we made and used, the new machinery the father eventually bought after long discussions.

The teacher accused us of day dreaming, but bring on any practical job and we beat all others in the class hands down. We learned to plough and to sow seeds, to reap the harvest and store it, to thatch the ricks of hay and corn (wheat). All this we learned to do at home including plumbing, laying concrete, building brick walls, repairing timber hay racks and troughs and gates and hanging them.
Our Maths were not too bad as it was used in the calculations needed to sow the right amount of seed to the acre, the mixing of the rations for the livestock, cows pigs and poultry. The weighing off sacks of potatoes for sale and the same for any grain (wheat for and oats) sold as cash crops. The measuring of milk into churns multiplied by the dozen or more churns that left the farm each day  to the bottling plant in Birmingham to have the right totals on the labels. 

The writing was my downfall, for years I only ever writ letters and replies, and that was not very often, but I seem to have caught up on that score this last ten years or more. The computer has helped me with its spell checker, and have managed to write down a lot of my experiences in and around the village and about the village folk that I was brought up alongside. 

In other words, we learnt the things necessary for farming the land, as mechanisation kicked in there were less and less men needed to do the jobs, making it at times a very lonely job, spending days and sometimes weeks at a time in a tractor seat, ploughing cultivation and sowing. At least in the olden days you had a pair of horses you could talk to and quite a number of other men working about the farm.

The village school as it is today, with now a huge extension build to the rear of it. The right hand door and the two windows was the School house, now offices. Mother started this school at the age of three in 1919 and was taught in the infants class by Miss Pye. When I started this school 1942 I also had this same teacher who learnt all her pupils to write in big bold loops, my  hand writing was very similar to my mothers.

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 there 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 a field, became the city slicker.

Owd Fred

Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten
B. F. Skinner  (1904 - 1990)

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Fordson E27N

Its ploughing match time again, the old Fordson struck up fourth pull of the starting handle after standing almost six months at the back of the shed.
Its now looking a bit dusty and in need of a good cleanup, the paint work needs touching up particularly around the engine where heat and oil and the dribble of fuel when the carburetor is drained of TVO (tractor vaporising oil) to allow the petrol in for cold starting. 

Ploughing at home when I hosted a ploughing match on our Maize stubbles,  on this occasion it has its spade lug steel wheels fitted, it also has a set of steel flat bands that go over the spade lug to enable you to drive down the road
Almost seventy years difference in age and technology met at a ploughing match a few years ago, both in their own right were top of the range when brought out for the first time.The Fordson had new hydraulic three point linkage and new implements designed to go with it, in this case I have the mounted plough of the same year 1946. The engine thermostat you may notice is the radiator bling which is half down, adjusted according to how hard the engine is worked. 
A view over the rear wheel of the opening split just about to close it back in. Other tractors at the far end of the field and to the right doing the same thing

Transport for all the tractors taking part in the home ploughing match with  seven of the ninety or more plots in the picture getting close to the finish

Traveling at speed on a country road at 14 miles per hour
No luxury of a starter motor, its a crank handle 
Stable mates together, The International B250 I drove that from new in 1956  that is diesel with a starter motor and has hydraulics and differential lock, a great step forward in the design  particularly the diff lock 
This is how it arrived at my farm almost ten years ago, it had been the power unit to a rear mounted turf cutter, not had a great deal of work but left out in the fields year in year out. All the tin work wheel fenders had to be replaced, and the tyres, the engine was in good order with very little signs of ware.  It had an extra high/low gear box fitted making it four inches longer to give creep gears for the turf cutting also a depth control fitted to enable the turf cutter to be carried at a fixed height
Stripped down for cleaning and re-painting, the hydraulic unit has been lifted off the rear axle housing  it fixes on with six stud bolts, fuel tank and the cast iron radiator also removed

So now is a good time to re-fresh the old Fordson E27N and get it back to its gleaming self as of 1948 and 2006.

My father had one to replace the Standard Fordson that he had worked  all through the war years, I would be just ten years old when the E27N came and learned to drive it, although we had been steering the Standard Fordson when cutting the wheat and oats with the binder. 
It was nice to have that experience back again after all those years and appreciate how we worked out in all weathers on an machine that by today's standards is very crude and basic.

A day's work is a day's work, neither more nor less, and the man who does it needs a day's sustenance, a nights repose and due leasure, whether he be painter or a ploughman.

George Bernard Shaw  (1856 - 1950)

Saturday, 1 August 2015

The Old Farm House 24

I have many pictures of our old farm house, but now we have left for a more modest house in the village not a hundred yards/paces/metres west of the farm, the old house is undergoing a major refurbishment.

Everything growing close to the walls has been cleared away and scaffolding has been erected all round it, the only exception is an old pear tree growing on a westerly facing wall reputedly being upwardly a hundred and  fifty years old. The last refurbishment was when we moved in some thirty three years ago, on that occasion it had twelve extra windows put in, one notably was positioned to one side of the old pear tree so as not to disturb its  location having been pinned and trained up that wall for generations.
Another modernisation to bring it up to date back then was the electricity, it only had one yes one, two pin socket on the beam  in the sitting room, and that ran the old radio and latterly a black and white TV, they had to be unplugged for an electric iron to be used, there was also a few light bulbs about the house almost one to a room. Over forty new three pin sockets were wired in all round the house to a new fuse board and a modern fuse trip installed, two way switches on the stairs and lights along the landing and over the main outside doors.
The plumbing was noticeable by it absence, It had a rayburn in the kitchen with a cylinder to heat water and a hot water pipe down to the kitchen to a plywood base sink and drainer, this was listing badly as the ply wood was slowly rotting from under it  with, or so it seemed the waste drain pipe through the wall and the cold feed pipe into the house being the only things holding it steady.

There was an old cast iron bath in the back toilet, this had no taps and no plumbing other than a drain plug down to the farm drains, and in the wash room next to it was a big old cast iron 'Copper' ('Copper', a round U shaped cast iron boiler with a round wooden lid on top holding about twenty five gallons, and no it was not made of copper, but that is what it was called)   with a coal fire under it to heat the water for  doing the weekly wash and for heating the bath water. The water had to be ladled out of the copper to the bath and the appropriate amount of cold water from the well pumped for cooling.
 Also in that back wash room was the original well for the house and farm, and I was told by the previous tenants, that it would run dry in summer, so another well was dug in the 1940's  just outside only a few yards from the old one, this when I opened it up in 1983 (and opened again a few days ago July 2015) is thirty foot deep and had plenty of water. When mains water came into the village in the 1950's all wells were condemned and never used again, this one is still clean and useable now, even after all those years.
As with most old houses, the nails holding the laths under the tiles on the roof are very rusty and obviously very close to slipping, if that happens it then forces an emergency big roof job, so the roof has been totally stripped off, the tiles now built up in huge piles on the scaffolding that now envelope the old house.  The old lath and plaster ceilings up stairs have been fetched down and any remaining walls with the horse hair plaster cleaned back to the bare bricks.
The jackdaws have abandoned the chimneys which now stick up in the air like long fingers badly in need of pointing and re-topping. Some of the main roof beams have been taken down to reveal that they are good straight fir trees with the bark still on them after some 250 years holding the roof up.

Its hard to imagine that a family of twenty one children were born and reared there in the late 1800's only one of which went on to live there and rear five children of his own. The youngest of this five children went on to farm Yews Farm up until he retired in 1983 . All of this family of five spent their whole life at Yews Farm and in the old farm house, and none of them every got married, three spinsters and two bachelors. Heating back then was the coal fires, three of the bedrooms had a fire place, and water heated in the copper that I mentioned above. Latterly a rayburn was fitted and a hot water cylinder and one hot water  tap fitted over a flimsy plywood sink unit in the back kitchen, and a bath tub plumbed in up stairs.  When we moved in in 1984 the old heavy cast iron bath (which sat in the downstairs bathroom next to the copper) was taken up the a new bathroom and plumbed in for the first time in its life, it took four of use to move it, such was its weight.
Eighteen radiators were fitted and plumbed in and a boiler installed across the yard to run on logs and straw. After a month of hot radiators we found that the main stair case became loose from its wall fixings due to the timber drying out for the first time in many years, and walls that needed plastering were plastered and we painted and decorated the house from top to bottom.
I must say that it was only partially heated in the first winter, as the radiators were installed in three circuits, only the downstairs circuit was done in time for winter. It was then that we had frost on the inside some of the bedroom windows when it was particularly cold for about a week,

It will be very good to see the old farm house get its new roof, doors and windows in time for the winter of 2015, a  refurbishment that will last another fifty years or more.

The best way to realize the pleasure of feeling rich is to live in a smaller house that your means would entitle you to have
Edward Clarke