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While watching wartime farm something struck me and has rattled round in my head since, it was them listening to the Neville Chamberlain telling us we were at war with Germany, Ruth said I wonder what they were really thinking. I wrote the story a few years back when the grandchildren did a project at school but made it sound a lot less traumatic than it was.
Too long and off subject for here though I can tell Ruth, it was life changing and a shock to the system seeing my Grandmother and Aunts crying, they remembered the loss of relatives in the first war, and had sons old enough to fight, the men in a panic when the sirens promptly went and the total fear of us children suddenly thrust into a black hole under the stairs with wet towels thrown over our heads.
That day changed many things for me, we had started by picking up my Aunt Uncle and two cousins, we were the only ones with transport and heading off to Grandma's. There it turned sombre as we played and they prepared lunch and talked. We were called in to hear the announcement which was not at eleven as stated but shortly after, then the weeping started but the sirens turned it into a mad house. When the all clear went it took a long time to calm us kids down, we finally had lunch them motored home, life had changed and even us kids knew it. It was not the broadcast then OK lets get on with it as some try to say.


flowering rose

I take your point but with the way we are going we ain't going to feed the ever increasing population.We cant go back to the way we were but with fuel shortages and climate change we might have to think differently how we farm and in port goods to feed an ever hungry world.Anyhow hope you did enjoy the programme.

Shrinking Violet

Even in the 1960s the hangover from the war coloured farming.  It's easy with hindsight to criticise the widespread use of pesticides etc etc, but doing 'O' level and 'A' level Geography, we were still being taught about the "virtues" of intensive agriculture etc and as we learnt about other countries in, for example, the Mediterranean area, we pitied their "backward" farming.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.  But the real fear for the immediate future as experienced by Frank must have been terrible.  I think this series may show some of the difficulties experienced by a country dependent on Commonwealth imports.  I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.


Frank - I have enjoyed your posts so far, it's really good to hear the memories of someone that was actually there rather than relying on the programme to deliver anecdotal evidence of what war-time farming was like. I hope you continue to watch the series and that you carry on posting here as it progresses, giving us your real life insight in to a time I really hope no-one here has to experience again.

Regards, Leigh.

Leigh, did actually enjoy the programme as it brought back so many pleasant memories of the farm our own smallholding and people long gone although immortal as long as they are remembered by some one.
I think apart from five of us being thrust into a black cupboard under the stairs then wet towels thrown over us so we would not suffer from the gas??? my young sister having hysterics and us four boys not doing much better we thought our end had come.
Some papers had said if Germany declared war they would send a mass of planes to bomb us flat and we were on the coast so to our parents first in line, as the sirens went they put it all together and panic set in. We now know why the sirens went  but at the time it all added up to armageddon, not just for us but most of the coastal towns.
The wet towels as we sat there yelling, cold water dripping off us aparently saved you from breathing in gas if it was dropped, with hind sight that too was a myth, they had to find dry clothes for all of us when they finally calmed the five of us down, I do not think my sister ever got over it.
I can say I was never that frightened again, ever.




I can't imagine how frightening that must have been especially with speculation in the media about the German's capabilities. My family are largely from dockyard stock, all working and living around Chatham Dockyard at the out-break of war. Sadly though pretty much all of my relatives who lived through those times have since passed on, before I was old enough to ask any significant questions about what it was like or having any real understanding of what war actually was.

It's interesting to hear how those times affected normal people in their everyday lives and how they coped with things that seem so alien to us today.




chilli lover

My step-daughter works at Manor Park and Country Farm where this is being filmed. She says there's also a website where you can get background information on the series, the presenters, a sneak preview of the book, and even share your own wartime stories...

Shrinking Violet

Watched it and found it fascinating again. 

I knew about hay-box cooking, but prefer the convenience of my slow cooker .  But it all brings home to us just how tough things were - and this representation is at the beginning of the war, before things got even harder.

And I have learnt just how the rationing of meat worked.  I'd never given it much thought - hadn't considered all the actual administration by the butcher, so it was a surprise to learn that it was done on price rather than weight.  It makes sense, really, but it had never occurred to me that that would be the mechanism for rationing. 

Oh, and do I presume that they've just given farmers a way to remove the dye from red diesel so it can be used on the road???  Though maybe it's a different dye, and bread filtering doesn't work with modern diesel  

Hello Posh, indeed it is fascinating to be taken back and the Army used hay boxes in the field even in modern times.  There was no need for the Paraffin cooker as the farmhouse kitchen range never went out and the side oven would be used for long cook one pot meals.
Silage was not something done around us as we had plenty of hay and the whole village turned out to help to bring it in and stack it, the top would then be thatched..We never lost the sheep or pigs, picking the apple crop could be hazardous when the sheep and pigs were let in the orchard for the windfalls.
Dad kept a couple of pigs for the pig club among our own, they did bring waste for me to boil in the pig boiler along with potato's root veg and anything else we had spare from the fields. Having the truck he also picked up the waste jam and curd from the jam factory and waste cake and bread from the local bakery, add to that an allowance of corn meal plus more from the farm and those pigs lived on the best. He would not have fish-meal which many used nor would he use bone or meat products. Part of my job was to sort what people brought and what we did not want went into a bin and off to the National waste recovery at Darlington, other pig owner got it after it had been boiled down into a sort of block.
WI could get the sugar for bottling and jam making from hedge row fruits which we all picked in season although all the women who were not working in the village would join in, never saw one of those canners but now realise why everything came in seven pound cans in the army, that must have been the regular can size for the machine.
Of course trading went on all the time we all did it you just did not talk to strangers about it, my Father could get all the petrol he needed having an "A" licence for the truck and he was asked and they got a very short answer usually ending in off. He was a dead straight bat that did not always go for his son.


Frank, it is really interesting to read your posts alongside the programmes. I have always watched these recreation projects with the thought that they can only present a partial view  of what it was actually like to Iive through the times.I hope you will continue to post as the series progresses  


Jellyjam wrote (see)

Frank, it is really interesting to read your posts alongside the programmes. I have always watched these recreation projects with the thought that they can only present a partial view  of what it was actually like to Iive through the times.I hope you will continue to post as the series progresses  


Jellyjam We found that out with the other programmes Edwardian and Victorian Farm, they can only represent facets. At least this time they are not making blatant mistakes it is far better researched.
There were reams of paper dished out to any one producing food of any sort which in a country area would be most, rules are meant to be broken or in Dad's case slightly dented, when Mother late for her war-work took the Austen chummy car after making me start it (a bit like the one on the show only a two seater) she who had no licence and as far as I knew no lessons got herself in trouble. When the local Bobby duly arrived he and Dad had a long talk up the garden they came back and Mum was told do not do that again as he left with a large packet of Bacon in his pocket. Even a dead straight bat played off the side at times.
I will comment on what I know though it would appear different parts of the country reacted in different ways to suit their needs.
Ruth's stew looked good to me with some some freshly made farm bread.


(In case Frank & DK think I've not seen any of the programmes!)  -   I finally got around to watching Episode 1 on i-player last night, after I'd seen the second episode.  As Frank says, it looks as though they've done a bit more research this time - though (to me at least) there are  still mistakes which make me want to throw something at the TV - part of the script last night seemed (I thought) to infer that barley had been more commonly used for bread-making than wheat.  I don't think that's the case.  The sileage-making attempt was dire..........people would have been much more likely to try to line a pit/clamp with the corrugated iron rather than stand it on top of the ground - and as for how they pitchforked the greenstuff into it - about passing the furniture in through a window whilst the front door's open.......................  I see that Ruth still can't find the nailbrush - and she hasn't looked at any of the ample film footage of the war years in order to learn how to tie & wear what we called "a turban".  I agree with Frank when he says that the kitchen range wouldn't have gone out, so there'd have been no need for the paraffin stove in a farm kitchen.  Portable paraffin room heaters for elsewhere in the house maybe....

I suppose they had fun trying to make that mole plough - but I'd like to have seen what the blacksmith's own version would have been.  Without some sort of brace + a whole lot more weight it was never going to work, was it?  Considering this was supposed to be the early part of the war and farmers wouldn't yet have got used to having The Land Army around (and therefore seeing women doing things on the farm that were always hitherto considered "Men's Work") I was surprised to see Ruth driving the tractor at this stage of the series. 

I suppose I'd have to say "improved, but could do better" if you asked me how I thought the two programmes so far compare with the previous series - but it does irritate me when I see things in the background that I know weren't around then - that coach-built pram was much later than 1940 I reckon, ditto the sort of hay-bale I saw one chap carrying. 

Frank's version of how things really were is, as always, well worth reading.  Thanks, Frank!

Hello Ma, wondered where you were.
We have to make allowances as they try to generalise what was quite a varied often totally different trade as you moved from County to County. We moved from Hill farming sheep to Dairy farming on land that a couple of feet down would have produced brick clay to a General farm, each was a different technique and set up.
The we being my Mothers very close Aunt and Uncle, I spent a lot of time on those farms learning the hard way.
Our own smallholding could have been called a small farm and we all had to work at our own jobs from being able to hold a fork and muck out, you are right about that the handling compared with the land girls slinging hay onto the waggon was a bit diabolical.
In this part of the country you could get oat cakes and some went into Linseed oil cattle cake, some would go to the malting's.
We should allow for some things differing and cannot expect them to handle the tools they did not grow up with, tea tonight was a hot pot, Ruth must have put her fluence on me last night, it was slow cooked and delicious, the sliced potato on top well coated with butter done to a turn, what are we having next week Ruth?


Watched One Man and his Dog last night, the other half is on tonight, it used to run over several weeks but I suppose it is a niche sport. The sheep were a right bolshy lot one ewe faced down the dog and stamped her foot, the body language was "watch it mate" and they could not get them to flow, we will see what happens tonight then.
Ma, for some reason it brought back memories of the Creamery at the Farm, Aunt Mabel made all her own cream and butter and the vision of that cool room half tiled with the long bench of flat bowls of cream with muslin cages over them was quite vivid for some reason. It reminded me of the buttermilk that went into the cooking when all the women filled the kitchen with bread scones and cakes during Harvest and other get togethers, I preferred the milk straight from the churn full fat and creamy, oh and warm.
Funny such bright memories yet? yet, "err" what day is it?



I thought last nights show was “Arts and crafts” plus Strictly come dancing badly. Wartime farming was hardly mentioned apart from “tackin tauld sow t boar”, we did that. As for tile making we had one of the biggest tile and brick makers in the country less than five miles away, they were in full production all the war and after leaving massive holes in the country side digging the clay.

The bit that upset me and brought back memories long suppressed was the “Evacuee story” Ruth making bed frames and Huts turned into dormitories may have happened in the South where the City's took a pasting up North no. and nobody asked the kids.

My Sister and I were what was known as paid for evacuees, Mother and Father went into the countryside and found someone willing to take us for money and there by hangs a tale which I will write and post on here if it is of interest to anyone.




Yes Frank I would be very interested. I was born at the end of the war so have no recollection of war time, I only know what I have been told by my parents, grandparents and what I have learnt from books, tv etc. I wish I had asked more questions at the time when I could have got personal answers.Too late now, as my Mum is 99 and can remember some things but gets a bit confused, she is the only family member who is still with us that lived as an adult through the war..

I didn't realise we imported so much food, I wonder what the percentage of imports is now?