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.