Working on Wardhead Farm in Dufftown by Jean Ramsay

Jean started work at 14 in 1950 as a farm worker. She lived on the farm where her father was a tenant farmer. The farm grew hay, potatoes and turnips. There was also a small herd of 30 cows. The working day started with breakfast at 6 o’clock. This was usually brose, which is dry oatmeal with boiling water and salt added. Sometimes there was porridge. Her work included feeding and cleaning out he hens. The eggs were sold to the local grocer. They were free range eggs as the hens were kept in a shed and allowed to go out if they wished during the day.  Isobel also fed the cattle. She drove the tractors, by then there were no horses doing this work on this farm. Her Father showed her how to put on the equipment. She also did the cooking for everyone as there were no other employees.

When she was 20 she got married to a local young farmer she had met at a young farmers club. There were dances held in Dufftown at the Memorial Hall. Her husband had a croft. They had a large store for potatoes, turnips covered in straw. On bad winters the cattle stayed in the sheds. They made jam from their raspberries and apples. There was a milk house where they made their own butter and cheese.

Memory contributed by Jean Ramsey, Dufftown


James Ross’ work on the farm with a horse plough

James left Banff Academy in 1940 at the age of 15 and the following day went to work on a local farm belonging to Mr Chalmers. He got free accommodation and meals with his job. He started on a six month contract with Sundays as a day off and three days holiday.

Working Day
He had breakfast and then fed the horses by 7 o’clock. He was then given his work for the day. This could be ploughing the fields, harrowing and digging up the potatoes, which are then put into crates.

” If the fields are too wet then they had to wait until it was dry but there was always work to do around the farm. Each farmer worked their own way. My sister, Alexia worked at the same farm with me. She was a skivvy (servant). My brother, Alan was also a farm labourer. We were all born in a Glasgow tenement but our own parents both died when we were young.

Life in the area
There were very few cars. The road had tar on it but there were lots of holes in it and it was very rough. There were many people still using the horse and cart.

Changing Times
Eventually the horses were replaced with tractors and the horses were sent to Belgium. I heard a rumour they were sold for horse meat but I don’t know if that is true.

My brother went into the army in 1939. I also went into the army and did an exchange programme with Canada. Two soldiers came from Britain and two came from Canada. I went to Manitoba. After the war I went back to farm work and worked for Baxters as a chargehand then as a security man at another company before retiring in Buckie.”

Memory contributed by James Ross, Buckie

Additional Information

Horse Ploughing
Click here to see a Horse ploughing film on Scottish Screen onlineWatch a 1955 film of horse ploughing 

The film shows everyday life and work of a Scottish ploughman, shot at Smeaton Farm, Dalkeith.
It was made in 1955 and lasts 11 minutes.