Do you remember jackanory from your childhood days? Well Jackanory was a children’s programme in which a story was read aloud to the viewing children. I loved this programme and as I had a few farming stories thought that I would bring to you “Farmernory.”
If anyone tells you that pigs are not intelligent then I wouldn’t believe them. Since I have been keeping pigs in the last year I have witnessed many things that lead me to believe that pigs are intelligent. (I’ll leave them for another post!)
I have 7 remaining piglets that are nearly 11 weeks old. Since birth Blacky Leftfoot has been inquisitive and curious and not afraid to lead the other piglets into mischief. He has always been first at the door or following behind me when I’ve been carrying a bag or bucket. He just seems to know where the action is!
He seems to love the plastic feed bags and if I happen to place a feed bag on the floor he will soon pick it up and carry it around with him or have alittle wrestle with it. When I want to move my piglets from one barn to another I will shake an empty feed bag and the piglets dash off into the other barn. Blacky however is becoming immune to this method of movement as he loikes to play with the bags. It is funny when he gets on and starts running around the barn, all the other piglets think that they need to dash off to the other barn. maybe soon I can get Blacky to herd the rest of the piglets where I want them!
Anyway back to Mischievous Piglets Lock Owner In Barn! On Sunday, as I did my evening muck out and feeding routine of the sows and piglets, whilst waiting for a courier to deliver 100 quail, the piglets managed to lock me in the barn. The barn is separated into 2 – the outer barn is where I keep the food and let the piglets have a run around whilst I muck out their pen. The inner barn consists of 2 pens, one for the sows and one for the piglets. When I go into muck out the sow I have to keep the piglets in the outer barn otherwise they will be in with the sows causing mayhem. I have to lock the top bolt as I go in otherwise the piglets would open the barn door with their snouts. So on Sunday after I had done a quick muck out of the sows, i turned to the barn door and unbolted the top bolt which I can just manage to reach over the top of the door. I went to open the door but it wouldn’t budge. When I looked over the top I could see some of the piglets pushing and sniffing at the door. It was then that I realised that one of the mischievous piglets had pushed the bottom bolt with his snout. The only trouble was I couldn’t reach the bottom bolt and secondly there wasn’t anyway of climbing over the barn door. I called out, “Is anyone there, can anyone help me?” But the sound of tumbleweed echoed in my ears, well it would have done if the piglets hadn’t been making so much noise with their excited and mischievous play. It was at that moment I realised that I didn’t have my mobile and there was no way out. This wouldn’t normally have bothered me but I knew that any minute now the courier could arrive with 100 quail which I had been waiting for. I tried asking the piglets to push on the bolt, but their intelligence suddenly seemed to have disappeared! So what did I do, well I kicked the door and thankfully the bolt came loose and I managed to get out, so all was well and I was there to greet the lovely pretty cream coloured quail that arrived an hour later.
I couldn’t tell the piglets off as I thought the incident was funny. Well looking back it was!
Have you ever been locked in or out of somewhere by an animal?
Trisha from Bird Table News has kindly shared her brother’s farming memories with me. Bruce has written a number of farming stories which I am going to post. This post is entitled 19FineDays and was first published in the Burton Fleming newsletter in 2004. Bruce’s farming memories will not only transport you back to 2004, but the 1950′s and 1960′s, so sit back and enjoy the trip down memory lane….
“Recently on the radio I heard comments that farmers would have great difficulty in completing the harvest before the end of September if the weather didn’t improve and hold up. It has surely been a miserable summer for them and everyone else. Hearing this conversation reminded me of a saying I heard when I was able to help out on the farm during the late 50′s, early 60′s. We only tend to remember the blue skies and sunshine but there were also times when comments and concerns were expressed about bad weather and the late harvests back in those days. It would have been during one of those wet summers that Maz, who helped out on the farm during the harvest, tried to console people that if the harvest wasn’t home by the end of September it would always get done in October.
“There’s always nineteen finedays in October”, he would say with a certainty that nevertheless was no consolation to the farmer.
Of course in those days the reaper cut the corn into sheaves which had to be stooked in the field then led home to be stacked. If it rained there was nothing at all to dry the corn or straw except the wind and sunshine. Persistent wet weather meant that the sheaves still laying on the ground had to be turned inside out, each one by hand until they were all dry enough to be stooked. The stooks, if sodden, had to be re-stooked with the inner side facing outwards until the sheaves dried out and, of course, the corn stack had to be left dry always. To us kids they were marvellous summers but to the farmer in those days nineteen finedays in October must, at times, have been a Godsend.”
19FineDays By Bruce.
If you have a farming story, memory or farm visit that you would like to share then please send me your story and I will happily include it on a guestappearance post.
A couple of weeks ago on my usual Saturday search for the photo hunters, I came across a very interesting post all about a farm that became a successful amusement park. Ellen @ The Happy Wonderer was the author of the post. I was so taken with this article that I contacted Ellen to ask if she would let me post it on my guest appearance and guess what, she said yes!
In the 1920s, Walter Knott (December 11, 1889-December 3, 1981) and his family sold berries, berry plants and pies from a roadside stand beside California State Highway 39, near the small town of Buena Park. In the 1930s, Walter Knott was introduced to a new berry which had been cultivated by Rudolph Boysen. The plant was a combination of the red raspberry, blackberry, and loganberry. Walter planted a few plants he had received on a visit to Boysen’s farm, and later started to sell them at their roadside stand. When people asked him what they were called he said “boysenberries”.
In 1934, Knott’s wife Cordelia (b. 1890 – d. 1974) began serving fried chicken dinners, featuring boysenberry pie for dessert. As Southern California developed, Highway 39 became the major north-south connection between Los Angeles County and the beaches of Orange County, and the restaurant’s location was a popular stopping point for drivers making what at the time was a two-hour trip. Until the development of the 605 and 57 freeways in the late 1960s, Highway 39 (now known in Orange County as Beach Boulevard) continued to carry the bulk of the traffic between eastern Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
Within a few years, lines outside the restaurant were often several hours long. To entertain the waiting crowds, Walter began to build a ghost town in 1940, using buildings relocated from real old west towns such as Calico, California and Prescott, Arizona. They added attractions such as a narrow-gauge train ride, a pan-for-gold area, and the Calico Mine Ride. Frequent activities at what Knott called a “summer-long county fair” included – naturally – boysenberry pie eating contests. When Disneyland was built in nearby Anaheim, the two attractions were not seen as direct competitors, due to the different nature of each. Walt Disney visited Knott’s Berry Farm on a number of occasions, and hosted the Knotts at his own park. The two Walters had a cordial relationship, and worked together on a number of community causes.
In 1968, the Knott family fenced the farm, charged admission for the first time, and Knott’s Berry Farm officially became an amusement park. Because of its long history, Knott’s Berry Farm claims to be “America’s First Theme Park.”
My new friend Trisha lives on a farm and loves to feed the birds. She has recently set up a website called Bird Table News which tells you all about the birds that are visiting her garden and the food that Trisha is feeding them. Birdy Trisha, as she likes to be known, has kindly written a story of her childhood memories of living in a rural community. Her memories will transport you back to the 1950′s…
When I was nobbut a lass growing up in a wolds village there were two farms on the main street who milked cows for a living. The two herds of cows were walked through the front street of the village twice a day – from the fields to the milking parlour and back again. The roads were used by tractors, cows, bikes and people then. Cars weren’t masters of the roads as they are today. The milk was taken away in churns. Now both dairy farms have gone, as has the butcher, one village shop and the village pub.
Village life in the 1950′s was lived in the slow lane yet as school children we were kept very, very busy -
Chalking out the lines and playing hopscotch
Playing ball together
Skipping – either with a small skipping rope or with a group – what were those rhymes we sang as we skipped?
Playing in a sandpit in the garden
Playing mudpies with old pans and cups
Putting a collar on the rabbit and taking it for a walk
Playing in a den inside a garden hedge – and listening to birds.
Thinking back to my childhood days I remember how we were told stories about birds that we believed were true. Here are a few things that I remember -
Birds Being Able To Foretell The Weather
Robins – If robins chirp sadly near the hedge then that means bad weather is coming, even though the day may be bright and sunny at the time. If a robin is seen chirping happily on a topmost twig, even if the weather it bad, this means good weather is coming.
Pigeons – If pigeons gather on the ridge of a house this means there will be a storm of wind or rain
Who needs the television weather forecast?!!
Birds To Signify Fortune and Good Luck
Cuckoo – It’s good luck if you have money on you the first time you hear a cuckoo in any year.
Swallows – We were told it’s lucky if you have swallows building thier nests under the eaves of your house. Bad luck will follow if the nests are disturbed or are left by the swallows.
Rooks – The same thing was sometimes said about rooks. If there is a rookery near your house then good luck will stay with you. If rooks suddenly leave their nesting site bad luck will follow.
I remember the last bit of folklore about the rooks very well. Nearly every farm had a rookery attached to it. Now I live near a rookery, and as much as they annoy me when they land on my bird table, I would miss rooks and crows as they come in to roost and miss them circling around.
My husband’s family have lived in our village for many years and his grandparents were often seen at key events, so as the new farmer’s wife I felt it was my duty to continue with the family tradition of attending the village functions. The harvest festival service at the church was to be my first public appearance, however one of the farm animals had other ideas about how I would spend the evening. The farming story I am about to share with you is a true story that occurred in October 2004 so read on the find out exactly what happened….
This was no ordinary Sunday. Harvest Festival was to start at our local church at 6pm and it was the first service I was due to attend.
Earlier in the afternoon I had heard lots of shouting and heavy footsteps running across the yard. I didn’t know what all the commotion was about. Then I saw my husband charging past, so I popped my head out of the kitchen window to ask. I was told that a bullock was on the loose and under no circumstances was I to leave the house.
By 5.30pm it all seemed peaceful and calm in the yard. No one had told me if they had caught the bullock. I just assumed that either it had been returned and no one had let me know or the drama of the runawaybullock had moved on to the village. Anyway the coast seemed clear for me to go to the poultry pens and feed Hatty and Hetty before I went to the church.
No problem, not a runawaybullock in sight.
It was on my return from feeding the hungry hens when I encountered a problem and a rather large problem at that! As I passed the bales I noticed a bullock in the middle of the vegetable patch. It wasn’t just trotting on by, it was standing and staring right at me.
I to was rooted to the spot. My heart was pounding so fast and so hard I could hear it thudding in my ears. A sickening feeling crept over me but before it engulfed me I managed to shout for my husband, “Steve!”…………My voice echoed in to the silent night. But nobody came to my rescue. As I slowly tried to back away, my escape root was blocked by the stack of bales I could now feel against my back. What was I going to do? The only thing between me and the runawaybullock was a rickety old fence. Just as the sickening feeling returned and I thought I might pass out, the bullock took one last look at me and retreated through the garden and back down the lane.
I have never moved so fast in all my life. It was only when I slammed the door shut and turned the key in the lock that I sighed with relief. It was then that I heard the bells chiming to signal the start of the Harvest Festival service, but there was no way I was following that bullock up the lane. I’d have to wait for next year’s service and hope that my attendence wasn’t stopped by another runawaybullock!
If you have a farming story, memory or farm visit that you would like to share then please send me your story and I will happily include it on a guest appearance post.
Yes the male animals can be more troublesome at times! But we wouldn’t be without them.
I was relieved when the bullock backed away. Thanks for dropping by and commenting. Sara @ farmingfriends
I thoroughly enjoy reading a lovely website called A Growing Delight and learning all about life in Australia through the eyes of Alice and her family. Alice belongs to a writing group and back in August she wrote the story you are about to read for her writing group. She has kindly sent me her wonderful heart-warming story to share with you all, so sit back and enjoy reading about Gordon the farmer and the blind visit…..
Gordon was an amazing man. I don’t know anything about his early life, and he was in his early 20s and I was still at Primary School when I first met him. My friends and I knew Gordon by sight but he didn’t know any of us by sight, for you see, Gordon was blind.
However, blindness didn’t stop Gordon’s determination to become a farmer. His family lived in Melbourne but each Monday morning he would board the train for the 100klm trip to the tiny West Gippsland town of Lang Lang. On arrival he would walk the 15klm to Heath Hill along the Westernport Road, sometimes being given a ride by a passing motorist. Gordon came to know this road well, and many of the local farmers came to know the tall, dark haired figure of Gordon very well, too. On Friday afternoons he would set out from Heath Hill on the return trip to Lang Lang to catch the train back to Melbourne, sometimes accepting a ride from a farmer or even the local school bus. His weekends were spent in Melbourne, no doubt some of the time with his fiancée, Rita. During the week at Heath Hill Gordon was engaged in building a large, corrugated iron shed, divided in two by a passageway open at both ends. Half of this shed became his milking shed and the other half was to become home for many years for Gordon and Rita after they married, and their increasing family, which ultimately numbered 4 girls and one boy, plus another boy whom they adopted. All of their children are now grown up and married and Gordon and Rita are grandparents many times over.
Gordon was responsible for one of the most memorable days of my life. I was 19 years old and teaching 3 days a week at the local school, where two of Gordon’s children were now attending. This one-roomed school had an enrolment of about 25 pupils in 7 Grades, all of whom were taught by the Headmaster, Paul, on the days that I was not there. Gordon walked up to the school one day to have a talk to Paul about an idea he had for bringing a group of children and teachers from the Royal Victorian Institute for Blind to the school on a day visit so that they could see how a country school operated. But it wasn’t only the school that Gordon wanted these children to experience, he wanted to share the experience of country life. His initial suggestion, when put to the district families, was readily accepted and an invitation was sent to the RVIB.
On the 20 September, the school was the venue for a miracle of co-operation resulting in a miniature agricultural show, and an experience long remembered by all those who took part. Early in the morning tractors towing a variety of farm machinery such as ploughs, mowers, rakes and hay balers, began arriving at the school, closely followed by sheep, pigs, goats, horses and a variety of pets. The tractors and machinery were parked in a paddock next to the school ground and the animals were either tethered or penned in enclosures nearby. At 10 o’clock a bus with 20 children and several teachers and other staff from the RVIB arrived.
The children had of course been told about the sort of things to expect, and all were keen to explore. The parents who had brought the machinery and animals stayed and became integral players in this amazing day. The sighted children each formed small groups with their blind visitors and their teachers and eagerly showed them around the school, slowly and carefully explaining all that their visitors could not see. Time was spent not only patting but also running their hands over the animals to build up a picture in their minds. They learned to identify the animals not only by shape but also by smell and sound. Farmers patiently explained the workings of tractors and machinery, allowing the children to climb over and even to start the tractors. The owner of the farm nearest the school took several children at a time for rides on a trailer loaded with hay and pulled by the tractor up to his cowshed. Here the children could explore the milking machines, cow yards, and even try milking a cow by hand.
All too soon is was mid-afternoon and time for the farmers to start up their tractors and head for home and their waiting cows, while we at school bade farewell to our new friends. Our visitors may have learned a lot about country life that day, but I think we learned even more about the courage and resilience of children living and enjoying life despite having what we would consider a major handicap, the loss of sight. It was a day that was talked about for many weeks by all who had been fortunate enough to share in Gordon’s wonderful vision.
Every Monday I try to post a guest appearance farming story that I have been sent by one of my readers. Today’s guest appearance is a little different as I wanted to share the thrilling news that I have actually had one of my farming stories posted as a guest spot on another site. Curtis from Growing Thumbs, who appeared on my site with his memories of milking the cow, invited me to share an occasion when I have used farming equipment in the garden. Curtis has written a great introduction to my story, “For some time now. I have been reading a very well put together blog called Farming Friends. It is a very informative and fun blog about Farming and Gardening. Sara puts you right in the action with all her adventures in farming life.”
My story, which is a true story, is called The Vegetable Garden Under Attack. If you would like to read it then visit Growing Thumbs Guest Spot now and then pop back and let me know what you think of my true story.
If you have a farming story, memory or farm visit that you would like to share then please send me your story and I will happily include it on a guest appearance post.
Every Sunday I write a post linked to gardening and nature as part of Green Thumb Sunday and over the weeks I have visited lots of excellent sites, learnt many gardening facts and viewed stunning photography that has left me inspired. One of the sites I visit every week and am in awe of is The BenSpark website. Drew is an amazing photographer who also replies to everyone of my comments personally which I appreciate very much. On a recent visit to Drew’s site I read about a trip he made to Shelburne Farm and found the photographs made me feel like I was part of the farm tour too. Read on to find out exactly what Drew got up to on the farm…….
I went to Shelburne Farm in Stow, Ma recently. It was partly for apple picking and partly for photowalking. You may be familiar with the picking of apples but the activity of photowalking might not be mainstream, yet. Photowalking is the act of going out, preferably with a group of people to take a walk around an area and take photos. That is the activity, taking photos. Whether it be in an ordinary place or at a fair or at a fun location, you can photograph anywhere and it is a good time.
Shelburne Farm offers photowalkers and lovers of fresh fruit a plethora of activity. For the photowalker an Apple Orchard is a great place to shoot. Apples make good subjects and the beautiful day outside makes for great light. Mix in kids enjoying apples and you have the opportunity to take great portraits of families at play. For those into fruit and veggies an Apple Orchard is the best place to get our fruit and veggies because you picked the apples and know that they are fresh.
At Shelburne farm there are many activities for kids. There is the hay maze and pyramid, the john deer tricycle tractors and a moon bounce. They even have a sandbox and a large tractor on display that they can sit on for photos. The farm has many varieties of apples as well as peaches, there are some more fruit varieties but you can check that out on the website. I was there to take photos. Sorry, it is what I do, I take a photo each day for my blog The BenSpark and I have been field testing a great device called the GiSTEQ PhotoTrackr to help me automatically geotag my photos. I can then play the whole trip back through Google Earth; it is a fun program and a great product that never leaves my camera bag.
The farm has a farm stand and store where they make up old fashioned apple cinnamon donuts as well as cider, cheese, and various other items. They also sell some spinach squares and hot dogs for lunches. They also have candied apples, pumpkin pie, apple pie, kettle corn and other goodies. The area around the store is nice for families to sit and enjoy the day. Overall for a $14.00 bag of apples you get a wonderful day with the family and if you take your camera, many memories for years to come.
This weeks guest appearance is a true story from my husband Steve’s childhood, although he won’t want his family to know as he told me that I am the first person he has ever told this story to – let’s just hope that they are not reading this right now!
When I was a young boy I always used to help out at harvest time. In those days the some of the grain was handled in bulk but some was bagged off the trailer and stored temporarily in bags.
When grain is stored it must be below a certain moisture content otherwise bacteria and moulds can grow and cause the grain to spoil. When it is stored in bags the moisture content can be higher (up to about 18.5%) than when it is in a bulk store or in bins (only up to about 16.3% moisture content). One can get a good idea of the moisture content of grain through experience and biting the grain to see how crunchy it is.
Even so, back in the 1970’s we had an electronic moisture meter to measure this parameter as accuracy is very important. These were precision instruments and very expensive – ours was manufactured by Marconi and was a large grey box with dials and knobs and an elecrically operated needle a bit like a speedometer on a car which would swing in one direction or another depending upon the moisture of the grain.
Before the grain could be tested it must be ground which we did in a mill (that we also used for producing animal feed). After grinding the flour like material was placed into a cell where it was compressed and then the machine would take it’s reading from this compressed flour. The spent flour was emptied back into the sampling scoup and then tossed over the wall into the pig stye, where a lucky pair of fattening pigs would get a treat each time a sample was measured.
I was taught to use the moisture meter from an early age and I was probably only about 8 or 9 years old when I went to test a sample of grain. I completed the test and tossed the spent flour over the wall and into the pig trough to hear a clunking noise as the flour hit the porcelin trough (made from an old drainage pipe, concreted into the pig stye). I had inadvertantly thrown a piece of the moisture meter with the flour over into the pigs! The pigs had immediately jumped up to get their treat and within seconds one of them had this piece of metal in it’s mouth and was chewing it. What to do? I didn’t want the pig to swallow it, nor did I want to chase the pig and for it to drop the piece of metal somewhere in the deep straw where I couldn’t find it. Luckily the pig dropped the metal after what seemed like for ever but was probably only about 10 seconds. The metal wasn’t damaged so I replaced it and said nothing about the incident, that is until right now (about 24 years later). I was always more careful after that day.