Working on a dairy farm by Belle Dicks

Mixed Dairy farm, South Molton in North Devon

“I was living at home in North London and had left school with four o’levels and one A’Level. I needed practical experience to be accepted for an agricultural farm placement. I wanted to live and work animals, but with no experience I had to apply for a farm pupil job. I was interviewed with my mother and was shown round the farm and house as I was to be living in with the farmer and his family. I was given £1 a week and my keep and 1 1/2 days off but I agree that I’d save my day off for six weeks and then come home to London on the tram for a week (train fare was £3 return). Half day was after one on Saturday but back in time for milking at 6 p.m.

Working day
I worked from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. everyday except Saturday which was my half day. We had a good cooked breakfast after milking at about 9 a.m. We had to get the churns up the road end which was about a mile away in time for the milk lorries collection. All the milk went to Ambrosia Creamed Rice Factory in Taunton. About 10 p.m. The hens and pigs were fed and eggs collected, carried pails of water to three deep litter hen houses. Dinner was usually about One to two, then there was all the other jobs to be done- i.e. moving the electric fence to stripe graze the kale (I hated this job). In the winter we had a couple of days thrashing the corn,  neighbours came and helped and then we went to their farm. In return,we had to prepare a lot of food to feed everybody and it was very hard work carrying the threshed corn up steps to the loft for storage. The sacks weighed 2 1/2 cwt(hundred weight) each. Another of the jobs was starting the generator for the
only electricity we had and needed it for milking in the new milking parlour.

Tilly lamps Indoor we had tilly lamps and candles upstairs and at bedtime the “Genny” was switched off at 10 p.m. I also had to hand pump water up to tank from the well outside the kitchen door, which took a while. The first time I didn’t pump fast enough to get it into the tank. I was soon put right on that job! Then it was getting the cows in for milking at 6 p.m. Wash and clean up the dairy and milking parlour, then it was tea-time about 7 p.m. Evening was spent listening to the radio and cleaning eggs. By the time I’d been there three months and had a hard set of callouses across the palms of my hands and endured a very steep learning curve.”

Belle Dicks submitted her memory on a downloaded form from the website

Additional Information

History of AmbrosiaAmbrosia of Old 

The brain child of an English businessman, with the help of an American and the landlord of The Arundell Arms, Ambrosia came into being back in 1917.

Grace's guide British Industrial History Ambrosia Rice Pudding Factory
Grace’ Industrial History Site
Ambrosia Rice Pudding
 is a well known brand in the United Kingdom. Its original product was a dried milk powder for infants, but it is most famous for its custard and rice pudding.

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