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- 06 December 2005
I was 18 and living at home. As my father was a herdsman on a farm in Staffordshire and I helped out, it was suggested that I should join the Land Army. So that's what I did. I had to go and have a medical, then I had to be interviewed, and I was fortunate that I was able to stay at the farm where my father worked. I was helping in the fields to start with, then, when the girl who worked in the yard milking the cows and caring for the calves left, I was volunteered to take her place.
Now. Memories. there is one that I remember from when my father was taken ill and I had to go down and feed the cows for the first time. This was something my father always did while I helped with the milking and the cattle feed that was given to them depended on the amount of milk they produced. They were a herd of Ayrshire - beautiful cattle -and in those days they kept their horns. Now
the bailiff was a stern man and I don't think he had a lot of time for Land Girls, although we worked as hard as anyone else. So I was determined to feed those cattle without showing that I was rather nervous doing it on my own. There is a first time for anything and I managed it.
Another memory I have is of when we had to go with the cattle up a track and across a field with a sand-hole in it, up into another which was on a bank and I could stand and look over the fields on a beautiful summer morning or afternoon. I could look over part of the village and the fields and I used to think I would remember it for the rest of my life; which i have done. Those five years on the farm were wonderful, harvesting corn, hay, potatoes and we were able to have extra rations of tea, margarine, cheese and sugar which were always useful.
During those years we had some dreadful winters, up to our knees in snow, pipes frozen and the cattle had to be kept in, so there was a great deal of extra work around the sheds for us to do. Fortunately, the yards were concrete and not mud like some of the older small farms, so we were able to cut paths through the snow.
We also had to wash all the cans as we had milking machines and we were visited regularly by inspectors. They took samples of the milk to see that it was clean and to measure the cream content. We were fortunate that our cream content was always good and our milk clean.
For about three years I was the only Land Girl and I got on alright with the other farm hands, although I didn't see a great deal of them. There were a couple of mature ladies who also used to help out at doing odd jobs.
I was up at 6am or before to do the early milking and feed the calves. Sometimes I had about ten to fifteen calves to feed and, like always, there were greedy ones and finicky ones and the young ones who were pushed out. You often hear people say about farm animals in general 'oh they are all the same', but they are not you know. Each one is unique and like humans, you can tell each one is different by their colouring and their temperament, even sheep. A shepherd can always tell each one of his sheep.
In spite of the hard work or the long hours at harvest time, especially when you were trying to beat the weather, it was rewarding work. I enjoyed it even though I spent my schooldays in a busy city. I loved the country and I still do - I wouldn't like to live in a town for all the gold in the world.
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