Monday, August 16, 2010

The way we were

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An interesting day out yesterday with Harry and Sam. We went to Acton Scott - which describes itself as 'an historic working farm'. You may remember it as the farm where the BBC's Victorian Farm series was filmed. It's the kind of place I like to visit; history and things to learn, farming and small furry creatures to coo over.

The weather was kind to us and we were treated to a day of sunshine which made traipsing round the various yards, barns, sties and hovels kinder on our rather un-Victorian footwear. Me? I was wearing some dainty French Sole ballerinas.

I'm not sure quite what led up to the opening of Acton Scott as a living museum but I suspect that while on other farms, post war, agriculture galloped along with farmers embracing new techniques in the race to increase yields and productivity, this estate remained firmly set in the past. It's glory days were definitely in the 19th century when I guess it was amongst those forerunners of new methods in mechanisation and husbandry.  It was a bit of a brainwave on somebodies part to recognise that this time capsule was worth preserving - if only to remind us of the way things were.

I sort of remember places like this from my childhood; places where there was a stinking midden (we called it a muck 'eap) in the middle of the yard and a privy a few paces from the scullery door. Cold water, a slop sink, privations. Naming no names, and naming no places I've been there. It's worth noting but not worth revisiting for more than an afternoon. It was never as pretty as this either...there was always an evil chained dog and various rangy cats...

Look at this cool whitewashed dairy and it picturesque paraphernalia. Our childhood milk can was like the one on the left - our childhoods' a daily pattern of taking it down the hill to the dairy, leaving it on the slab and later, after some prompting or nagging picking it up, full, to bring it home again.












Little pigs - Tamworths - were curious and cute:













...and for these suckling pigs this is porcine heaven - mum looks blissed out too. Bless.
Finally a gratuitous pizza picture. We fired up the pizza oven and cooked up a feast. Don't you love the one in the shape of a heart? We did.

14 comments:

elizabethm said...

I remember the milk cans too and the evil dogs and the muck heap! It was beautiful too in its way and I must go to Acton as I watched Victorian Farm all the way through, partly for the redoubtable cheerfulness of the lady historian in the print dress!

Pondside said...

I watched Victoria Farm over here, as well. When I was a child, living in post-war Germany I remember many farms that were as described - but clean, clean, clean.

Wipso said...

I have very happy memories of a farm rather like that. Of the milking parlour with the cows names above each section [and I understand they are still there]. This one was clean if but basic and contained a lot of love through all the hard labour of managing it. Thanks for bringing back the memories.
A x

Fennie said...

I grew up on a rather haphazard pig farm so this is familiar - certainly the muck heaps and boiling swill, the cats and dogs, though ours weren't chained, the richness and variety of all the animal smells, the universality of mud and damp and cold in the winter, the straw ricks and the hessian sacks of barley or bran, the buckets, endless buckets of water or feed, the endless washing down with Jeyes fluid and the back-breaking heaving of mucking out and wheel-barrowing away, the dawn to dusk work - striving to finish a job in the gathering darkness. Milk, I always remember in bottles but it did have cream (yeah!) that floated to the top and holes in the caps made by blue tits.

rachel said...

I didn't live like that at all, and can't imagine how anyone who did managed to stay clean (my mother's obsession)! Even a visit to a farm would have been an eye-opener to me as a child.

mountainear said...

I'm keenly aware of the sheer hard graft and drudgery - like you Fennie - that farm and house work, involved pre-mechanisation.

I often wonder if we are presented with too sanitised a version of the past?

Twiglet said...

Yes, we spent a magical afternoon at Acton Scott last year - our visitors were delighted with their trip out. We followed it up, the following day, with a visit to Stokesay Castle. We are so lucky to have such wonderfully cared for historical sites in Shropshire!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Still called a "muck eap" round here. I loved Victorian Farm too.

CJ xx

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

A city child , I only saw the country on summer Saturdays , when I'd sit on my father's crossbar and we'd take a picnic to the hills outside Glasgow .
The first time I saw a farmyard , I was very disillusioned . Chickens weren't covered in yellow fluff like the ones in library books .

Nikki-ann said...

I keep meaning to go to Acton Scott, especially as my grandparents live just down the road from there. I also want to go to Blists Hill etc in Ironbridge as I've not been since I was a child.

Diary Farmer said...

It is a good day out at Acton Scott. The trouble is I remember a lot of the machinery at first hand. Dad had various bits if 'kit' which were once horse drawn converted to tractor power. In my early farming career I worked on a farm near Chorleywood where they fed the out-wintered cattle with a pony and trap. The pony was not always very cooperative when he had his harness put on. If Gordon Ramsey's bleeping machine had been available, my colleague would have put it to good use!!

Fred said...

I, too, can be gooey eyed over the sanitised version of our agricultural past, but then I remember the non sanitised version I grew up with. I loathe dairy farms, and milk, to this day.

her at home said...

Yep lovely but pure fiction when it comes to the way that farm life really was.

Pam said...

Ahh yes, childhood memories of every farm in my village contains the fear of the bloody farm dog galloping out to chase me on my bike.
I used to love visiting farms like this and seeing the walled gardens and veggie plots. I'd like to see them again, if nothing else I'd like to really see how to create the espalier fruit bushes