04/05/2008 13:53

Fen characters

 

Fen characters

Of the many facets of agriculture one stands out in my memory -the mole catcher or "underground hangman" as he was called, for his traps literally hanged the mole in its burrow. Now the mole is a very small animal but the upheaval it causes on the land in search of its prey, the worm, can cause havoc in emerging crops. The first molecatcher I remember well was Levi Armsby who was also the landlord of the Anchor Inn. Apart from his traps the molecatcher carried another weapon named the spud. This was like a minautre spade and shone like silver. I was once with Levi when he caught a mole working and spudded it onto the surface. I made a grab for it-I was about six at the time and was rewarded with a bitten finger. It was then that I learned that a sharp tap on the snout of the creature despatched it instantly and I have never been bitten since-well not by a mole!

 

Prominent on the village scene were the dykers, men who were employed to keep the dykes in order to maintain unimpeded drainage of the fen. The spent all the summer months cutting reeds and rubbish from the dykes and indeed much of the winter to ensure the water had a free flow to the pumping station.

 

These were men of men-they swung a scythe for seven hours a day, precariously mounted on the brink of the dyke leaving the banks looking as though a lawnmower had been used. Their names were Tom Chaplin and George Crane. Their predecessor was a man named Page Cole who hated me because I used to make rafts to float on the dyke. He invariably hit one of these with his scythe which broke the point off. He reckoned that I would finish off in prison . I think I was more scared of him than I was of the awful day of judgement which the then rector The Rev AJC Young assured us would sort us all out, with undertones that larger contributions to the collection in church would mitigate our guilt. I wonder how he got on-I digress.

 

There were a number of small holders in the village, most of whom kept a cow and reared the resultant stock these produced. We always had a bullock growing up and looked forward to the day it would be sold at Ely market. At two years oldthey used to weigh about 12-14 hundred weight and I remember dad coming home overjoyed from the market with £70 for a bullock-completely forgetting the one thousand or so occasions he or I had fed the animal. It would be nice to think one could buy the front leg for that price now.

 

—————

Back


Parish magazine 1897

04/05/2008 12:54

January 1897

  January 1897   ANOTHER year is gone...

Read more

—————

04/05/2008 12:56

February 1897

  February 1897 ONE great white sheet of...

Read more

—————

04/05/2008 12:59

March 1897

  March FLOODS owing to the sudden thaw, and...

Read more

—————

04/05/2008 13:00

April 1897

  April THE CEMETERY.—-On Monday evening,...

Read more

—————

04/05/2008 13:02

May 1897

  May OUR first words must be those of...

Read more

—————

04/05/2008 13:03

June 1897

  June THE sixtieth year of Her Majesty the...

Read more

—————

04/05/2008 13:05

July 1897

  July THE past month has been one of varied...

Read more

—————

04/05/2008 13:06

August 1897

  August   RARELY have the crops looked...

Read more

—————

04/05/2008 13:07

September 1897

  September THE past has been a month almost...

Read more

—————

04/05/2008 13:08

October 1897

  October Two more Harvest Festivals have...

Read more

—————


Contact

Littledownham


Parish Magazine 1898

04/05/2008 13:16

January 1898

  January DURING the last month we have been...

Read more

—————

04/05/2008 13:20

February 1898

  February FORTUNATELY the great dark war...

Read more

—————

04/05/2008 13:21

March 1898

  March OUR first words in this month's...

Read more

—————

04/05/2008 13:22

April 1898

  April WAR at all times is a very terrible...

Read more

—————

04/05/2008 13:22

May 1898

  May FLOWER SHow.-A meeting of the...

Read more

—————

04/05/2008 13:23

June 1898

  June THE Jumble Sale in behalf of the...

Read more

—————

04/05/2008 13:25

July 1898

  July THE last month has been an eventful...

Read more

—————

04/05/2008 13:26

August 1898

  August ALL over England men are now busy...

Read more

—————

04/05/2008 13:27

September 1898

  September THE Harvest Thanksgiving at...

Read more

—————

04/05/2008 13:28

October 1898

  OCTOBER BITS ABOUT TEMPERANCE.-Some very...

Read more

—————

04/05/2008 13:29

November 1898

  November THE Annual Tea at Downham, was...

Read more

—————