Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday; 21st March

Well what to talk about today, can I  hold out for the week, heaven knows..... I have talked about my upbringing and how it was different to most families, though who can tell. As I have said before come holidays, we as children would be sent off, whether to wander the chines of Bournemouth, or the wilds of Wales.  But there was another farm I was sent to, in Colton by Cannock Chase.
Few weeks back I was looking for this farm but no luck, it was a large old farmhouse, opposite was a yard with buildings all round.  A mixed farm, a child's delight but of course dangerous with its large animals.
Yesterday we were talking over coffee how children were subject to all sort of rules and how safety and health loom ever large in our lives, compared to the childish free run of the world we lived in; there was no talk of paedophiles and drugs, of course they must have existed but the media had not caught up with them yet.
It was here at the farm in Colton I learnt that you killed a chicken by pulling its neck, and then donning an apron plucked its downy feathers, watching in fascination the little red mites that were on the body, and then gutted it before it was roasted and served with onion sauce and bread sauce. Seamlessly I had learnt  that you had to kill if you wanted to eat meat, something my grandchildren will not  see as the chickens are already vacuumed and plastic wrapped in the supermarket.  
The farm was wonderful, looking out of the bedroom window and you could see all the activity in the yard, there were four sons, big strong lads, except the fourth was, what you would call in those days a 'village idiot', the last born maybe.  He often played tricks on us children, mostly cruel and bordering on dangerous but I shall get to that later.  
In the yard the prize show bulls were exercised, they were kept in the buildings, but exercising the bulls was a time to stay indoors and watch from the safety of the window.  Great black creatures with rings through their noses, haltered, with three men holding tight, one on the tail, they would lead the men a merry dance, at last the men would be pulled in a great tug of war out of the yard and up to the large shed which housed the heifers.  
There was a solitary bull, a Hereford I think, tethered in one of the fields and when I passed him, I felt his loneliness, so used to go and talk and pet him, till of course I was found out and given a thorough telling off and told never ever to go near him.  
Round the back of the buildings was a small triangle yard in which the boar lived in his sty, normally shut up he was occasionally allowed out for exercise into the yard, and because this was a shortcut for us children, we had to watch out if he was free, as he was often hiding round the corner.  I remember once asking our young farmer lad, I shall call him Will,  if the boar was shut up, yes he said, smiling as he lied, so over the gate only to be confronted by the boar, so a very quick sprint over to the  hay bales that reached high in the shed and  a scrabbling up till safety was reached.
Once my grandfather sent us on holiday with the horses, this time it was a friend with her enormous horse called Tiny, and my much smaller Welsh mare.  Will managed to let them out one day with the milking cows, that evil smile on his face as the two creatures trotted down the drive.  We jogged behind them down country lanes for a couple of miles, till by luck a hand cart was coming the opposite way and halted them. 
Another time we had tied the animals to an old five bar gate that lead into the garden,  Will came by, yelled at the horses causing them to rear up and pull the gate up over its hinges and on to my legs, luckily nothing was broken and I presume he must have been told off.
Now imagine that scenario today, you would have all those parasitical solicitors claiming compensation, even if you did not want it.  The poor farmer would be distraught and probably up before the court for running a dangerous farm. We have moved a long way in a direction that may be safer but obviously more boring ,which is really rather sad, society has developed but not for the better in many ways......


  1. I used to live in Lichfield, on the edge of Cannock Chase, Thelma, although I rather think Colton was on the other side of the Chase.
    I do agree about how things have changed though. We all learned to swim in the River Witham, going down after tea every night with our cossies - no adults around - you just got in and practised til you felt ready to push off and try to reach the other side - never remember anyone drowning.

  2. LS always talks of a packet of jam sandwiches and off for the day in his youth, it was surprising how little supervised we were as we wandered the great outdoors ;)