March 2010


John Carter Stott – July 2004
This article brought back happy memories for me when at the age of fourteen I was in a ploughing match at a farm which was owned by a farmer named Ian Grant. The farm was at Farsley near Bradford, which is now mostly housing and has been built on. At the ploughing match I had a pair of half legged bays – so called because they were usually half bred Clydesdale with not much feather (or hair) on their legs. The plough that I used was named a COOK plough which had a long mould board. At the Ploughing match, at which by the way I was representing Bradford Young Farmers club, I had no one to help me open out the first furrow, I had no lead man, and in spite of that I got a special prize, of which I was very proud. On looking back I think the prize would be for the youngest competitor, and not for any excellence, although at the time I felt I had made a reasonable

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It was the summer of 1938. my holiday from school, four weeks to be spent in the fields, for a lad of Nine this was certainly the life. It was July and the Hay time was in full swing. Father and mother were up early in the day, the cows were brought up from the fields, one by one they  would rise from where they had been Lying all night chewing their cud, and they would gradually appear through the early morning mist  making their way to the gate, then up the narrow lane, which had high walls that were covered with Lichen  and Moss and across the stone strewn lane, a stream gurgled through the wall, then disappeared beneath a great stone .on the opposite side of the lane. One by one the cows arrived at the farm buildings. Into the farm yard they would come their udders full of milk with the odd cow or two, milk beginning to stream from their teats. The cows first of all would make their way to a trough in the farm yard, where they would take their fill of water, what was remarkable was that in this trough  were  several fish which lived there, we had caught these fish quite a while ago in the local canal and placed them in the trough, they would now be about Six to eight inches long, they lived quite happily in there , even when the cows had almost emptied the trough, the fish would flick about until the trough was filled again. After the cows had their fill of water, they would then go into the mistal (cow shed) where they were tied up with a chain round the neck, their were two cows to a stall, with a passage in front running the full length of the mistal this passage was called a Fotheram, Perhaps this was originally named the Fodder them, because this is where the fodder was carried to the cattle when they were fed. Well the cows were now ready for milking, which was at that timed performed by hand, because milking machines, where virtually unknown in the north. The cows would be fed and then milked, Mother would do the feeding, carrying the milk, letting out the cows after milking washing down the Standings, finally washing up the dairy utensils. Father would do the milking, which would take about two hours to milk all the eighteen Shorthorn cattle. I can still remember the sound of the cattle being milked, first of all that would be fed a mixture of Brewers grain, rolled corn with Linseed cake, then father would take his milking pail and three legged stool, he would place the three legged stool on the floor with the single leg at the rear so as when the cow moved about he was able to rock side ways. My father would then sit with the milking pail between his legs, and the sound and rhythm of the milk going into the empty pail was like music to me, and as the pail began to fill up the sound went from a high note to a lower softer note, and a froth would build up on the milk, which some times when the pail was full the froth would be inches above the pail rim with out any milk running down the pail. Many is the time I would take a pint pot and let my father fill it by milking the warm milk straight into the pot, then I would drink this while still warm, this I enjoyed, and I loved the smell of fresh milk. After milking the cows were returned to the field down the same old lane. We would all go into Breakfast, which would consist of cornflakes, followed by Ham and Eggs also fried bread. After Breakfast the horses would be fetched from the field, and given a feed of Bran and Oats, after they had eaten they would have their harness; they would then be taken to the field and hitched to the grass cutter.

SEE HAYTIME IN THIS BLOG.