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Mr Zummerset Comes Home Part 3

by Robin Wale

Leaving Brymore School, after being a boarder for 4 years, I was looking forward to the thought of coming home and working with my Dad on the farm. That did not last for very long as it soon became apparent that Dad had other ideas. In no time at all I was off to Evercreech for a interview with Stan Corp and his sister, May, who owned Church Farm with their mother.

It was quickly agreed, that I would start working there on the following Monday. Accommodation was available in the village lodging with a elderly couple in a little terrace cottage. I would be the eighteenth single young man that they had taken in.

Monday came, my case packed and Dad had bought me a little 50 cc James Cadet motor bike so that I could come home for lunch on a Sunday – but I had to be back for milking at 4 o'clock.

Settling in, I soon got into a routine of milking the 60/70 cows and feeding the 15 sows plus any of the litters that they were rearing, and I would walk back to a nice cooked breakfast. I'd often listen to the amusing stories told to me by Bill Lintern, a local landlord, who grew up with Acker Bilk. They spent many hours together in the pub at Pensford, the village where Bilk was born and later retired to.

As time progressed I was given the job of taking the churns of milk up to the factory using the tractor and trailer. It was here that I learned of the competitive nature of farmers. When I arrived back at the farm with empty churns I was scrutinised about neighbouring farmers. How many churns they had delivered? Whatever figure I said, the reply would be; "Ah yes, but were they all full?" That would remain with me for the rest of my career.

One of the jobs that I never looked forward to was putting rings into the sows. This was done annually by pushing a sharp instrument into the snout and making a hole to thread a piece of wire through. The noise was unbearable and I am sure the whole village could hear! I was continually told that the pig never felt it. Happily modern methods are much better.

Every week I use to give my landlady £2 to put in the post office. She said I was the best little saver she ever had. To supplement my income I took on cutting the grass in the cemetery, which gave me a lot of satisfaction.

As I was approaching nearly a year of employment at the farm and really enjoying it, feeling part of the family and relishing the responsibility that the farmer had given me, my father rang with a conversation that was going to change my life again.

Read more of Robin's Somerset life here
Remember Acker Bilk?

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