In June I was lucky enough to visit the Farming Memories website written by John (Farmer Giles) where I was able to look at John’s old farming photographs, find out about traditional farming methods and read stories of John’s farming memories. The story you are about to read tells of the time when John was 16 years old and he and some friends walked twenty cows eight miles from one side of Bradford to the other side. So if you are sitting comfortably I will let John ’walk’ you back in time to Bradford…………….
I am going back to 1944 when my father farmed at Bank Top Farm, Eccleshill Bradford, which is now all houses. At that time we were having a lot of vandalism on the farm, such has hay set fire to, walls and fences broken down not to mention gates left open and stock let out. So my father took the tenancy of a fifty acre farm at Hill Top Birkenshaw, which was about eight miles away on main roads skirting the busy center of Bradford. Well we had to walk Twenty Cows along these roads as my father could not afford the carriage. So we set off at five am on February the second, it had rained during the night and when we set off it was dark and frosty but very little traffic that time in the morning. To drive these cattle there were my-self and two frends all three of us around Sixteen years of age we also had a dog Judy (what a name for a cow dog) but she was a very useful dog and knew her stuff. As we were driving one of us would go on ahead shutting garden gates (A marathon) there were also road ends to watch, all went well until half way when the lead cow decided it had enough sliding about on the ice on the tarmaced road and it turned down a narrow passage way between two houses which lead to a dead end full of dust bins belonging to quite a few houses. Well a few of the cows followed and you can imagine the pandemonium at six-o-clock in the morning when the cows tried to turn round in such a small space. We eventually got the cows turned round and left behind crushed bins and spilled garbage to be on our way again before all hell let loose. Things were going well until we got to a hill – Dudley Hill, here it was so slippery on the road with the ice that the cattle were having a job to stay on their feet, and a car was coming towards us from the top of the hill, he put his brakes on and no way could he have stopped as he was sliding down the hill, how he missed every cow I shall never know, any way after a struggle we arrived at the top of the incline and continued on our way with out much trouble. Were we glad to enjoy a hearty breakfast when we arrived at Hill Top Farm. Well we were only young and enjoyed the adventure.
Driving Cows – By John (Farmer Giles).
If you have a farming story that you would like to share then please send me your story and I will happily include it on a guest appearance post.