Milk boy for Bishopmill Dairy by Bill Forsyth

Bill started work in 1937 at the age of 9/10. His Father had heard about the job in his job at the Tile Works. Joseph Farquhar owned Bishopmill Farm, which was the left hand side of the road on the way out of Bishopmill towards Lossiemouth. It was just past the old Moray Poor House site. He worked for the farm’s dairy before school every day of the week. He arrived about 7 a.m. and collected tin cans, which held about 1 pint of pasturised full cream milk. He could hook 5 cans on either side of his bike. He then set off to deliver milk to the local customers. The job carried on through the holidays as well. When the war started Joseph Farquhar’s son, also called Bill was called up. Bill was asked to help with the milk round. Joseph had two milk floats to deliver the milk to his Elgin customers.

Easterton farm Roseisle © Copyright Anne Burgess and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Easterton Farm Roseisle Copyright Anne Burgess Creative Commons Licence

When Bill reached 13 he left school to work for the dairy full-time. He learnt how to control a horse and cart so he could then take one of the carts on local milk deliveries. Two large milk churns were placed in the back of his cart along with a one pint tin jug to dispense the milk from the large cans into whatever the customer had at hand for their milk delivery.The route he took was from Bishopmill along Lesmurdie Road, Kingmills, over the old Bridge to the Cathedral, up King Street, cut across Institution Road, round the Station Hotel and then back to the Dairy. The caretaker at the Cathedral always had two sandwiches ready made with fresh butter and rhubarb jam. One for Bill and one for the horse. No-one had fridges in those days so Bill went on his round every day. When he returned to the dairy he handed back the tin cans for cleaning and put the horse to pasture in the fields around the dairy. Then the cart needed to be tidied up. Next Bill went off to Easterton Farm on Covesea Road to collect the cans of milk for the following day. The milk was processed and pasturised at the dairy ready for the next day’s delivery. Each week Bill handed over his wage to his Mother and received spending money back.

Cattle were also kept on the farm. The dung heap was situated behind the Old Bishopmill School and the smell could be quite strong on some days.

Bill remembered the Old School at Bishopmill had traditional school desks with slates, ink pots and blackboards.

 Memory contributed by Bill Forsyth at the Messages and Memories Event at Elgin Library June 2014

Additional Information

Bishopmill History

nls map referencesLocal Maps of the area
http://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/   Either choose Find by place which allows the user to select specific maps individually e.g. This 1938 (published 1946) map of Elgin shows all the detail of Bishopmill including old and new school, the old town centre roads before the bypass, the gas works etc… http://maps.nls.uk/view/75529911

There are various books which describe Bishopmill and its development including the schools. The History of the Local Area is written about in detail in the New Statistical Account of Scotland. Search by putting Bishopmill in the left hand search box or go to page 98 onwards in the Elgin section of the book.
Bishopmill Google booksMoray Poor House, Bishopmill

http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Morayshire/  The Map of the Moray Poor House on this web page also shows the location of the local primary school on Balmoral Terrace and the farm fields around Bishopmill around 1905. To look at other old maps of the area go to the Useful Links/Scottish Maps page on this website and follow the NLS link.

List of Moray Combination Poorhouse residents in 1881

Working on the family farm by William Stewart Stronach

Maisley Farm Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Geolocation

Maisley Farm

William started working for the family business, Maisley farm nr. Keith at the age of 14  when he left school in 1956. He had been helping since he was a young boy, picking tatties and loading the carts. His grandfather had moved to the farm in 1926. When he died his Mother and Father moved to the farm. The farm had a “chaumer” up a backstair from the kitchen. Stewart slept there on a “caff” bed. His bed had a wooden frame around the edge and inside was placed a canvas-covered mattress filled with the softer outer husks of the oat. When freshly filled it stood at least a foot above the bed frame slowly being compress over time as it was slept on. Sometimes a “caff” bed would be taken out to the stable so that his father could sleep on it if one of his horses was about to give birth to its foal. The Farm’s Clydesdale Horses were  more valuable than the cows and also more becoming stressed in labour.

His Mother would cook soups for dinnertime at midday e.g. broth or tattie served with oatcakes (called “breed” in his family). As the farm did not grow wheat they bought in bread from a Baker’s Van which travelled the area often bartering bread for eggs.

For supper they ate breed, cheese, bread, syrup, boiled beef and chicken. Another meal was “skirlie” served with home-made oatcakes. This is made with oatmeal and onions (see recipe below). The farm had hens, sheep (lambs were sold), cows for milk/crowdie cheese and calves (which were sold on for fattening). Sometimes they ate pheasant which his father would shoot when they came down for the winter. There was no fridge and he remembers the hooks in the ceiling for hanging meat, though his family did not do this.

Crooks Mill source geolocation by Anne Burgess Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Crooks Mill near Keith

Crooksmill Pond The Mill pond and Crooksmill Burn north of Keith source: Geolocation on Share alike licence by Andrew Wood

Crooksmill Mill pond and Crooksmill Burn north of Keith

Farm work

In winter work including pulling turnips putting them into carts (“cairting”). In spring the crops were put into the ground. Stewart remembers the horses ploughing the fields when he was a young boy (in the 1940s) but they were soon replaced by the tractors. The farm grew thinning turnips sketch based on Stewart's descriptionoats and barley. The oats were sent to the nearby Crooks Mill,, just outside Keith. The barley was sent to the grain merchants. Once the turnips were “breering” i.e. their shoots were above the ground then Stewart went along with his hoe and pushed them over. This leaves a single shoot and about a 7″ gap between that turnip shoot and the next turnip shoot.

Like many farms in the area Maisley Farm worked on a seven year crop rotation based around seven fields.

Years 1-3 grass
Year 4-5 oats and barley
Year 6 turnips
Year 7 oats undersown with grass. The oats were harvested above the grass layer leaving the grass and oat stubble. Then the rotation started again the following year.
Events were marked locally by when a field had a particular crop in it. No sprays were used and very little fertiliser. Manure was the main feeder for the soil.

Memory contributed by Stewart Stronach at the Keith County Show 2013 (President of the Show)

Additional Information

Other current interests- The Scottish Simmental Club and President of the Keith County Show 2013

There is a set of images of Crooks Mill, on the Scotlands Places website.

Oat grains source wikicommons 606px-Haverkorrels_Avena_sativa
Oat grain with outer husks

caff” beds– a definition of caff and links to some not always complimentary descriptions of sleeping on a  caff bed. The outer casings of the oat is also part of the group name chaff which also refers to rice, barley and wheat casings. Other definitions of caff-bed

A recipe for “Breed”, a north-east word for oatcakes

“Skirlie”- Stewart’s method of cooking involves putting a bit of fat in a pan, adding chopped onions and then browning them. Next add a handful of coarse oatmeal and stir. The oatmeal cooks in its own steam. You can add a few drops of water to it if the skirlie starts to stick to the pan.