Owd Fred

Seventy Years In Farming

heros share

This week’s featured farmer comes all the way from the United Kingdom. I am so glad that Fred emailed me about his farm blog, Owd (Old) Fred, Owd FredCountryman. He has three blogs but will focus on this one here. Fred started writing poems about his farm life memories six years ago. He says the blogs erupted from them. I find it fascinating to read about his farming experiences from a British point of view.

He describes himself:He’s had seventy years in farming, getting a bit long in the tooth, although he’s still got all his own teeth, moving a bit slower, standing a bit shorter, gone grey on top and can see his scalp through thin hair, got no work in him, looked after by his misses too well for his own good, and now got a new arm chair.

1. Tell a little about yourself and farm experience.

I was born in the middle of the Midlands of the UK, and still even now live just a mile and half from where I was born. 

I am second of four children, father was eldest of four, grandfather was one of eight, G. grandfather was youngest of seven, G.G. grandfather was youngest of eight, and my G.G.G. grandfather was born in 1753 all farmers.

Out of the six generations of farmers, I and my father were the only ones to benefit from the use of tractors, we have always milked cows, my father had to help with the hand milking when he was a lad before he went to school every morning, and started his own herd not long after leaving school. In fact he had a Sow with piglets and swapped it for his first cow, when he acquired his first fifteen acres.

After meeting and marrying my mother they moved to farm in the next village on the edge of town where the milk was sold the surplus turned into butter and cheese to sell. He had twenty six cows by then and it was at this farm through the depression of the 1930’s and on up to the World War 2. I was born there in 1938 just at the start of the war, I can just remember mother talking us under the kitchen table when we heard the air raid siren go off in town, it was the humming of a lost German bomber looking for the factory in town that was making and building Tanks for the war effort.

1942 we moved to a larger farm two miles distance, to where we were brought up, and where my youngest brother went on to farm to this day.  I started farming on my own 1960 on a farm half a mile away, again milking cows for the next 26 years then I moved to where I am now on 250 acres, gave up milk in favor of a suckler herd and reared calves for beef, also grew wheat and barley  for sale as cash crops.

I have three children two girls and a boy Matthew, who should have taken over the farm from me by now, but in the greatest tragedy of our lives he was killed twelve years ago. Cannot bring myself to tell any more right now, but that is what got me writing down my memories. It was Matthew who was just getting me onto a computer, and it was his mate and best friend who continued to assist me after his death, on the farm and on the computer, through a very low point in our lives. 

2. What made you want to start blogging?

On thinking back you remember snippets of life, and I got to writing it down, things our parents told us of years ago, even small insignificant thing are magnified now when recorded on paper. My memory is hopeless now, but if I do recall anything and start writing it down it comes flooding back and its remembered for ever in black and white. This I have repeated many times over the last few years and now this last two years got round to blogging.

3. What has been the biggest surprise since you started? or something you didn’t expect:

It has amazed me how many folk take the trouble to read what I’ve writ, and some of the follow up comments, its not about the future but nearly all about the past, and some of the old sayings and ways of doing things that are still relevant in this modern age.

4. What is your favorite post and why?

Fred's Pride & Joy
tractor that I drove new in 1957 & restored

The Longest Swath

I think this is a reflective looking back typical blog; it talks about the hedges and the trees some of which I planted, how modernization has overtaken me, how our parents were so thrifty and what I would call tight with money, because they had survived through the 1930’s, and some of the old hand tool in the shed that I’m too old and not strong enough to use.

5. What do you find most challenging about blogging? How do you overcome the obstacle?

The most challenging thing about blogging is if you set a dead line which you cannot keep to, then that brings on a mental block and cannot think of what to say next. Early mornings are my best time for writing, always used to be up at 5am every morning of my life while milking, and have never lost that habit of an early start. Its very quiet at that time in a mornings and its easier to follow a train of thought for two or three hours. 


Please take some time to read Owd Fred’s Blog. Leave him a comment. I am sure you’ll find his stories as engaging as I did. Thank you, Fred, for contacting me and answering the questions. You can also follow him on twitter: @owdfred

 

  • http://farmandranchcountry.com Bill Graff

    Judi,
    You have really done a good one this time. I really like this post. I wish all the elder statesman in agriculture would do what he is doing. From your lessor half. Thanks,

  • Steve Hall

    Hi, I know Fred – I used to be headteacher at the village school which is next door to Fred’s farm. His writing, whether in the form of his poems or his blogs, is an absolute joy to read as it magically takes you to the very place and the very people about whom Fred writes. He has an incredibly engaging style from which young writers could learn a great deal. He is an inspiration and I recommend his blog and his poems to anyone interested in life as it happened in times gone by, and happens now, in rural England.

    • http://farmnwife.com farmnwife

      Thanks for stopping by, Steve. I completely agree about learning from Fred’s writing style. I think he should look into getting his work published.

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  • http://farmerbillohio.com/drupal7 Bill Huhman

    Thanks, Fred, for allowing us to learn what life was like a few years ago. And thanks, Judi, for your hard work collecting the best of the best. — Bill