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Elphinstone Kist   Folk-History, Work, Place

Life on a Keith Fairm     by: Gerrie, Margaret

I wis born in 1925 in Grange, brocht up wi ma granny an granda. Ma granny wis stoot kyne, an she'd her hair deen up at the back, wippit roon wi preens pitten through. I left schule fin I wis 14 an I wirked on the fairm an did aathing. I fed the beasts, mucked the byre, an milkit the coos. It wis a cattle fairm, a fifty acre fairm, wi 14 beasts. We'd fower coos that we milkit, an we hand fed wir calfs, nae sooklin calves.We'd ay plenty o milk.

Fin I wis young I'd brose in the mornin an ay the tap o the milk, an tea an toast efter that. An at dennertime we'd hae haen soup o some kyne, an at nicht we'd porridge an a byled egg efter it. On Sunday, we'd aye broth. At nicht, we aye gid awa tae wir beds at the back o nine o clock. I read for lang enough efter I gid tae ma bed. Ma granny eesed tae come an pit oot the paraffin lamp...there wis nae electric! Fyles, ither fairmers wid come in aboot an ye'd hae a game o cards or draughts an passed the evenin like that. We didna get a wireless till 1939....there wisna onybody roon wi us hid a wireless till that time. My granny likit the Gaelic singin on't ..the tunes, ye ken.

At Hogmanay twis maistly on New Year's day that the fairmers visited. An we eesed tae hae a lot o snaa! There wis nae cars fin I wis young. Postie gid on a bike, an the maist o the fairms hid horses. We'd twa, Rosie an Mysie. I myne there wis ae time ma granfaither wis nae weel, an I hid tae feed them. Oh, they were spylt! In the wintertime fin they wirna wirkin, ma granfaither wid hae teen them oot fur a walk an I'd hae gotten ontae their backs. An I cud hardly get ma legs stretched ower, cause they're broad, ye ken. I sat barebacked, wi ma neives beeriet in their manes. I'd bin aboot ten year auld at that time.

We'd a swey fur cookin, an the lum hid tae be swept noo an again, bit I didna dee that! Puckles o vans come roon the kintraside...on Monday, a grocer's, a baker on Tuesday, grocer's van again on Thursday an a baker on Setterday..an we'd the shoppie jist across frae the school that wis the post office anna.We bakit wir ain oatcakes, scones an pancakes on the girdle ower the open fire, an we made wir ain kebbucks o cheese an keepit them in the milkhoose. The milkhoose didna get the sun verra muckle..doon three steps it wis, ontae a cement fleer wi lots o shelves. An we made raspberry, blackcurrant an rhubarb jam, fur we'd a great big gairden. Ye jist pulled the berries fin they come ready, tae makk intae jam or tarts. There wis a patch we kept fur early tatties afore the eens wis ready in the park, an we grew size tae steer in wi the chappit tatties.

The coos aa hid names..Janet an Bessy an Rosie. Eence, fin I wis gaun tae a daunce, een o ma pals come in aboot for's.
'Och,' she says, 'I'll pit on an apron an help ye tae milk the coos.'
An the coo wadna let doon her milk for her! Thrawn did ye say! ...I cud hae geen oot in the dark tho an milkit them an jist sitten doon. They'd hae lookit roon an gien me a lick, ye ken. I fyles muckit the byre. It wis muckit mornin, dennertime an nicht. The coos aye got clean strae in aboot tae them, they were weel lookit efter. The coo wis teen tae the bull, we didna hae een on the place, an I wis chased frae the byre fin there wis a caffin.

We grew corn an neeps, an I eesed tae howe. I didna care muckle for the howe...ay a great lang dreel, oh I thocht I'd niver get till the eyn o it. I likit wirkin ootside, tho it wis dreich fin it rained. Ma granda haun scythed the corn, an I come ahin an gaithered it an made the shaves an stookit them. If the corn wis richt ripe it didna need lang tae dry. Noo, ye jist see parks o rolled bales. It cudna taste sae fine fur the beasts ye widna think..

We hid a watter mill that we threshed the maist o oor corn wi, bit comin on tae spring, fin ye'd a twa three rucks left, we got the threshin mill in. We'd a good lot o cats, sae we hidna mony rats. I've seen fin the mill wis roon an there'd bin a rat or twa, they made fur the watter ye see, cause we'd a dam jist aside the corn yard. Bit this ae cat, Trixie, dashed efter them an got them! We'd jist ae hen hoose, within the close. Aa the biggins wis richt roon it.There wis Rhode Island hens, an we'd Sussex hens...the white eens wi the black bits on the neck..speckly kinno eens, an twa, three cocks.

It wis early mornins in yon days...we wis up afore six. I put on the fire...we'd a coal fire... an gid oot an milkit the coos. I'd mair tae dee cause ma granny wis blin. She'd cataract. Bit in 1941 she went tae Western General in Edinburgh an got them deen. That wis the first time we'd heard o't roon oor wye. Times change, richt enough. Fin I wis wee, there wis scarlet fever at the schule an they hid tae close it a whylie. I didna get it tho!



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