Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Stables & Barn

Stables and Barn.
In the early years of the farm's operation under the Astor ownership, quite a number of horse teams were in use. At one time there were at least six plough teams, plus a number of single shire horses used for general carting, and by the cowman for hauling concentrate through to the cattle and the single horse cattle wagon, used in the moving of cows that were close to the calving.
The carter's day started at 5 AM, when in summertime they would bring the horses in from overnight pasture at Widbrook Farm. They would then feed them with a breakfast of rolled oats while they groomed and harnessed them, checking of course to make sure that they would not cast a shoe during the day. Then they would have their own breakfast. Those carters that lived on the farm went home for their breakfast; while those that lived in the village and up in Cookham Rise had their breakfast in the small tack room, which was part of the stables. Lunches were always taken out in the field, where the horses would have a nosebag of chaff and rolled oats mixed. If there was a water tank in the field horses would have a drink at noon.
Work in the field finished 4 PM for general arable duties, so that the horses could be taken back to the stables for an evening meal, before being turned out to pasture. Only in the worst winter weather did the horses stay in the stables overnight.

Numbers were reduced when the first tractor, an International 10-20, which the Astor's imported from the States. Its first driver was an ex-carter, George Parker, who remained its driver until he retired. The second tractor was an Alice Chalmer's Model B, which arrived again from the States in 1937. The third tractor to join the farm arrived just before the war, again from the States, and International TD-6 caterpillar tractor, together with a Ransome's four furrow plough. This unit cut down ploughing time to a fraction of that work done before. As it could plough 10 acres a day with ease.

Horses remained in use until the end of the Second World War in 1945, when they were eased out with the coming of the Standard Ferguson tractor.

The barn building number 29 was used for general storage use, such as excess dry concentrate feed for the cattle, and also a very dry spot to store Nitro Chalk fertilizer. In later years it was used as a grain drying plant.

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