Those long, hot, lazy days of School Summer Holidays
Danny Jeakins and I found a job on a farm, harvesting, in the school Summer Holidays. As I remember, we went for two consecutive years, about 1953-54. We used to bike to the farm, so I guess it wasn’t too far away from Kings Road. The farmer was dead, his wife still alive and running the farm, at the time. The first year, the Foreman named Sid was in charge, but the second, there was a Manager there. I cannot remember his name, so he could not have created much of an impression on me! There was another old boy there, Jack, a general labourer. Danny and I were taught to drive the Fordson Major tractors on the farm. These were started up on petrol, then switched over to Paraffin, or TVO, when the engine had warmed up. I remember, one had to switch back to petrol before turning off the engine, or it wouldn’t start without draining the carb. We got a good telling off if found to be the guilty person who had not completed this procedure.
We spent the day loading sheaves of corn (now called wheat) onto a trailer, then carting them to the stack. This was just before the Combine Harvester came into general use, though I believe there were some about. Sid would be up on the stack, with another casual labourer. Sid did the stacking, whilst his mate pitched the sheaves to him from the front of the stack where we were unloading the trailer.
Jack, Danny and I were out on the field, loading the trailer. Jack was usually on the trailer, whilst Danny and I took it in turn, one to fork the sheaves to Jack, the other on the trusty old Fordson. As we got more proficient, we swopped with Jack, giving him a rest, whilst us two boys tried to make a decent load on the trailer, without losing half of it on the way across the field to the stack.