My earliest memories
I should record some of my earliest memories of farming, and also
the war. Regarding former utterly massive changes since I've been
around, even more so for my dad who was born in 1884!, so he was around
when virtually all farm work was horse powered, a lot in my early days
too. The first tractor I can recall on our farm was a brown Ford that
would have "spade lugs" on iron wheels. For hauling in the harvest, we
had (I think) eight 'boat wagons' - as can be seen in farm museums, I
cannot recall a tractor being used to haul these.
One 'carry over' from earlier times, was preparing for harvest, a field
of grain to be cut by the binder had to be cut around by hand to allow
entry by the binder, and enough room round the field to start cutting
without damaging the crop. My dad and the chaps did this job with
"hooks and crooks". The 'hook' was the curved 'sickle' - still well
described in dictionary's, and the 'crook' was usually just a branch
shaped to hold a clump of straw against the hook. The 'sheives' of cut
straw were collected into bundles, and tied with a handful of straw.
Ought to be queried why was a scyth not used, surely not so
'backbreaking'? Yes, I would have thought so to. Convenient for
gathering into bundles I assume.
As for milking cows, it was all done by hand - not very hygenic in
practice as recall! All milk was sent in churns, and I recall the
size of these did vary. Nestle's used 8 gallon churns, but the majority
of the rest were of 10 gallon size. Fact, think i recall even heavier -
17 gallons was it? Surely it would have taken two men to lift these?
Amazing what men working on farms could carry though in those days -
I'm thinking of those great Hessian sacks of wheat they carried from
the thrashing machine. Yes the thrashing machine! There were
contractors who travelled the countryside doing this job. Once as I
rember, it was powered by a steam 'traction engine' - not sure how
sparks where prevented, but obviously they had to be, so much dry straw
around. Usually a "John Deere" I think did this work.
Born in 1935 I can recall a lot about the war - certainly the massive
number of Americans in the countryside just prior to D Day. We used to
watch them at Kellaways bridge drive their Jeeps into the river via a
ramp which can be seen on the left looking up river. They drove these
up the river and came out into the paddock on the right, recall the
amount of water swilling out as they swung round!