Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A little village farming history

Lambs were born in Cookham Dean.

September 29, the feast of St. Michael and All Angels or Michaelmas fell about the time of the autumnal equinox. The equinox marked the period when the nights would be getting longer and the earth would begin to die. It would be also the time when farm workers would change jobs as their skills would have been recognized at the various farm shows and it would be a chance for him to renegotiate with his employer, or to find a new post to benefit himself and his family. A second time of change was on Lady Day. The 25th of March, which like Michaelmas was at the point in the season in solar calendar of the vernal equinox, and the time of new life.

This was not a period of great change on the farm, but was at time before the seasonal work of spring sowing and cultivations got under way. Also it was the period when the day and night in the English countryside were equal.

The water meadows of which there were a great many in Cookham, would start to drain from the rivers winter high water and the first flush of good spring grass for the milking cattle would appear. With it of course this first of the young lambs would arrive.

The Copas family at one time had quite a large flock of sheep, and it was always fun to go up Terry's Lane to see the young lambs gamboling around in the pasture.

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