The Last Ploughman in the Village

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John's GraveOn Tuesday, in our little village, we laid a Son of the Soil to rest. I was asked to give a eulogy. It is always difficult but when it is the end of an era it is all the more poignant. I have reproduced some of what I said here, not as some sort of self-promotion, but as a testament to John C…

We are here today not only to say ‘goodbye’ to John, but to mark the end of an era.
Many folk in this modern world would find it unimaginable for somebody to spend their whole life in one place, working on the same farm.
That is what John C. did. He arrived in the village aged 18 months when his father got a job on the neighbouring farm to here with my great-uncle who was the tenant. He left only a few weeks ago when he was overtaken by illness aged 91.
John loathed modernity. He never had need of a passport or used a computer and only considered a phone when his mother became ill.
He was a skilled ploughman and was of that first generation to cross from using horse-power to tractor-power.
He was as much a part of the farm as the ashes, oaks and Hornbeam trees in the woods. He took pride in the local history and surroundings, loving those areas on the farm unseen by most but loved by him.

He was a great story-teller.
Two of his favourites include explosions…

Story One
During the early stages of the Second World War a team arrived with traction engines to plough up a field on the farm that had been pasture since time immemorial. One traction engine was on the headland by the Great Wood and the other on the far side of the field. The plough was winched between the two by steel hawser. To get that bit of extra horsepower the men would tie down the safety valves with string. Both crews would meet for their beaver break (local terminology for mid morning snack) in the middle of the field.
One day a crew, during their beaver break, forgot to untie the string on the safety valve and the resultant explosion was heard for miles.
Thankfully nobody was hurt.
Story Two
During the latter days of the Second World War a V2 rocket landed on the farm. Because it was just over the brow of the hill, the resultant explosion only cracked windows on the cottages and farmhouse. However there were smashed windows over four miles away at Letchworth. You can still see the enormous hole in the hill today.

With much of modern farming, men arrive with massive machines with one aim: To reach the far corner of each field as quickly and efficiently as possible. Computers judge that efficiency by mapping everything from progress to yield. Operators may know the names of the fields and hectarage, but little else. The history and origins of those fields are superfluous to their needs. Without local men on the farm, particularly ploughman, whose progress across the fields was slow, we are losing that detailed knowledge of the land that has been handed-down over the generations.

We are saying goodbye to John today, a man who lived and understood the land that he worked, the whole of his working life was a testament to this green and pleasant land.
That is why this is the end of an era, 

John was ‘The Last Ploughman in the Village’.

© Baldock Bard 2016
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above

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Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: baldockbard@u-boot.co.uk

 

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Birthday Blues

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D&S 70402 4 (1)Ask most fathers about their most memorable moment of wonderment and joy and they’ll bore you into submission about the birth of a child. Thirty-six years ago today I had the first of such amazing days that left me feeling as if I could walk on air. My son David was born in what is now Waitrose in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. What a truly memorable and joyful day.

Today it is a day of tears and loss in our family. the continual disbelief that someone so special could be killed by a drunk driver at the age of twenty-two, some thirteen years ago.
This day now involves a sort of ‘mourning sickness’, a dry physical retching that can strike at random, but most of all on a day like today. But having said all this, we, along with many others, have millions of very happy memories of him that also supercharge our day and add back celebration to a birthday.

So please spare a though for David today by taking time to tell someone you love them. Give someone a call that you haven’t spoken to in a long time or simply smile at a stranger – you never know, it might just make their day special.

Happy Birthday David, love you.
IMG_9512© Baldock Bard 2016
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
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Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: baldockbard@u-boot.co.uk

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Wheat Hotspot Checking!

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HotspotsThe heap of wheat in the barn grows by the day as I transfer more and more from the bins next door where it has been cooling. To a visitor they may look rather like a mountain range, to my granddaughter too! At nearly four-years-old there is fun in everything, especially if it can be climbed and slid down, however she is also checking the grain for hotspots, a most important task…

Three summits of wheat in the big old store,
even pilled to the rafters, there’s room for more!
What’s this I see climbing to the top?
My granddaughter checking hotspots, she won’t stop!
Once she’s checked the temperature and moisture every day,
She slides to the bottom, mixing work with play!

No animals or children were harmed during the monitoring of the heap, both were under strict supervision at all times!

© Baldock Bard 2016
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: baldockbard@u-boot.co.uk

The Baldock Boot Sale
SG7 6RD
is the friendliest bargain bonanza anywhere!
Every Saturday
April – October 2016

With more FREE parking and a field full of bargains!
www.u-boot.co.uk

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Ploughing a Straight Furrow!

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Plough6Yesterday I started ploughing. Now ploughing these days is considered old fashioned as it is expensive on parts and diesel, slow and generally considered to be not needed. However this year we have a lot of trash on the surface following poor weed control and so it is the only alternative available…

No longer does the ploughman follow the plough,
he spends his day in a tractor cab now!
Air-conditioned and air-suspension seat,
a flask of coffee and his day’s complete!
He’s got i-Tunes and Radio 2,
but after some hours the joys of those are few!
So he does what ploughmen used to do,
watch the wildlife and look at the view!

Enjoy your day, boredom isn’t the sole preserve of an office life!

© Baldock Bard 2016
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: baldockbard@u-boot.co.uk

The Baldock Boot Sale
SG7 6RD
is the friendliest bargain bonanza anywhere!
Every Saturday
April – October 2016

With more FREE parking and a field full of bargains!
www.u-boot.co.uk

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The Muggy Night!

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StairsOccasionally, here in the UK, we have a hot sweltering night when it is difficult to sleep. Last night was one of the hottest so far this year and we struggled to sleep in what might have well been a furnace! The temperature at 5:30am was already 16 degrees, bedclothes not needed this night…

Our dog loves the heat,
but not at night,
so sometimes she’ll sneak,
to the stairs,
where, she’ll find comfort,
on the hard but cool,
wooden steps,
as a slight draught,
on it’s way through,
the old house,
fans her,
as she sleeps,
snores,
and dreams,
of ice cream!

© Baldock Bard 2016
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: baldockbard@u-boot.co.uk

The Baldock Boot Sale
SG7 6RD
is the friendliest bargain bonanza anywhere!
Every Saturday
April – October 2016

With more FREE parking and a field full of bargains!
www.u-boot.co.uk

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The Table Turns!

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Euro Medals RioNow the Games are over in Rio it is back to ‘business as normal’. At some stage the post-Brexit talks will begin and our negotiators will have to be in gold-medal form to beat those who would see us marginalised. Perhaps they should put the above aide-memoire into their pockets just to spur them on at vital moments…

When in a negotiating stance,
With Euro nations (including France!)
The Brexiteers must show much care.
As they sit across the table,
Aloof they should be able,
To look across the divide and be aware,
that despite what others say,
If we have our way,
Show we are a nation that is nearly always fair,
But if they come over ‘continental’
and drive us all quite mental,
We should get out this little chart and compare,
How it was down in Rio,
with water sports we show no fear-o!
And thank heavens the dividing Channel is still there!

With congratulations to all our athletes who made us proud and left the door ajar to prove that we might, just might, be a stronger nation now.

© Baldock Bard 2016
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: baldockbard@u-boot.co.uk

The Baldock Boot Sale
SG7 6RD
is the friendliest bargain bonanza anywhere!
Every Saturday
April – October 2016

With more FREE parking and a field full of bargains!
www.u-boot.co.uk

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Keeping Up With The Times!

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Boot PokemonOne of the signs of advanced years is the inability to keep up with modern trends and advances in lifetime skills. I am fast approaching the day when even changing the channel on the TV will be a challenge! I have tried my best to acquaint myself with modernity but I feel I’m falling behind. At last weeks Saturday car boot sale I let myself down badly…

I was chatting to a stall-holder,
when her daughter let out a great scream,
“There’s one standing beside you,
it’s the coolest that I have seen!”
No matter how hard I looked,
I was standing all alone,
I even adjusted my glasses,
nothing to see on my phone!
“It’s a Dowzee standing beside you,
I saw a Venonat there just now,
There are Pokemon all over this field,
you are so yesterday and how!”
I smiled at her mother,
a quizical smile at that,
returned to my ignorant lifestyle,
and looked for a virtual cat!

I have it on good authority that there are Pokemon’s at the Baldock Saturday Car Boot Sale. I cannot guarantee that they’ll still be there this week or if they’ll buy from your stall, I’m only repeating what I’ve been told! Oh, and apparently, a unicorn was seen a couple of weeks ago, not to mention a couple of elves and Father Christmas on holiday… Good Luck in whatever you’re searching for!

© Baldock Bard 2016
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: baldockbard@u-boot.co.uk

The Baldock Boot Sale
SG7 6RD
is the friendliest bargain bonanza anywhere!
Every Saturday
April – October 2016

With more FREE parking and a field full of bargains!
www.u-boot.co.uk

 

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The End is the Beginning!

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Harvest EndThere is a strange lull once harvest is over. The rush and bustle of preceding days is replaced by taking stock, sampling and reflection. However it is not long before the tractors are once again ripping up the ground in preparation for the seed drill to plant next years crop…

Harvest is now over,
all the crops are in the shed,
The fields look somehow empty,
the stubble looks quite dead.
But very soon cultivations,
will commence before the drill,
and once again a fresh new crop,
will be growing on the hill.

Have yourselves a great weekend and don’t forget to take an umbrella!

© Baldock Bard 2016
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: baldockbard@u-boot.co.uk

The Baldock Boot Sale
SG7 6RD
is the friendliest bargain bonanza anywhere!
Every Saturday
April – October 2016

With more FREE parking and a field full of bargains!
www.u-boot.co.uk

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Oats For Sale!

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Canyon OatsThe star of this years harvest has definitely been a small field of Canyon Spring Oats. From just 15 acres we harvested around 50 tonnes, just over 3 tonnes per acre, which for us on our clay soil is amazing. Now we just have to find a market for them. If you’ve room in your cereal cupboard let me know! I’ve written a catchy little jingle to help market them…

Oats, Oats,
Glorious Oats!
Nothing quite like them,
for floating your boats!
For breakfast supreme,
especially with cream,
let us be grateful,
for wonderful oats!

If you’re interested in a lorry-load of wonderful oats, please e-mail Baldock Bard!

© Baldock Bard 2016
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: baldockbard@u-boot.co.uk

The Baldock Boot Sale
SG7 6RD
is the friendliest bargain bonanza anywhere!
Every Saturday
April – October 2016

With more FREE parking and a field full of bargains!
www.u-boot.co.uk

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50 Years On!

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1966to2016We finished harvest last night. While on my way back to the field to collect more beans in the afternoon I parked the JCB and trailer next to the drive. When I returned it’s positioning seemed strangely familiar, so I took a photo. It was then that I realised that it was parked in the same spot as an old black-and-white photo taken 50 years before!

In 1966 the Massey-Fergusson was being driven by my cousin, Bruce, in the trailer (pre-Health and Safety days!) were my brother, Jeremy, and friend James Trollope. The tractor was 65hp, top speed of 17mph and the trailer carried just over 4t of wheat. The farm employed 4 men full-time and a good living could be made from 450 acres.

In 2016 the JCB is 170hp, top speed is 40mph and the trailer carries just over 17t of wheat. Nobody is employed on the farm, a contractor comes in with a giant combine and apparently it takes over 4,000 acres and a good-sized plot of land with planning permission to be a successful farmer!

How times change, but I wouldn’t change it for the world!

© Baldock Bard 2016
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: baldockbard@u-boot.co.uk

The Baldock Boot Sale
SG7 6RD
is the friendliest bargain bonanza anywhere!
Every Saturday
April – October 2016

With more FREE parking and a field full of bargains!
www.u-boot.co.uk

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