The farming column with Sam Walton

Massive machines have replaced horses on the farm.
Massive machines have replaced horses on the farm.

Driffield Show just has to be the best one day show in the UK. It seems to grow each year and to get around it all takes longer than ever.

The first thing I saw on arrival was the judging of those magnificent animals the shire horses. It reminded me that we used to farm with them before mechanisation came about and we somehow managed.

Of course farming was different then, the crop rotation meant more Spring work as we needed the frosts to break down the soil to trail harrows over it before we could sow crops.

When tractors came into being there was more output per day from a man, and when rotavators and subsoilers came onto the scene, that caused a revolution. Of course we had no powered machinery with horses and certainly no sprayers during the horse reign, as the work would be done by hand which is why farms employed so many men.

On many farms an operation called “looking” in the East Riding meant that men walked through the crops looking for weeds and then hoed them out.

Depending on the amount and type of weed would dictate how many acres a day a man would cover and the answer invariably was not many and it could only be done in fine weather. At one time the farmer’s wife or maybe the foreman’s wife would make a flask of tea, sandwiches, bake scone, or buns and that would be taken out to the men morning and afternoon and certainly on threshing days.

It was called “luance” which was cross between lunch and allowance. I am not sure just after the war if there was an actual allowance given for men on farms to be able to produce food for the nation.

We certainly do that today without any allowances and the last couple of years on the arable milk and pig side have not been at all good. Fortunately this year prices are better but they need to be to buy the monster equipment we seem to need today and which was apparent at Driffield Show.