Mr Crooks at work in the fields.
Click to hear sound clip of Mr Crooks (b.1915) recorded in 1986. Ref: 939, LO/294/245
Mr Crooks: No, I was a cowman, anything. Cowman, wagonner, general man, hedgecutter and layer, and everything, fencer, gatemaker. I used to like hedge cutting and laying.
Interviewer: You used to enjoy that?
Mr Crooks: Oh lovely. Lovely to cut and lay a hedge and stand back and look at it.
Interviewer: How did you going about doing that?
Mr Crooks: Well you do it with your big axes, you have your big axes and your little ones, and your splashers, and you bleach them down at the bottom, and lay them over, then you stake up and bind up, and it’s marvellous when you’ve finished. Look down the hedge when it’s... I don’t think there’s enough young chaps taking it up, I don’t think they like the six pound axe, heh heh, I think they like a chainsaw. I think a lot of these young chaps could earn a bit of money at it in the winter.
Interviewer: What about ditching, was that the same?
Mr Crooks: Well yes, we done that by hand.
Interviewer: You had special tools for that did you?
Mr Crooks: Well you had your shovels and spades, different types sometime. I was chief stacker and thacker at one time of day.
Interviewer: Do what?
Mr Crooks: I used to do all the stacking and thatching.
Interviewer: That’s when they brought the hay and the corn in?
Mr Crooks: That’s loose, we used to carry all the hay loose, and stack it all loose. Then we’d pull it all round, all round the sides, and then top up, and then thatch it all.
Interviewer: How would you bring it in from the fields? You’d start by mowing it?
Mr Crooks: Yes, mow it, turn it with horses with a turner, we’d got modern turners with horses, and then we’d put it wind row – wind rows down the field, straight rows, and then we’d go in with the wagon. We’d pitch each side, one each side of the wagon, and a loader on.
Interviewer: So it went straight into the wagon, you didn’t put it in little cobs?
Mr Crooks: Built it up, you’d got to load it up.
Interviewer: But you didn’t leave it in little cobs in the field?
Mr Crooks: Well, used to if we’d got time, if we didn’t need.. and then it’d go to the stack, it’d be unloaded, loose, and there’d be two on the stack.. stacker and then they put the stack up and when it settled it’d all be pulled round the outside
Interviewer: How do you mean by pulled?
Mr Crooks: Well you’d got your hands and you’d keep drawing it out the side of the stack until you get that all perfect and it’ll run the water off.