Life in the past was very different to what it is today. The country was poor but we being children didn’t know that, we were born into it and to us it was normal and we were happy and carefree. Born into a farm with all the excitement of farm life, something new happening every day. Children had to help with the chores, no such thing as pocket money we never heard of it, our parents were kind and good and hardworking. Money was scarce but there was always enough to pay the rent and rates, there was no other major outlay.
The tobacco was Ruddels Twist, Mick McQuaid and Clarkes Plug
They tilled the land and the crops provided food for the household and the animals – the pigs and the fowl. The eggs were sold in the local shop and the money bought the small amount of groceries that were needed, like tea sugar candles, paraffin oil, tobacco etc. The tobacco was Ruddels Twist, Mick McQuaid and Clarkes Plug. My father smoked Ruddels Twist. We called the woman of the shop “the shop woman”. Sometimes we would get a penny worth of sweets. I was always amazed at the way the shop woman could make a cone shaped bag out of a piece of paper by winding it around her fingers and putting a twist at the end of it so the sweets would not fall out. I tried to make one many times but never succeeded.
The nettles were collected around the haggard
Children did jobs like collecting the eggs from the hen house , closing in the hens and ducks in the evening and searching for the hen’s nest when they would lay out in the ditch. Sometimes you wouldn’t find them. Then one morning the mother hen would be outside the door with her flock of little chicks looking for food. They would be brought into the kitchen and pinhead oatmeal would be sprinkled on the concrete floor. The hen would break up the grains with her bill and teach the chicks how to pick – much to the delight of us children. The reason for bringing them indoors is the other chicks would eat their meal. The breeds of hens were rhode island red, white leg horn, white winedots, light sussex and black minorca. Then there was the turkey – they were harder to rear. The turkey chicks were fed on boiled nettles and oatmeal mixed. The nettles were collected around the haggard. You put a wollen sock on your hand and pulled it up on your arm, cut the nettles with a knife and filled a big 10 stone canvas bag and if there wasnt enough in your haggard you went into the neighbour’s. The nettles were boiled in a pot over the fire but when they boiled down you had a very small amount. That was mixed with oatmeal and the little turkey chicks would eat it out of your hand. The turkeys were american bronze – no white turkeys then. Late on came the broilers – they were easily fattened. Specially bred for the dinner table. They were produced by Elmbank hatchery and delivered as day old chicks. They were sent down the country by passenger bus in square cardboard boxes with holes for ventilation. They never stopped screeching because they were hungry and cold. I don’t know why the passengers didn’t object. I would pick them up at the local bus stop and bring them home on the carrier of the bycle . I used to feel so sorry for them – little tiny balls of yellow fluff. They were then put into a box with an infra red lamp – we had rural electrification by then