Sam Dyson, Full Transcript

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In his interview with W.R. Mitchell, Mr. Dyson recalls buying his first smallholding, Buckley Farm, Stanbury, in 1939. With the help of his wife Mrs. Peggy Dyson (PD) and a friend and neighbour Adrian Bancroft (AB), he recounts living and working on that smallholding and the other farms he has bought and worked in the Stanbury area, including Ponden Hall Farm. With a background in farming for over 50 years they relate many interesting stories, and often with humour. The interview is noteworthy for its poetic regional dialect, comical turn of phrase, its gusto and articulacy. They relate how they made a living with very few resources, and grew over the years, still retaining their down to earth approach to life and farming.


[Start of interview - 00:00:12]

WRM: Where was your first farm, around Haworth?

SD: Oh, me first farm were at Buckley Farm, across ‘ere at Stanbury.

WRM: How do you spell that?

SD: B-U-C-K-L-E-Y Farm.

WRM: That’s right, and what acreage was that?

SD: Fourteen acre. We bought that to get married. We were living at Brooklands at Cullingworth. Well, I weren’t; Peggy were living at Brooklands at Cullingworth. We weren’t married then, an’ we were thinking about gettin’ married. But it weren’t big enough where we were living. It were a big ‘ouse but there weren’t enough acre, there were jus’ three acre. An’ so we couldn’t mek a livin’ there so we decided that we’d sell Brooklands at Cullingworth an’ buy a farm. So we went lookin’ round an’ we went t’auctioneers and one auctioneer said, ‘Well, what you want to do is to go to Keighley.’

PD: No, Craven.

WRM: Craven?

PD: What they call that paper.

WRM: The Craven Herald?

SD: Alright. Then he said, ‘Go and get a Craven Herald and look in’t Craven Herald.’ So we looked in’t Craven Herald and there were two farms to sell. One were at Black Hill and t’other were at Buckley Farm at Stanbury. So we decided we’d go to Black Hill. So we went to Black Hill and knocked at the door, ‘Have you a farm to sell?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Can we have a look round?’ We went into t’house and you couldn’t see fireplace for cinders. It were reet high here. She says, ‘I’m not goin’ ‘ere.’ [Laughs] So that were th’end of that farm. So I said, ‘Alright, we’ll go back an’ look at this ‘ere at Buckley’, so we went to Buckley and looked at Buckley. Fourteen acre, fourteen an’ a half, I think. And by God, it were a grand little farm.

WRM: So was it a hillside farm?

SD: Yes, a hill farm, no moor rights just fourteen acre.

WRM: And what height was it above sea level?

SD: Oh, above sea level, it would be a thousand feet above sea level now.

WRM: It didn’t half catch the wind there, did it?

SD: Oh aye, it catched a bit o’ wind. We went to look at it and she says, ‘Aye, I could live there,’ so I said ‘Alreet.’ So anyway, she started packing afore we bought it, ready for... [Laughs] An’ I came up t’day after to see ‘im and we’d to go to this Estate Agent at Oakworth. So I went into t’office an’ said how much ‘ad it to be, an’ it were... I’ve forgotten how much it were but I bid ‘im...

WRM: What was it roughly?

SD: I bid ‘im six ‘undred pounds and he wouldn’t tek it.

WRM: Yeah.

SD: An’ they said, ‘Well, will you go outside?’ So I went outside.

WRM: You didn’t bid him six hundred according to your wife. How much?

PD: Well, it were six hundred and sixty they wanted.

WRM: Six hundred and sixty they wanted, yes?

SD: Well, what did I bid ‘im?

PD: An’ I think it were £620 yer bid.

WRM: Oh well, it’s only twenty out. [Laughs]

PD: No, I know that, but it were a lot then.

SD: Well, anyway he said, ‘Well, will you go outside a minute or two?’, so I went outside a minute or two an’ then they called me back in an’ they said, well they couldn’t tek that but that they could tek so much an’ that worra bit less. I said, ‘No, that’s it.’

WRM: What year was this?

PD: 1939.

WRM: 1939, ah yes.

SD: Anyway, there were a bit more talk an’ a bit more talk an’ they said, ‘Well, will you go outside again?’ So I said, ‘Aye, I’ll go outside again’. So I went outside again. An’ they called me back in a bit and said they’d tek so much again, an’ I said, ‘No, I’m sorry, I’ve bid yer all I’m givin’ yer an’ that’s it.’ And so they said, ‘Well, will you go...?’ I said, ‘No, if I go outside again I shan’t come back.’ ‘Well’, he said, ‘You’d better ‘ave it.’ So we ‘ad it.

WRM: So you bought the farm?

SD: Six hundred and twenty quid, were it?

PD: Aye.

WRM: And what did you get for it, a farmhouse...?

SD: Farmhouse, buildings...

PD: A cottage...

WRM: A cottage?

SD: It were a grand, little farm, it really was. Because fella that belonged it, his fatha were a joiner and his wife’s fatha were a builder so it were up-to-date, everything was spot on.

WRM: What was the land like?

SD: Not bad, not bad at all.

WRM: What sort of land do you get round Haworth and Stanbury?

SD: Well, it was strong like, you know?

WRM: What does that mean, clay?

SD: Aye, a bit heavy; it were a bit heavy, but it wasn’t so bad for being clay.

PD: No, but during t’war when we had to plough...

SD: In them days, you know, you could mek a livin’ out of 500 hens.

WRM: Could you?

SD: Aye. It were nobbut a livin’ but you could live off 500 hens in them days.

WRM: What sort of stock did you have at that farm?

SD: [Laughs] Well, we bought a heifer.

PD: He bought a heifer.

SD: Two teeth [unclear 00:05:19] were a beauty an’ all, it were. An’ when we bought t’farm, neighbours used to come for milk, yer see, an’ so they still came for milk. An’ we’d only had this cow... we hadn’t ‘ad it a fortnight ‘ad we, when it started goin’ off its milk. So we didn’t know what to do with this ‘ere, an’ so it got t’pitch where we couldn’t supply t’milk so t’wife wattered it a bit! [Laughs]

WRM: [Laughs]

PD: We’d three customers for a pint.

WRM: Three customers, a pint each, yes?

PD: An’ it was tuppence ha’penny a pint.

WRM: Tuppence ha’penny a pint...

PD: Yes, but that were all in the pocket weren’t it, and in those days you ‘ad to look after things like that.

WRM: It was all in the pocket and you had to look after things in those days, yes. Sorry, I’m just repeating so that it goes in here.

SD: An’ we also sold paraffin yer see, for t’neighbours round about, so that were another side-line. [Laughs]

PD: Three ha’pence a gallon.

WRM: How many cows had you got, just one?

SD: Just one, but we brought two heifers with us or summat like that and we brought us own ‘orse wi’ us. We didn’t buy t’horse, we brought us own pony with us, and us own pigs. We’d plenty of pigs ‘cos we brought them with us from Cullingworth, you see? An’ so everything were goin’ on alright.

WRM: So it was like Noah’s Ark, was it?

SD: It was alright, til cow started givin’ less milk. [Laughs] Aye, we wattered it; well, she wattered it.

WRM: How many hens had you got then?

SD: Oh, we bought all t’hens that were on it, that were on’t farm. We bought all t’hens that were on it.

WRM: Yes. And what were you getting for your products then? What was a pint of milk in those days?

SD: Oh, I don’t know; it’s that long sin’ I’ve no idea. It’s sixty years nearly. It would be about tuppence ha’penny a pint.

WRM: And how about eggs?

SD: Oh, they got down to eight pence a dozen in summer.

WRM: Did they?

SD: Aye. There were egg round wi’ this farm an’ all, I kept that on when I bought t’farm. I got t’egg round thrown in like an’ I went wi’t eggs for a few week and then I went one week and this ‘ere woman, her that we’d bought farm off she said, ‘By, well I’ll tell yer what’, she said, ‘your eggs are little ‘uns.’ I said, ‘They’re your hens anyway.’ [Laughs] Them same hens that we’d bought off ‘er an’ she were worryin’ about eggs, wa’n’t she? [Laughs] Aye, Mrs Sugden.

WRM: Is she still living?

PD: No.

SD: No.

WRM: Oh, we can mention her then. [Laughs] Did you have a car?

SD: Oh, aye, but we’d to sell t’car. We had a Ford V8, it were a grand un an’ all, but we’d to sell that to mek ends meet like and all we ‘ad were a pony, an’ after a while I bought a motorbike. An’ I brought it ‘ome an’ ‘alf on it in a sack. [Laughs]

WRM: Half of it in a sack, how do you make that out?

SD: Well, I bought the motorbike an’ there were that many spare parts with it I ‘ad to put it in a sack to bring it ‘ome. Anyway, when I brought it ‘ome I said, ‘It’s cheap, is this.’

WRM: Twenty pounds, was it?

SD: I don’t know, I’ve forgotten.

PD: It were.

WRM: Did you have a side car or something?

SD: No, I had a box, it were like a coffin. [Laughs] You’ve seen a strange box haven’t yer on t’side of a motorbike?

WRM: Yeah.

SD: Well, it were one of them things.

WRM: What, with a wheel?

SD: Oh aye it ‘ad a wheel on, by jov aye.

WRM: So it was like a side-car, was it?

SD: Yeah. An’ we kept that for a year or two. Oh, we got a tandem first, didn’t we? Pedalling... Yer see, we still ‘ad Cullingworth, we ‘adn’t sold Cullingworth then, we still ‘ad this ‘ouse, an’ there were all these fruit trees at Cullingworth an’ we’d to keep goin’ to Cullingworth to straighten t’garden up and all this ‘ere so we’d to go on this ‘ere tandem. That took a bit o’ doin’ yer know.

WRM: So you started off with a tandem...

SD: We sold us car when we left Cullingworth to mek ends meet. Then we bought a tandem. [Laughs] We were to go to Cullingworth on t’tandem to fetch all the plums ‘ome and everythin’ that were goin’ out o’ t’garden.

PD: It were funny, because the first year of the war we’d lived at Cullingworth for fifteen year I think it were and we’d ‘ad only a few plums, and the first year of the war they were absolutely bowed down, weren’t they?

SD: They were. It were absolutely loaded, wa’n’t they?

PD: You couldn’t believe it to see it, and there were a greengage tree that never ‘ad anything on all t’time I’d grown up with it and that were bowed down.

WRM: And how long were you at this farm then?

SD: We stopped at that farm for fifteen year, but eventually we sold Brooklands. They filled it wi’ evacuees, twelve women an’ twenty six kids.

WRM: Was this the place at Cullingworth?

SD: That were it.

WRM: Yeah.

SD: It were a grand ‘ouse that, it still is a grand ‘ouse. An’ so we sold it.

WRM: What was farming like around Stanbury at that time? I mean, what was the average size of a farm?

SD: About that. In our yard, that farm we bought, there were two joined in t’yard. There were our farm and Mary-Ann Feather, an’ we both joined at t’yard.

WRM: Mare and Feathers?

SD: Mary-Ann Feather.

WRM: Was that the name of the farmer?

SD: No, that were ‘er, that were the woman that ‘ad bin on’t farm.

[Dog barks]

WRM: Oh dear. So they were all little smallholdings really, were they?

SD: Aye, they were none o’ them so big.

WRM: And the whole hillside was just full of them, was it?

SD: Oh, aye; little farms all over the place.

WRM: What was the average acreage then?

SD: Well, fifteen to twenty to twenty five, no more than that. How big were yer Dad’s Adrian?

AB Me Dad’s were thirty five.

PD: Ah, but how many holdings were put together there?

WRM: This was the way of farming round Haworth, wasn’t it?

SD: Yes, not round Haworth, round Stanbury. Haworth were a bit bigger. There were bigger farms. They were looked on as poor farms, yer see, up ‘ere. But it were alright for a start. We started on theear and we sort of grew oursen a bit, yer see? After we’d been there... how long had we been there when Mary-Ann said that we could...?

PD: 1944 when she died.

SD: Next door neighbour, that were ‘er that joined at t’farmyard with us an’ ‘ad big house...

WRM: What was she called?

SD: Mary-Ann Feather.

WRM: And what was the farm called?

PD: Buckley House.

SD: Buckley House, that were, an’ we were at Buckley Farm.

WRM: Oh, I see.

SD: An’ that were a bigger ‘ouse, yer see?

WRM: Yes, I see. What was Mary-Ann Feather like?

SD: Oh, she were a case. She were alright were Mary-Ann Feather, but she were an old lass, by.

WRM: Did she live there by herself?

SD: Yeah.

WRM: And she did all the work herself?

SD: No, she ‘ad no farm when we got there. When we went there, Adrian’s grandfather ‘ad all t’land. She ‘ad fourteen and a half acre and we ‘ad fourteen an’ a half acre, an’ it all joined on. She ‘ad to go through some of our land to get to ‘ers, you know, on that far side down t’turf pits an’ all along there.

WRM: So you’d got to be good neighbours in a situation like that, had you?

SD: Aye, but she were really old-fashioned, wa’n’t she Adrian?

WRM: In what way?

Adrian I can’t remember.

SD: God, aye.

WRM: In what way?

SD: Every way.

WRM: [Laughs]

SD: I’ll tell yer what. She’d no light, no electric, no water in, no nothing like that in t‘ouse, an’ it were a big, nice ‘ouse. An’ when we got to Buckley we’d no watter in, we’d to fetch it out o’ t’well in t’front yard an’ I bought a lot of piping that ‘ad been in a mill an’ I put water into Buckley House, into Buckley where we lived, an’ then I used to have to fetch watter for Mary-Ann because she was an old lady. I used to... you know, she started bein’ worse so I started carrying watter for ‘er. So I says to her, I says ‘Now then Mary-Ann, I’ll put your water in for nothin’. Save me carryin’ it, yer see?’ She said, ‘It were good enough for me mother, it’s good enough for me.’ And wouldn’t ‘ave it! For nothing!

WRM: Where did you buy your stock?

SD: Me stock?

WRM: At these farms?

SD: I bought it auctions or anywhere; or just went from farm to farm if somebody...

WRM: Which auction was it?

SD: Skipton, Bingley, Otley...

WRM: And what type of [cattle were they], were they short-horns?

SD: Short-horns, aye. They were all short-horns round ‘ere at t’time. Friesians were fra lower down t’country.

WRM: And you sold your surplus stock did you to the auction mart?

SD: Oh, aye.

WRM: How did you get it there? On a tandem?

SD: Oh, no, a wagon used to come, Arthur White’s. We sold a bull and he came to fetch this bull and he said, ‘Where is it?’ She said, ‘It’s in ‘ere’. An’ I wa’n’t at ‘ome. He said, ‘Oh’. An’ it were writhing sods up... ‘Ooh, by God,’ he said. [Laughs] Arthur White.

WRM: How did he get it in?

SD: They opened gate and it shot down Buckley Lane, right t’bottom of Buckley Lane an’ he said, ‘It’s alright it can’t get out, wagon’s at t’bottom.’ An’ when he got down it’d loaded issel’, it were in t’wagon.’ A Friesian, wa’n’t it?

WRM: It was a Friesian bull, was it?

SD: I bought it off Major Bairstow as a calf and reared it up.

WRM: Major Bairstow?

SD: Major Bairstow, he lived in Stanbury village, he were a big pot, you know?

WRM: Yeah, he had a bigger farm, had he?

SD: Oh, aye, ‘e ‘ad a big ‘un. ‘e used to supply Halifax Infirmary with all t’milk, didn’t he?

PD: Yes, ‘e ‘ad one o’ t’first TTs, yer know, an’ ‘e were a Friesian.

WRM: What was the name of his farm?

SD: Manor.

PD: Manor Farm.

WRM: At Stanbury?

PD: Yeah.

SD: His daughter still farms it.

PD: The milk used to go on the train twice a day, didn’t it?

SD: Yeah.

WRM: What was this milk that went on the train twice a day?

SD: Not ours, Major Bairstow’s. [Laughs] We hadn’t enough milk to supply t’customers, never mind sending it on t’train!

WRM: [Laughs] You’d only got three pints to supply had you?

SD: By God, aye.

WRM: [Laughs]

SD: I can tell yer.

PD: Hey, is it switched off?

WRM: Yes, it is.

PD: Well, when we did get a drop of milk there were a separator and they used to be fixed to the ground in the kitchen, do you remember those? An’ you used to separate your milk, yer see, and mek some butter, an’ we started separating this milk. Well, it used to tek ages.

SD: Sweat, talk about sweat, grindin’ away, it were ‘orse work, by God it were hard work, wa’n’t it?

PD: And then it started going a bit wrong, and Jimmy Docherty that worked at t’local blacksmith he lived next door...

SD: He used to come down every day though did Jimmy, an’ he came in... we were separatin’ one night an’ he came in, he said, ‘It looks to be hard work that, Sam.’ I said, ‘Aye, by God,’ I said, ‘it is hard work.’ He said, ‘I’m not canty, tha’s brake on’! [Laughs]

PD: We didn’t know that, did we?

WRM: This is the churn?

SD: No, it were t’separator.

PD: It were a separator and it were fixed in the ground, bolted through the flags. An’ you put your milk in the top and it used to come through all these pipes an’ the blue milk came down into the can an’ the cream came into another, yer see?

WRM: What was the brake?

SD: Well, it were a little catch that you moved over like that, yer see?

PD: Because I mean when you was... when it was goin’ it was vibratin’ an’ I don’ know what, but then when the milk had gone through an’ you wanted it to settle down you could put the brake on. Well, we didn’t know.

SD: Anyway, Mary-Ann wouldn’t ‘ave watter in, would she?

WRM: What about sheep, did you keep a few sheep?

SD: No, we’d no sheep. We’d plenty of other folks’s sheep. By God... me Dad came up at hay time an’ ’e said, ‘Well, you’ll bank ‘ere’. ‘e said, ‘By go, they’re eatin’ you out of ‘ome an’ ‘arbour.’

WRM: What kind of sheep were they?

SD: Lonks an’... it were Adrian’s grandfather who owned a lot what were eatin’ me out... and Joe Mullin another lot. Anyway...

WRM: They were lonk sheep were they? What’s a lonk sheep like?

SD: Oh they’re good, they were good then. But they’ve gone out of fashion a little bit now, only for crossing. Because it takes ‘em too long to... they grow too fast, you know, too long? An’ it takes two year afore you can get ‘em into meat. Anyway, I bought twelve sheep off Adrian Bancroft’s grandfather, an’ that was ‘im what started me off. An’ he did alright for me did ol’ John, he wor alright.

WRM: What was the next farm you went to?

SD: Then after we’d bin theear fifteen year we came to Ponden Hall. Oh no, for a start off we worked fifteen acre an’ then t’old lady nex’ door died, an’ so that came up to sell an’ so we’d grown oursen so much like where we were farmin’ both farms then, because we’d got ‘er farm before she died because she said, ‘I’m not goin’ to let me farm to John Bancroft anymore.’ She said, ‘He’s not just farmin’ it right.’ He wa’n’t neither, he were jus’ [unclear 00:20:11] it wi’ sheep like a bit. An’ so I said, ‘How much is it?’ She said, ‘It’s eight pound.’

WRM: Eight pounds?

SD: Eight pounds for fourteen acre.

WRM: Eight pounds?

SD: Eight pounds. I said, ‘Ah’ll ‘ave it.’ So I still ‘ad this farm then, an’ the other fourteen acre then, yer see, on me own.

WRM: What was the average price for land in those days?

SD: Oh, I don’t know, you could buy a farm for six hundred quid! [Laughs] We bought fifteen acre, buildings an’ all t’lot for six hundred pound. When t’sale came up we came, everybody thought we’d, you know… I said, ‘We’ll ‘ave t’buy this farm or else we’ll flit.’ Yer see, because times were altered and you couldn’t mek a living out of fifteen acre because t’job were gettin’ worse. An’ so we’d to get more stock on, an’ so we ‘ad more stock on because we’d got more farms then, an’ so we said that we’d ‘ave to buy this farm an’ all.

WRM: This was in the 1950s?

PD: No, 1944, during the war.

WRM: Ah yes, 1944.

SD: So, it came up for sale did this ‘ere farm, an’ everybody thought I’d ‘ave to ‘ave it, and there were one fella in t’village that we thought ‘He’ll chase us’, yer see? An’ so I arranged with another fella to buy it, and I’d bid agen ‘im once an’ then he’d go on an’ he’d buy it for me. He were an accountant at Keighley. So when it came to t’sale day...

PD: The sale was on a Saturday.

SD: Yeah...

PD: And the sale with the house and the furniture were all on the same day.

SD: They brok int’ t’sale, durin’ sale, to sell t’house. An’ so when ‘ouse came up for sale they started biddin’ f’t’ouse an’ that, an’ then I bid, an’ then this other fella bid, eventually. An’ then ‘e looked at me and I said, ‘Well, let ‘im ave it.’ An’ so ‘e knocked it down to this ‘ere bloke.

WRM: How much did Ponden Hall cost you?

PD: We aren’t tellin’.

WRM: Oh, sorry...

SD: [Laughs]

WRM: It’s too dear, is it?

SD: No, it were too cheap.

PD: Nobody’s ever known.

WRM: Oh well, fair enough, that’s jolly good. Anyway you got Ponden Hall...

SD: No, we got Buckley House then see, and auctioneer knocked it down to this fella and then we wanted t’stair carpet out o’ this ‘ouse to stop where it were because we were goin’ to move in there; an’ I couldn’t get in, he wouldn’t even tek no notice of me because ‘e thought ‘e’d finished wi me you see, an’ I had to shout out, ‘Go on..’ An’ he looked at me, so he took mi bid an’ I got t’stair carpet, an’ just after we’d got stair carpet they said, ‘Will you come in and sign for the ‘ouse Mr Dyson?’ [Laughs] Auctioneer said, ‘Yer bugger, you’ve done me.’ He’d ‘ave chased me on, yer see, if I ‘adn’t ‘ave ‘ad somebody else biddin’ for me? What did they call ‘im?

PD: Holmes Ackroyd.

SD: Holmes Ackroyd, so.

WRM: You came up in the world with Ponden Hall, it was a bigger farm was it?

SD: Oh, aye.

WRM: How many acres?

SD: Fifty acre, an’ then I’d fifty acre of Higher Ponden an’ then I’d Stanbury Moor.

WRM: Good heavens...

SD: But I ‘ad to ‘ave Stanbury Moor taken off shooters, an’ I ‘ad Higher Ponden taken off shooters.

WRM: Now the point is that you’ve since sold Ponden Hall, but you’ve still got the land have you?

SD: I’ve sold it all bar one field.

WRM: Well, most of the land, yes. So what are you doing now? You’re not retired at all are you?

SD: Yeah, I am supposed to be. [Laughs]

WRM: Do you mind if I mention your age, at 81?

SD: No.

WRM: So how many acres have you got now?

PD: It’s hectares now.

WRM: Oh, it’s hectares now, yes. I prefer acres, actually.

SD: I do an’ all. I can’t do with these ‘ectares an’ suchlike but we’ve near enough, we’ve about, that belongs to us we’ve about forty two o’ three acre that’s ours, an’ then we’ve fifty acre that we rent off somebody else, off Peter Moore, that’s ‘im at... an’ then I’ve all Stanbury Moor.

WRM: Now what kind of cattle have you got now?

SD: We’ve sucklers now, it’s cows and calves, sucklers, they’re a Hereford cross.

WRM: When you first came though you were milking were you?

SD: When I came ‘ere? Yes, I were milking ‘ere.

PD: Not proper milking. We never did any proper milking ‘ere.

WRM: Didn’t you?

SD: Well, we’d all t’milkin’ machines in ‘ere ‘adn’t we?

PD: Yes, but we didn’t send any milk.

WRM: You didn’t send any milk from here?

SD: We sent milk from Buckley.

WRM: What did you do with the milk?

PD: We were rearing calves and things.

WRM: Oh, rearing calves, yes. And were you still on short-horns?

SD: Yeah.

PD: Well, they were mixed: all sorts.

SD: We’d all sorts. Belted Galloways an’ all manner of stuff. Owt that were cheap! [Laughs]

WRM: [Laughs] And you could also keep a lot of sheep then, could you?

SD: Yeah.

WRM: Out on the moor, what kind of sheep, were they lonks still?

SD: Lonks and Dalesbred cross and now we’re onto, we’ve ‘ad to get in’t t’Swaledales a bit, and North Country Cheviots.

WRM: Yes? I was chatting to this farmer on this walk, this Coast-to-Coast, and I was chatting to the farmer in Patterdale and I said, ‘What sort of sheep have you got?’ He said, ‘Swaledales, mainly.’ I said, ‘How do you mean, ‘mainly’?’ He said, ‘I’ve got a few Herdwicks, because me neighbour’s have got a few Herwick tups’.

SD: [Laughs]

WRM: [Laughs] And he said, ‘So you get a few Herdwicks round the edges.’ You know?

SD: But I’m not a lover of Herdwicks, like.

WRM: You’re not? What sort of land is Ponden Hall?

SD: It’s alright. It’s a bit o’ good ground. It’s dry an’ yer know, it’s well drained an’ it’s alright, an’ it’s a good moor.

WRM: Now you lived at the High Farm, did you, was that Buckley?

SD: No, no, I lived at Height Laithe, but I came... I’ve never lived nowhere else only at Ponden Hall, ‘ere and up theear, and like it all belonged to me, didn’t it? All the ‘shebush’ belonged to us, but that up there were our building, an’ it were a barn an’ an ‘ouse, and so...

WRM: What did they call it?

SD: Height Laithe, H-E-I-G-H-T Laithe. An’ we did a lot o’ Pennine walkers ‘ere, when missus were in’t good pomp. [Laughs] She med more money than me. No coddin’, it were a good job.

WRM: Bed and breakfast?

SD: Bed and breakfast, we used to do ponies; we had ponies for hirin’. How many years did ponies come?

PD: We had ‘em three years.

SD: Fifteen ponies an’ there were all the riders an’ all that lot for seven week at once all durin’ summer time. We’d customers come to Ponden Hall for how long?

PD: Fifteen year.

SD: Fifteen year, and never missed on t’trot for the fortnight an’ all that. Repeat. They all came back, every one o’ them. All Pennine walkers used to come up an’ then they used to bring their wives back an’ all, to look where they’d been.

WRM: And this little barn, you turned into a farmhouse?

SD: It were a big barn and it were a big ‘ouse. Well, it were a little ‘ouse but it were a big barn.

WRM: Yes, and you put the whole lot together did you?

SD: Yeah.

WRM: And you lived up there for how long?

SD: We lived up there until she ‘ad ‘er stroke. We sold Ponden Hall because job got too big for ‘er, it were that big. You know, wi’ Pennine walkers. In fact, if we’d ‘ad wanted, we could ‘ave bin open at Christmas. We wouldn’t even open at Christmas, she were rushed off her feet.

WRM: Is Ponden Hall a really big house?

SD: It in’t all that big, but...

WRM: Because it’s a famous house, isn’t it?

SD: Oh, aye. We liked livin’ there. We right enjoyed livin’ there, it were alright.

WRM: Is there a big inglenook and what not there? What were the facilities like at Ponden Hall?

SD: They were dog rough when we went. When we went theear it were dog rough. I’ll tell ye, when we came to look at it Billy Askwith, ‘e wanted to sell out but ‘e didn’t want anybody to know really. An’ I got to know ‘e wanted to sell out, and so I came to see ‘im and ‘e said, well, no, ‘e didn’t really want to sell out yet like. An’ so I said, ‘Well, will yer give me t’first chance when you do?’ An’ he said ‘e would. An’ when it got to be spring ‘e came across an’ he said, ‘Are yer still interested?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ ‘e said, ‘Well, I’m ready to sell out.’ So I said, ‘Alright, I’ll bring t’wife across to ‘ave a look.’ An’ I took her all round t’top to let ‘er look at t’land because she’d never been before.

PD: It was the first time I’d ever walked all t’way over t’tops.

SD: An’ then the day after I said, ‘We’ll come tomorrow.’ So ‘e said, ‘Alright.’ Or Wednesday, were it?

PD: Monday morning. We walked round at Sunday night.

SD: An’ she said she were wantin’ to come. But in t’meantime between then an’ ready to comin’ she’d changed her mind, she didn’t want to come. Oh, we didn’t want to bother. I said, ‘We promised to go an’ so we’ll go.’ So we came across an’ ‘e showed us all t’buildings an’ that, an’ then ‘e said, ‘Na then, I’ll show you round t’house.’ An’ his wife said, ‘Well, prepare yourself for a shock’. That’s just what she said. Can you remember? You knew his wife didn’t you, May, aye?

PD: Yes.

SD: By God, an’ it were a shock an’ all. When we went in that ‘ouse it were dog rough.

WRM: What did you find?

PD: Everything were either red powdered distemper or green powdered distemper.

WRM: Red powdered distemper or green powdered distemper?

SD: The big room, the biggest room of all, were red distemper.

PD: It’s not like what it is today, where you can wash it.

WRM: Gosh. Did you have a bathroom?

SD: No.

PD: There were no water, never mind a bathroom.

SD: There were no watter in t’house. By God, it were rough. An’ at t’door bottoms, theear, there were rat ‘oils as big as that where rats had gone to get out.

WRM: [Laughs]

SD: Can you remember it, Adrian?

AB Aye.

SD: It were dog rough, wa’n’t it? Upstairs ceilings, instead of being like that they were like ‘ammocks.

WRM: [Laughs]

SD: They’d pinned sheets up. It’s true. By God. Anyway, we looked all round an’ then we came out an’ I said, ‘Well, I’ll let you know on Wednesday.’ So ‘e said, ‘Alright’. So we came down...

WRM: Is Billy Askwith dead?

SD: ‘e’s dead, just not so long, ‘e’d be dead happen on six month. I said, ‘Well, what about it?’ She said, ‘We’ll ‘ave it.’ I said, ‘You’ve changed your mind quick, ‘aven’t yer?’ She said, ‘Well, that’s it.’ I said, ‘Well, what about that ‘ouse?’ She said, ‘I’ll look after t’house, you look after t’other’. An’ that’s what ‘appened.

WRM: You got some good buildings too, did you?

SD: By, there were all these buildings...

WRM: In fact you live in the barn, don’t you?

SD: Oh, aye, but there were another set o’ buildings on theear besides. We’d two sets of buildings, outside buildings, an’ this barn. This were t’barn an’ t’house theear.

WRM: And this barn was a big one, wasn’t it?

SD: This were it, this were t’barn.

WRM: Yes, with three big pillars in it?

SD: Yeah, like that.

WRM: Incredible... and when did you convert it?

SD: We went up theear first. We made that before we sold Ponden Hall. We made that up there, an’ then when that were ready to move into then we sold Ponden Hall. An’ then we lived up there... well, you had a stroke didn’t you. How long did we live up there before you had a stroke?

PD: We lived up there four years but we lived there five years after havin’ t’stroke.

SD: Anyway…

WRM: You were up there for about nine years?

PD: Yeah.

SD: It got t’pitch when if she came downstairs in a morning she ‘ad to stop down, because it were ‘ard work gerrin’ back up.

PD: We’d a downstairs toilet an’ everything.

SD: And so I said, ‘Well, we’ll mek this into a bungalow an’ let me daughter an’ her ‘usband go up theear.’ An’ so that’s what we did.

WRM: The point about why I’m asking this is it must have been... you mentioned that there were lovely views from every window.

SD: Beautiful.

WRM: Yes, how far could you see?

SD: Coo, forever.

WRM: Yes, but also when you get good views you get a lot of wind usually don’t you?

SD: Oh, you got some wind alreet.

WRM: Yes, what was the weather up there like?

SD: Oh it were wild, it were wild.

WRM: Yes, I mean, the rain for instance?

PD: No different t’anywhere else. We’d a greenhouse up there an’ we ripened every tomater every year.

WRM: A greenhouse and you ripened every tomato every year.

SD: Without any ‘eat in it.

WRM: Oh, I was hoping you were going to tell me about slates being stripped off and picked up in t’next parish.

SD: No.

WRM: Oh dear, that’s my romantic journalistic approach, you know? [Laughs]

PD: I liked it there.

SD: She liked it up theear better than she does down ‘ere, because she could see forever, you know?

WRM: Yes. But I mean there were times when you were bent over in the wind weren’t there up there?

SD: Oh, aye, there were.

PD: Well, in 1979, that was the winter when I started being out of sorts, we were blocked in and we’d to leave everything down here an’ go up t’fields, there were no way...

WRM: You were blocked in, in ’79?

SD: But we’ve never ‘ad as bad a winter ‘ere as we ‘ad at Buckley.

PD: Oh, no, 1947, oh, no.

SD: We’d three winters at Buckley, I said, ‘If we’ve another we’re not stoppin’ any longer’.

PD: That were t’first three winters of the war. We were blocked in first three winters, and then it weren’t so bad. But in 1947 it started in January...

WRM: Where were you then?

PD: At Buckley. In 1947 the snow started; well, it were very frosty to start with, that made it worse. An’ the snow started about the third week in January an’ we had to dig the last drift out at Easter. It were dreadful were that.

WRM: Did you lose any stock?

PD: Not really, we didn’t do that.

SD: No, but we was nearly banked because all us cows were gild in spring when they should ‘ave bin in calf, an’ you know, we lost money that way. You see, we ‘ad no bull at the time an’ we used to get AI on the job. AI couldn’t get theear, an’ wouldn’t get theear.

PD: No, 1947 were bad.

WRM: Yeah, you mean it just kind of blew...?

PD: Well, yer see, there were no mechanical diggers in those days, an’ all the farmers, if they ‘ad a shovel, they could go an’ dig the roads out.

SD: Aye, they came an’ asked us to t’dig f’ t’Council: we digged f’ t’Council.

PD: Yeah, anybody, if they went with a shovel they got set on to dig. An’ they’d just dug down ‘The Silent Inn’, they’d just got it dug out in about four days when it’d blow back in again.

SD: It piled up again.

PD: Yer see there were no mechanical diggers like we ‘ave now.

WRM: Have you had any bad winters since you came here?

SD: Not as we ‘ad up theear.

PD: 1979, when we were up there were bad, weren’t it?

WRM: 1979, yeah.

PD: Yeah, that were bad.

SD: But when Askwith lived ‘ere, there were a bad winter; well it were t’same when we were at Buckley.

PD: That were ’47.

SD: He’d ninety sheep, ‘e said it I don’t know whether ‘e ‘ad or not but that’s what ‘e said, ‘e’d ninety sheep dead all in one drift at t’wood. I don’t know whether he ‘ad so many or not.

WRM: What is the land around Stanbury like? It seems high lying, it’s pretty exposed but it’s quite good land is it?

SD: Oh, aye. Mind yer, it’s improved sin’ th’war. It’s a lot better now than ever it wor when we came up at first.

WRM: This is ploughing and re-seeding and… yeah.

SD: Oh, aye, but t’job was mended. I mean, everything is mended these days. It’s alright saying ‘the good ol’ days’, they never want to come back, do they?

PD: Oh, no.

WRM: No, no. And today you’ve got cattle. Do you milk?

SD: No.

WRM: No, beef, that’s right, beef. Sucklers. Yeah. What do you cross? Do you keep all kinds of sucklers?

SD: Oh, aye. We’ve Charolais... we’ve how many? We’ve only eight all told.

WRM: Will you tell me the ones I can spell?

SD: I can’t spell it neither. When I went t’school we ‘ad dictation of forty words and I ‘ad thirty eight wrong out o’ forty!

WRM: [Laughs]

PD: And how many would you ‘ave today?! [Laughs]

SD: I’d ‘ave all t’lot wrong!

WRM: So today you’ve got sucklers. What age do you sell them at?

SD: We sell ‘em when they get to be worth about £300.

WRM: Where, through Skipton?

SD: Aye, Skipton or Bingley.

WRM: And then you’ve got sheep?

SD: Aye, that’s t’main job.

WRM: These are mainly Swaledales now are they?

SD: We got wer Swadis an’ we’ve... I crossed me shielings. I put a North Country Cheviot onto them, then I ‘adn’t as much bother at lambin’ time because they’re nobbut little lambs, an’ as soon as ‘e was ready to move on they’re ready to move on. They don’t come out half dead for a start off with a big swelled ‘ead, do they?

PD: No.

SD: Terrible. When you get Lonks, you know, they tek a bit of lambin’. Big ears.

PD: Well, a Lonk tup lamb can be born with horns like that.

WRM: What, Lonks?

PD: Yeah, little stubbs, ‘aven’t they?

WRM: But it was all Lonks in this area, wasn’t it, when you were young?

SD: Oh aye, but yer see there’s Lonks now onto Dalesbred and they’re onto Swaledales an’ all that.

PD: They’re still good prices to buy Lonks, aren’t they?

WRM: What for crossing?

PD: Yeah.

SD: But it’s alreet.

WRM: What is it like farming up in Brontë country these days?

SD: It isn’t as good as it is lower down t’country, nowt like.

WRM: No, no, but you get an awful lot of people traipsing through here...

SD: Oh aye, it’s a lot worse now on t’moor, it’s never empty. They’re never empty, it’s terrible. There are six paths to t’kirk. Six footpaths to t’kirk! ‘As thee ever ‘eard owt as daft as that?

WRM: Official ones?

SD: Aye. They aren’t twenty five yards apart some o’ them. An’ there’s signs up, an’ if you tell ‘em about it they say, ‘Will you fasten your dog up, please?’ and look at you as though you’re barmy.

PD: And signs with Japanese on as well.

WRM: Yes. So you’ve got a lot more visitors now, and so… I mean the moor, they don’t go on Stanbury Moor do they?

SD: Aye.

PD: Yes.

WRM: Are there footpaths across there?

SD: Footpaths across Stanbury Moor.

WRM: I suppose a lot of these footpaths was because there were all these little smallholdings, weren’t there?

SD: There were no footpaths. They’ve made ‘em, they’ve given ‘em ‘em.

PD: There were old fashioned footpaths that used to be, with proper old stiles, but now they’re mekkin new ones, proper new ones.

WRM: New paths?

PD: New paths. We’ve one now, they call it ‘The Brontë Way’, and they’ve made it... and how many new stone slabs and one thing and another, it’s cost the earth, hasn’t it?

SD: They’ve paved it, aye, right on past Bracewell, right onto Wycoller.

WRM: Paved it?

SD: Paved it!

PD: Paved it. Proper paving.

SD: The way yer mend roads, an’ I’ve paid it for all these years…

AB I wrote to t’paper about that, yer know, but they never replied. Because they lifted all them flags off Penistone, all to t’Withins, didn’t they?

SD: Yeah.

AB And in t’Yorkshire Post they had a photograph of an ‘elicopter an’ all these flags that they were airliftin’. And on that same front page of the Yorkshire Post that day, nurses and teachers, they were cuttin’ their pay. An’ they were airliftin’ them flags, an’ I wrote to t’paper an’ they never replied, an’ they never printed t’letter either. An’ I thought it were a disgrace that.

PD: That was at Brontë bridge, weren’t it?

SD: Aye, but they took all t’flags right up to Withins, right up to Withins, an’ they’ve done it all t’way up ‘ere now, on t’Brontë Way, an’ they’ve put all pebbles down...

WRM: I suppose it stops a lot of erosion, does it?

SD: Pardon?

WRM: You know, if people are walking on stones they’re not likely to... what usually happens in our area is that they tend to walk off t’path because it gets muddy and mek another muddy path, so it can get about 50 yards wide.

SD: Yeah, an’ when they get a bus load in they’re walkin’ twenty a-breast. I was across fetchin’ some sheep out o’ t’Old Snap...

WRM: Old Snap?

SD: Old Snap Farm, that’s a farm on theear, an’ I looked back an’ there were this ‘ere party of walkers comin’ on. An’ they were ten a-breast.

PD: Sunday morning walkers, weren’t they?

SD: An’ there were two in front of ‘em like first, an’ they said, ‘Good mornin’.’ I said, ‘Good mornin’.’ I said, ‘Just look at yer.’ He said, ‘What’s to do now?’ I said, ‘It’s supposed to be a footpath that innit?’ He said, ‘Aye.’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘Look at ‘em’. I said, ‘You’re with ‘em aren’t yer?’ He said, ‘Oh aye, we’re with ‘em.’ I said, ‘Look at ‘em. Ten a-breast.’ I said, ‘They’ve not to go there.’ I said, ‘In another two or three year,’ I said, ‘there’ll be nothin’ growin’ there.’ An’ there won’t, will there?

WRM: No.

SD: Just trodden down. ‘Eughh,’ he said, ‘Bloody ol’ farmer, your allus grumblin’.’

WRM: Do you get a lot of low flying aircraft as well?

SD: Oh, aye, I’m frightened to death. [Laughs]

PD: Oh, sometimes…

WRM: Do they disturb the sheep, or have they got used to it?

SD: No, they get used to it.

WRM: Does everything get used to it?

SD: Everythin’ gets used to it, bar us.

WRM: Yeah.

SD: It shaks the ol’ ‘ouse though, an’ she thinks that they’re goin’ to drop on us at any minute. [Laughs]

PD: Oh, sometimes, I mean they’ve gone before...

WRM: Are there many grouse up there?

SD: Aye, a lot of grouse, aye.

WRM: So it’s not a bad moor?

SD: No, it’s a good moor.

WRM: Do they swidden it, you know, burn it?

SD: Burn it? Oh, aye. They’ve two keepers full time.

WRM: And you keep your sheep up there do you?

SD: Yeah.

WRM: And do they benefit from that? In winter I suppose particularly they will.

SD: They benefit from t’burnin’ an’ all, cheap benefit. They’ll follow t’burnin’, won’t they Adrian?

WRM: Aye. They go after the new shoots do they?

SD: Aye.

WRM: So generally speaking then you started off at a little farm when things cost next to nowt, and it didn’t matter whether you had owt really because there wasn’t much to spend it on, and now you’re at a farm, how many years later here? You started when? When did you take up farming then? What year was it?

SD: I started at t’beginnin’ o’ t’war. Just before t’war started.

PD: When we got married.

SD: I got married when I were twenty six, an’ I’m eighty one now.

WRM: [Laughs] And you still haven’t made your fortune then?

SD: Oh, aye. No, I’m strugglin’ yet. [Laughs]

PD: We’ve never ‘ad a lot of money to throw about.

WRM: No.

PD: An’ what they do nowadays you can’t do it. We can’t do it. No, we’ve never done it, you know? All these young ones that can spend fivers...

WRM: But anyway, you’ve got a good, big farm now, haven’t you?

SD: I’m alreet, aye.

WRM: You look after it, yeah.

SD: Yer see I’m too old now to look after it, but I’m not grumblin’ because I’ve done alright, I’ve done alright. I’ve no need to… don’t get me wrong, I’ve no need to work, I’ve no need to keep sheep.

WRM: What have you been doing tonight, fencing?

SD: Aye, but it’s only because... I’ll tell yer now, if it hadn’t ‘ave bin for them up theear we wouldn’t ‘ave bin ‘ere, because they don’t want us to sell it because they want to come on it when we’re finished. She’s forever sayin’, ‘Let’s get off , sell it, let’s be goin’.’

WRM: Anyway, better not open any old wounds ‘ad we? Lovely.

SD: Yer see, these young uns they’ll...

WRM: By the way, I’ll send you a copy of this before I publish it so that you can have a look.

PD: If you publish that...!

WRM: No, you can have a look through it and cross out anything you don’t like, alright? Is that fair do?

SD: Yeah.

WRM: Yeah?

SD: I’ve liked livin’ at Ponden Hall, tho’. It’s bin alright.

WRM: No, actually what I thought of doing this time was just to [write about farming] round Haworth, because for a lot of people Haworth to them is just the Brontës and they haven’t a clue what the farmer does. I mean it’s pretty obvious from your hikers that they’ve no idea what the land is used for or anything else.

SD: No, but yer see, it’s no use talkin’ about what Haworth does, because Haworth is a lot better than Stanbury. It’s Stanbury yer want to talk about. They’re a menace is walkers up ‘ere. Yer can go up theear, an’ yer put all your sheep back on t’moor, yer know? An’ yer can go up and they’ve left gate open, t’moor gate. All yer fields is full o’ sheep mornin’ after, and they reckon to be lookin’ after things, don’t they? Pennine walkers, I’ll tell ye now, Pennine walkers is not bad.

AB No, they respect it, don’t they?

SD: That’s right.

AB Where’s all t’six footpaths then up t’kirk?

SD: There’s one goes through Far Slack, all on that top; there’s one goes up t’fell, Heights, all on that top right t’kirk; one below it that goes through Higher Slack, one through Lower Slack up through... d’yer knows that narrer field of ‘orrockses?

AB Aye.

SD: Big ladder, both sides of what d’they call it to go up theear; one up ‘ere; one from Ol’ Snap; one from Whitestones, one from Ol’ Snap, an’ they all go o’er and when they get to Higher Ponden they go up that wall side right on t’top, tha knows what I mean? T’other ones come round and goes up where you walk. [Pause]

WRM: So when you’re talking about Haworth moors, you’re not talking about Haworth moors at all, are you?

SD: Well, they aren’t Haworth moors, they’re Stanbury moors are ours.

WRM: Yes, the ones where all the Brontë interest is. Where is the famous little farm, what do they call it?

SD: Withins.

WRM: Withins, is that on Stanbury?

SD: Aye, it’s on Stanbury, it in’t on Haworth moor that.

WRM: Which is Haworth moor, that’s the lower one is it?

SD: T’other side o’ t’beck, that’s Haworth moor; up watterfalls on yer left. When yer go up t’watterfalls the moor on yer left is Haworth moor an’ on yer right is Stanbury moor.

AB No, it isn’t... oh, aye, up watterfalls, yes, aye, that’s right.

WRM: So really, when people talk about the Haworth moors they’re not the Haworth moors, they’re the Stanbury moors: when they talk about High Withins and all that sort of thing.

SD: That’s right. It’s on Stanbury moor really.

AB Aye, but t’footpath will go off Haworth moor onto Stanbury moor.

SD: That’s right. Footpath comes off Haworth moor onto Stanbury moor to go to Withins.

PD: Top Withins.

WRM: Top Withins, yes.

SD: An’ I can tell, and Adrian’s father can tell, at Top Withins they ‘ad a beautiful roof, top an’ everything, an’ ‘ikers...

AB I can remember it ‘avin’ a roof on.

SD: Beautiful roof it was, no coddin’ about it, it was a beautiful roof. There’s nothin’ now. Folk ‘ave gone up tekin bits, tekin bits, tekin bits and they’ve just ruined it.

WRM: Why have they taken bits?

SD: Souvenirs.

WRM: And of course the Pennine Way comes along the top there doesn’t it too?

SD: Yes, it comes ovver t’top past Withins, but we’ve bin up theear me an’ Adrian’s father ‘ave been up theear shep’erdin’ an’ all that, an’ we’ve seen ‘em on top o’ t’roof chuckin’ stuff off. An’ we said, ‘Eh, what yer doin’?’ ‘Eughh....’ What can yer do wi’ them?

WRM: Actually, when yer up there you’re mobbed by sheep aren’t you, at Top Withins?

SD: Well yer aren’t mobbed, there’s a few about, an’ we’d rather they didn’t because it’s only wi’ these folk feedin’ ‘em, an’ they never done owt.

WRM: That’s right. No, that was the point I was making. Because they give ‘em sandwiches and things, don’t they?

SD: That’s right. An’ they’ll stand there waitin’ for somebody to come if it’d tek ‘em two days before they’ll go fend.

AB It’s an offence in Cornwall to feed them ponies, yer know?

SD: Yeah.

AB They’ve a sign up.

WRM: And it doesn’t do them any good at all, does it?

SD: No, it dun’t. Because they’re pinin’ away, waitin’ on somebody to come an’ give ‘em a bit. They daren’t go away because they’ll miss summat, yer see.

WRM: No, that’s why I mentioned it. I mean because if you mention it, some people might not feed them in future. And what sort of grub have they got up on the moor? They’ve got the heather shoots and what not?

SD: On Stanbury moor, there’s a bit of everythin’ on it. It’s a right good moor is Stanbury moor.

WRM: Is it? What, bilberry?

SD: Bilberry, heather, ling, white bent, the lot.

WRM: Did you hear what Wainwright said about fell walking on moors?

SD: No.

WRM: He says he first thing a walker has got to know about is the difference between bilberries and fresh sheep droppings! [Laughs]

SD: [Laughs] Well, they’re a bit thick if they don’t, aren’t they? But when yer get up theear, by gum. Yer know, I’ve right enjoyed bein’ up theear.

WRM: Yes, what is it about it you enjoy?

SD: Everything. You can’ stand up at top o’ t’kirk, or at Withins, an’ yer can see for miles an’ miles, can’t yer? In fact, when you get to what-they-call-it, so they tell me, I’ve never seen it missel’… but they tell me yer can see Blackpool Tower. But I’ve never seen it, ‘ave you?

AB No, I ‘aven’t, but I don’t know whether me father ‘as, I think me father might ‘ave.

SD: When yer get to t’stones up yonder, they tell me, but I’ve never seen it yet an’ I’ve looked and looked but I couldn’t see it.

WRM: So basically, up on the moors then you’ve got heather, white bent...?

SD: Ling, aye, white bent, all manner o’ stuff. I don’t know what they call it really but there’s a variation, an’ that’s what yer need on a reet good moor.

WRM: And the farmer wants to see sheep well spread out, does he?

SD: Yeah.

WRM: And so if you do get a cluster at High Withins, or Top Withins, it’s not a good thing at all?

SD: No, but there in’t as many as folk meks it appear. There might be fowa or five, that’s all. But there in’t a flock gathers round Higher Withins.

WRM: And do the farmers cooperate to gather the sheep?

SD: No, they all gather their own.

WRM: They do? Yeah, where do you bring…?

SD: I bring mine ‘ome, they tek [theirs]. An’ you can go up to Withins now and officially all of Withins belongs to me. But Harkers’ is on it, yer know there’s nothin’ to stop ‘em fra comin’ on, there’s only a beck between Haworth moor and Withins. They come on. But if everybody does all, yer know, if they’re right in their ‘ead yer can manage, but they get to t’pitch when some folk gets a bit geared up an’ they get too many on, yer know?

WRM: But generally speaking it’s not so bad?

SD: Not too bad at all.

WRM: What other beasts do you get up there? Foxes?

SD: Aye, foxes. You get stoats. You get a few, whatdtheycallits now, mink an’ all.

WRM: What, upon the moor? Yeah, oh, they follow the becks up, do they?

SD: Yer see, there used to be... when we sold Buckley, a woman who bought Buckley off us she made it into a mink farm, an’ there were a lot escaped from theear.

WRM: And they breed out in the wild, do they? Do you get as many curlews and lapwings as you did?

SD: No, very little now.

WRM: Yeah.

SD: It used to be you’d ‘ear curlews, yer know, on a night. Very few.

WRM: And the grouse though, they’re as common as they were?

SD: Yer can ‘ear them talkin’ away, aye.

WRM: Yeah, it’s a lovely sound.

SD: It’s two year sin, we brok record two year since up ‘ere, yer know?

WRM: How many?

SD: I don’ know, I’ve forgetten.

WRM: But it’s a good moor still, because a lot of moors are going down, aren’t they?

SD: Yeah, but last year we ‘ad a poor do.

WRM: Do you like grouse?

SD: I do, aye. A lot o’ folk don’ like ‘em, they say they’re a bit lingy, you know but ah like ‘em.

WRM: How do you like them cooked?

SD: Roasted.

WRM: How many grouse do you have to get to make a decent meal?

SD: Well. [Pause] The cheapest are on shootin’ days, yer know, when they allus call in with some. I never go shootin’ or owt like, but they call in and bring us a brace o’ grouse, that’s all I’m bothered about.

WRM: Do you get any black game about at all?

SD: No.

WRM: Did there used to be?

SD: No, never up ‘ere.

WRM: Because they’ve gone down all over.

SD: I’ll tell yer what we’ve got, we’ve got a pheasant or two comin’. And we’ve about seven or eight... what i’ the world do thee call them, Adrian, less than a pheasant?

Adrian Partridge?

SD: Partridge, aye, we’ve seven or eight partridge about now.

WRM: Ee well, thanks very much, lovely. So you’ve got some partridge as well, have you?

SD: About seven, seven or eight.

Adrian No little ducks about this time, are there?

SD: No, I haven’t seen any.

WRM: Do you get teal and things nesting up on the moor at all?

SD: No, we get a few mallard. They don’t nest up on t’moor, they’re down in th’ fields and up at wood an’ that like, yer know? But we get a hell of a lot o’ them Janada geese, by they’re a menace them.

WRM: Do they nest on the moors?

SD: Aye, they’re terrible them. Ninety at once.

WRM: On the reservoir?

SD: No, on yer fields! Just eatin’ away, eatin’ away.

WRM: Where do they come from, do they roost on the reservoir?

SD: Oh aye, they go on t’reservoir at night an’ all that, but durin’ day I keep givin’ them a blast, I’m sick on ‘em. Thee father, ah’ll bet he’s sick on ‘em an’ all.

AB Aye.

WRM: What they spread out over the area do they?

SD: Aye, they can come sixty or seventy at once an’ they’ll settle in this field an’ go on theear ‘til someone’ll throw a stone on or summat, then they go up an’ they go in t’somebody else’s. Ninety at once: yer can’t stand that tha knows.

WRM: Don’t people shoot them?

SD: Well, I do, aye.

WRM: But you’re legally entitled to, aren’t you, because they’re not preserved are they?

SD: Aye, but a lot o’ folk grumbles and growls if yer do, yer know, only because a lot of folk likes ‘em don’t they? These that don’t farm, they like ‘em.

WRM: Have you tasted a Canada goose?

SD: Aye they’re terrible.

WRM: Are they? [Laughs]

SD: Bitter as gall.

WRM: You didn’t hit an old one, did you, by mistake? [Laughs]

SD: I don’t know, I shot five wi’ one barrel one night. [Laughs] Lined ‘em up: bang, five o’ them. By, they’re as ‘eavy as lead. Right dark meat, an’ bitter. I’ve never ad one since, ah don’t want to.

WRM: They’re not very tasty then?

SD: Oh, they’re terrible. If I shoot one I’ll let yer know an’ yer can come forrit.

WRM: With domestic geese you always had to feed them a bit of corn, hadn’t you, towards the end? Green geese aren’t much good are they?

SD: Who has to feed geese, ‘as to feed ‘em ol’ oats last thing at night.

WRM: Ol’ what?

SD: Ol’ oats.

WRM: Yes, and do you keep geese?

SD: No, ah’ve jus’ given two away, am fed up on ‘em.

WRM: Why was that? [Laughs]

SD: Mekin a mess all o’er t’garden, mekin it on t’flags, an’ she said, ‘I’m sick o’ them geese’, I said, ‘I am an’ all’, so...

WRM: Have you kept geese for a long time?

SD: Aye, we’ve allus had geese knockin’ about. But Garnett Leach, when ah were a lad at Cullingworth, they used to keep a lot of geese an’ he used to feed ‘em, an’ they were, bye, they were fed real, an’ he always told me, ‘Ol’ oats, the last thing at night to go to bed on’.

WRM: That flavours them up does it?

SD: They didn’t walk it off, it were night time wa’n’t it; yer see, they were fed at night an’ that’s how they went on, an’ by God they were beautiful geese when they were killed at Christmas.

WRM: Ee, well thanks very much, lovely.

AB It would keep ‘em white wi’ oats too, wouldn’t it?

SD: Aye, but they were ‘finished’ an’ all, Adrian, yer know, bloom on ‘em, they were like a grape when yer finished ‘em.

WRM: Well, it’ll be nice just to have a little article on a bit of Haworth.

[End of interview - 00:59:47]