Poems of rural life around the farm


This page is dedicated to My son Matthew,


I started writing and recording adventures and stories of my life, some of it in verse, and put a collection of poems together, to raise money from their sale, All the proceeds go to "Headways" a head injuries charity.

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At one time during March there would be no end of Farm Displenishment sales around the area as retirement or the tenancy would be given up. They always draw a large crowd of buyers or more often than not folks who just want to have a good look around the farm and buildings.

Theses days farm sales are few and far between for some reason or other. This was a few observations of my neighbours sale last year.

The Farm Sale

The years have come the years have gone, its time to sell the lot,
And now I’ve got to organize, the sale of all I’ve got,
To pull it out the sheds and then, n’ lay it out in rows,
For all and everyone who comes, to have a dam good nose.

The tools and all machinery, bought it years ago,
Ploughed the land and worked it, encouraged crops to grow,
Harrowed all the grass in spring, soon as the Daff’s appear,
Cattle would be turned out, and sold that big fat steer.

Job to know where to start, and find things long forgotten,
Things we used like brushing hooks, n’ pitch forks stale gone rotten,
Shovels spades and muck forks, all standing where last used,
Some I’ve had a long time, and some they were abused.

Workshop that’s a nightmare, the scrap ruck will increase,
Wading through the junk to find, that lost now found tailpiece
All the things you save as spares, but things move on apace,
Out dated now and far too small, with newer one replaced.

The tractor that’s seen better days, reliable it has been,
Well used and got a loader on, could do with a dam good clean,
Worked it hard all day long, every day of the year,
Last day now it has arrived, and to the field must steer.

A second one it’s older still, with a draughty cab,
Tyres worn and torn about, n’ the paints a little drab.
Steering wobbles brakes no good, useful to have about,
Its winter when it wonner start, I have a dam good shout.

Be sorry to see an empty yard, and all the cleaned out sheds,
The damp old house abandoned, and empty old farmstead,
Silence now for few a weeks, until new folk move in,
Then once again start from new, new livestock make a din.

Countryman (Owd Fred)

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Rotations in farming,
 was the only way to control weeds and to increase fertility with a grass break and a root crop, the annual weed seed bank would not have a chance to build up. Basically its how the organic farmers endeavour to produce their crops now, but it was just a normal way of farming just 60 years ago.

 It was a truly the mixed farm that had the best chance of controlling weeds as they could make the best use of a three or four year ley (grass break), and produce muck from the livestock kept on the farm.


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.

Countryman




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Tracks Across Fields

It comes natural in the countryside to notice what is about and where the tracks lead, in fresh snow it easy, in wet weather its the mud in gateways and lanes. If its a cows or  cattle got out of a  field or where they should not be, they will leave a walking trail of muck spotted along where they are going, and by their hoof mark you can see which way.  


Tracks Across Fields

Tracks across the fields, and tracks off down the lanes,
In the snow in the mud, fresh tracks still it rains,
Paws, feet, hooves n’ boots, wheels with grippe tyres,
Big and small, heavy and light, not long then they expire.


Every print has a tale to tell, on who has crossed your path,
See the direction that they went, and if they’re causing wrath,
Follow to see where they go, and if they came back that way,
Intruders can see, up to no good, or if they’re out to play.


All the prints tell a tale, the pattern they leave behind,
The claws on paws and the gait of the stride aligned,
There’s webbed feet and long toes, belong to who knows,
And there’s birds that land, and take off like the crows.


There’s cows and there’s calves, and horses with shoes,
See how many have passed, that way from the clues,
Tyres leave prints be it bikes or cars, tractors and all,
Speeding and skidding, or getting stuck when they stall.


You can read every where, who’s has been up that way,
Prints and tracks tell a tale all every day,
You may be alone, but someone’s been up there,
A crossing of tracks in the lane be aware.


Countryman
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The land and farms evolved mainly by natural boundaries, rivers and streams and lanes and tracks, ditches were dug to drain wet areas and on top of the spoil dug out hedgeing plants were planted. In the uplands stones were cleared to form fields  and built into stone walls, the more the stones the smaller the fields, the evidence of years of hard work can still be seen to this day


The Land Divided Into Farms

The land it was divided, into farms for cattle and sheep,
Some land they grew the corn, for them selves to keep,
Some they had wheat to sell, was taken to the mill,
There stone ground for bread, baker’s shop and van to fill.

Some land it stayed in woodland, itself to regenerate,
As old ones fall and lets in light, the saplings they do await,
A long rotation of new to old, from the old a’ forestation,
Fenced all round now, and preserved for the British nation.


Countryman














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Farm mechanisation has taken over farming, where there used to be about four farm workers per farm, now only two of the farms have one worker each, most of the farms have been amalgamated with adjacent farms, in other word we only have half the number of farms.

The farm workers were characters in themselves, often talking about when they were young back in the 1900's


Village Life has Changed   (From the 1940’s)


Village life has changed a lot, from sixty years ago,
Horses still did most the work, and hear the cockerel’s crow,
Water drawn from village wells, to last a whole day through,
Early start for most the men, walking in the morning due.

Cows were driven down the road, to daytime pastures far,
Back for evening milking, not much bothered by the car,
Ducks and geese on every pond, and dabbling in the brook,
A pig a fattening in a sty, back of most cottages you look.

All the tradesmen in the village, wheelwright and the smithy,
Working round the estate with his mate, a handyman come bricky,
Of course a teacher for the school, and a parson we have got,
A cobbler worked in his cottage, the village shop I near forgot.

Looking back them years ago, fond memories they are,
Of when we were young and growing up, better was by far,
The fun we had with simple thing, most of them home made,
The start of life, a village life, not far from which we strayed.

Countryman






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The old police house

This was the old village Police house up until about 1948, from here he would set out on his rounds of the lanes and farms on his bike. After that date there was a new purpose built police house built about a quarter mile down the road, this included a lockup cell if he arrested anyone, and a garage to house his  bike and later his Vesper Scooter, he worked on his scooter for about five years then he had a Panda Car, for those not familiar with the English police cars it was light blue round the bottom with a white roof and chevrons round the middle and a police sign on top. He caught more people red handed on his bike because you could not hear him coming, the scooter could be heard from way off, we could recognise its sound and so could any poachers.

We had a village policeman


We had a village policeman, and he rode round on his bike,
Quietly ride round lanes and tracks, to catch a thief and strike,
Early morning late at night, never knew where he was,
The law he did uphold round here, and to find the cause.


He lived in the police house, and it was brand new,
With a lockup cell, for the criminals he pursue,
Patrolled the parish every day, on his trusty bike,
Pedalled miles kept him fit, his flock to him they liked.


Often stopped for a cup of tea, local news he glean,
Asking who was round about, and of who we seen,
Strangers snooping, stolen stock, thing he wants to know,
Its law and order he must keep, hunt them high and low.


Smugglers of contraband, of food that’s all on ration,
Sold or moved outside the law, looked and he took action,
A quiet word with farmer friends, back hander think he got,
Turn a blind eye here and there, as long as it wasn’t shot.


Local poachers, knew them all, could keep a watchful eye,
He knew the places where to look, sit and watch and spy,
Catch them red handed on the spot, take them to his lockup,
Question who and where and when, the others to round up.


To get around much quicker, he had a motor bike,
It was a Vesper Scooter, no longer he catlike,
Could hear him coming, along the road way back,
His cover blown fore he gets near, for this we gave him flack.


A panda car, that was next, to keep him dry and warm,
Take on parishes more than one, for miles away he’s drawn,
His cover stretched too far and wide, not seen about so much,
Of calling on the local folk, he was out of touch.


The local station that was closed, from town they had to come,
Call them on the telephone, so remote they had become,
Every time, a different one, we didn’t know who he was,
They didn’t know the area; they could have come from OZ.


So bring back the local bobby, give him back his beat,
Get to know the local folk, and walk and get sore feet,
Know the villages round about, woods and tracks and lanes,
Were all behind him, bring him back, the local folk campaign.


Countryman


 The problem with any unwritten law is that you don’t know where to go to erase it.
  Glaser and Way

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Well here in UK harvest has all but finished, the only crop standing tall is the Maize which is chopped for cattle feed, today 10 October 2011 I have seen one of the first crops  being chopped today. As with a lot of crops here in the midlands of UK, yields are down and so it is with the maize
Harvest Celebration

Completion of the harvest, is a time to celebrate,
Leaves on trees are yellowing, around the whole estate,
Barns and bins are full to bursting, for winter now is here,
In olden days it was the same, to grow still takes a year.

A lot more hand work then, more men worked upon the land,
Ploughed with horses and acre a day, seed was sown by hand,
Good rotation of all the crops, kept most weeds at bay,
At harvest stood sheaves up in stooks, for two church bells they must stay.

Into bays or ricks were built, threshed out as needed through the year,
Wheat went to the mill to be ground, flour for bread we do revere,
Oats to feed the cattle and horses, and some for porridge bound,
To feed the men and families who, work on the land all year round.

Mechanised now and fewer men, but crops still grow the same,
Sunshine and warmth in the spring, showers to grow good crops the aim,
In nature nothing really changes, seasons come and go,
To keep us on the land we all love, its food for everyone we grow.

Countryman

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Looking back sixty years ago  growing up our old farm house had none of the insulation that you would expect and demand these days. In winter it was nothing to see frost on the inside of the bedroom windows, the only warm room in the house was the kitchen and the bedroom above. It was this bedroom where us four lads slept

 How we Lived in our Old House

Insulation's none existent, big jumper you must ware,
Half timbered single brick, few inches plaster of horse hair,
Frosty weather glistens inside, a fridge you could compare,
Roof half filled with starling’s nests, built up over the years.

Kitchens the warmest place, coal fire in big old range,
Heats the oven and boils, the kettle on the chimney crane,
Boils the taters and stew, toast the bread on a fork,
From the ceiling hangs a cloths drier, lifts and lowers on cord.

Bedroom bove the kitchen, only room upstairs warm,
Usually the kids have this room, that is always the norm,
Other rooms are chilled and cold, cool in summer though,
This is how we lived them days, kids now will never know.

Old iron bedstead webbed with steel, straw mattress on the top,
Then feather mattress covered with a white sheet she’d pop,
Mother made a groove up this, dropped us into bed,
A sheet two blankets and eiderdown, feather pillow lay ya head.

Best front room not often used, too posh to use every day,
Used over Christmas and party’s, best crockery out on display,
Fathers roll top desk in there, his bills and letters wait to pay,
Always locked cus of cash in their, he always had last say.

Now heating was a big open fire, ingle nook chimney above,
Logs as long as ya can lift, one end on the fire to shove,
The bigger the fire, bigger the draught across the floor,
The heat goes up the chimney, fresh air comes in under the door.

A cellar beneath front room, brick steps leading down,
Couple of vents to the garden, the mesh with weeds overgrown,
Air circulation its not good, and musty damp and wet,
Timber in the floor above, gone weak and springy pose a threat.

A room with settlass all way round, there to salt the pig,
Not been used now for many a year, doesn’t look so big,
Salt has drawn up the brickwork, all through to outside
Bricks are flaking and rotting, replace section of bricks decide.

Mother kept a big tin bath, hung on a nail outside back door,
Brought it in to the hearth, filled with kettle and big jug she pour,
Youngest first then nother kettle, warm it agen for the second,
Cold night our steaming little bodies, hot crisp towel it beckoned.

So we kids lived in the big kitchen, our bedroom top of back stairs,
Long old sofa under the window, father had his own armchair,
Big old peg rug in front of the fire, we played and sat on that,
Large old radio in the window, then hurray first tele in front we sat.

Countryman

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This poem reflects back on how father taught us all his skills from when we were very young, he taught usmanners and respect and always tell the truth 


Memories of Olden Days

Memories of olden days, back then when I were a lad,
Of things we did and said and learnt, copied from me dad,
Of learning how to talk and walk, and manners got to learn,
Tell the truth and honest be, and respect you’ve got to earn.

Never cheek your elders, and address them with respect,
Speak only when you’re spoken to, and answer them direct,
Muttering and Laughing, in your hand it is the worst,
Hold it back don’t let it out, even if you fit to burst.

He taught us how to use his tools, and how to work real hard,
How to earn an honest crust, in the workshop cross the yard,
To make things useful on the farm, repair them if they broke,
Keep the place all tidy, he was a very fussy bloke.

He taught us how to plant the seeds, in garden and the fields,
And as they grow look after them, to grow and give good yields
Harvest time to bring it in, and store for winter use,
To feed the family, feed the stock, to run out’s no excuse.

To rear the calves and pigs and hens, and feed them every day,
Milk the cows and collect the eggs, and sell without delay,
Pigs to take to bacon weight, and sows to get in pig,
And start the job all over again, it’s always been that way.

Thinking back orr seventy years, the basic things the same,
Treat others how, you would like, others to treat you the aim,
Manners make’eth man were told, its only yourself to blame,
Rules of life are rules to keep, it’s always been the same.

Countryman



As you may realise from my name Owd Fred, I am getting on a bit, and a bit long in the tooth, the poems go under a pen name of Countryman



The same Farm house in 1945

This is the old houses on the right of the village road in the top picture, again this is 1945. In 1955 these three houses were demolished to make way for new Council Houses  This old lady in the picture, its her father in the top picture standing in the road with his dog.





This is reflecting back on my farming life, with all the ups and downs, but on the whole we live in a most beautifully place and never in my life had ever thought of living and farming anywhere else.

   
  A Good Old Way of Life


There are the wise and the old, and the young, who want to learn,
There’s the hard working not so olds, their fortunes try to earn,
Farming’s got a grip on them, they know no other way,
Come hail or rain or sunshine, it’s just another day,
From early in the morning, till after dark at night,
For crops and stock their caring, they are their delight.
Working hard day by day, in a green and pleasant land,
Don’t have time to stand and stare, have a good look around,
Take in the beauty where, they work the fields the trees n lanes
All the years of care and sweat, well out weighs the pains.
It’s just a good old way of life, their families there to rear,
Health and hope and happiness, the harvest brings good cheer.


 Countryman

2 comments:

  1. There's something special about rural life! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. To all the good people out there who read this page and my blogs in general, it would be a great privilege for me if you could make a comment and ask questions about what you have read.
    I am of an age when I can remember steam engines pulling threshing sets about the farms in the village and tractors just coming onto farms.
    The first radio, called a wireless, with and aerial wire stretched from the house to the pear tree in the orchard run by a glass accumulator (battery) charged up at the locale garage/petrol station, the fist television in 1950 and first telephones, the first milking machines 1938
    The medium which I am using to tell you of my life is way beyond my comprehension, it tells me there is around 200 hits (is that what its called) every day from USA, but I would need some proof from a few readers of these blogs that that is the case.
    So please make an owd mons day by flooding in a few replies

    Owd Fred

    ReplyDelete