by Mrs J.R.B. Flint
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The author, aged about 9, with "Brumas" her cat (to her left) near the fig trees at the door from the house to the garden.

I used to help around the farm and I loved the harvest time the best. Years ago the corn was cut with a binder which made sheaves and these were then made into traves to dry and then later picked up and laid on a trailer and taken to the stack yard where they were put on elevator to make the stack until the time was right to have the stack thrashed. My job was to drive the tractor and when the trailer was full, I was able to have a ride on top of the load on its way back to the stack yard. Then later on in the year the thrashing contractors, Messrs.Keelings, would thrash the corn which would then be put in a silo in the barn and the straw would be made into bales for bedding for the cattle and pigs. I also helped sorting out the potatoes which were put over a riddle, the very small potatoes called chats would fall through the wired tray and were picked up and bagged and cooked and feed to the pigs. I also used to go with my dad to take the vegetables to the markets at Stratford and Spitalfields to help him unload and put on the wholesalers stands, one of which I remember being F & G. Mann.


My dad loved his horses and his famous horse called 'Tulip " which was a grey Shire, won the Memorial Cup at the Orsett Show. As he won it 4 years on the trot he kept the Trophy. In those days the Orsett Show was held on the first Saturday in September where the new Orsett Hall Restaurant is now. On the day of the Show he would be up early and shoe the horse, then braid the mane and tail with bass (better known as raffia) and ribbons. All the harness would be polished so would shine on the day. Dennis Hayter in the sixties was a young lad and took an interest in the horses and my Dad showed him how to shoe and braid the mane and tail and today he is a well known local farrier and judge of heavy horses. My Dad also liked ponies, I expect this was because he had one when he was a boy. One day with a friend he went down to the New Forest and bought home half a dozen wild ponies. He put them in the yard and had fun in trying to break them in and put a hemp halter on them on a long rope and made them go round in a circle to wear them down. Later on they were turned out onto the marshes and sometimes they got out and we got a phone call from the gate house at the Shell Refinery to say the ponies were out, so we had to gather up some help and try and get them back to the field.

"Tulip" and "Garlands" in the cattle yard with the thatched barn and stock shed beyond.

The author's father, Harry Bennet Smith, with "Bob" by the granary on the west side of the farmhouse, c 1948

As I was born at the end of the war, I recall a few stories my Dad told me about the wartime. Each week he had the Farmer and Stockbreeder magazine and he used to lie on the couch and read. Just across the way ITom the house was the garage and stables and annexed to this was the field called "the Hopit," where the cattle were. Each evening before he went to bed he would go and see if everything was alright. This particular evening he was reading the magazine and a bomb dropped in the field where the cattle were. He rushed outside to see what had happened and there was a big bomb crater and the cattle had been killed He always said that if had not stopped to look at the magazine he would have been in the field when the bomb dropped - so the Farmer and Stockbreeder saved his life. Another time before we had electricity to the house, we had Aladdin lamps and candles. One morning Mum looked out of the window to see the kitchen wooden table standing out in the garden. Dad had fallen asleep at the table and had knocked the candle over and set the table alight and he had to drag it out of the house.

In farming you have a lot to contend with. The weather conditions to work the land have to be just right. Then the rules and regulations such as the limit on the amount of potatoes grown; if you over-shot the mark you would have to pay a fine. He also grew sugar beet, which had to be taken all the way to Felsted sugarbeet factory, where it was weighed and sorted. Then there were the times when you took vegetables to market and they were not sold and they had to be picked up and brought home and put on the dung heap to rot and then later spread back on the land, hoping that the next load would sell - life was not easy. Nowadays six furrow reversible ploughs, enormous combines and other machinery make farffiing quicker and easier, but the good old days were the best!

Mrs Flint is the daughter of Harry Bennet Smith who farmed Great Garlands. After writing the article on Great Garlands which was published in Panorama 45, Randal Bingley met Mrs Flint by chance and was able to persuade her to contribute this interesting account from her childhood memories.

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