The Farmer & His Wife

John Tay­lor loves a real fire.

The People's Friend - - Contents -

ON the east­ern bound­ary of our farm, there’s a burn that, over hun­dreds of years, has worn a chan­nel down to the rocks, leav­ing slop­ing sides, now cov­ered with trees.

I love to walk along its top bank with Jip, our sheep­dog. The other day there was a pair of dip­pers sit­ting on two rocks. They’re so en­ter­tain­ing to watch.

Dip­pers al­ways re­mind me of wait­ers dressed in long­tailed evening jack­ets and white shirts. All they lack is a black bow-tie.

A sad­der sight was the three old trees blown down in the gales. I made a mental note to re­cover them for fire­wood – noth­ing beats a real log fire for cheer at any time of year.

In my young days, when money was scarce, we burned lit­tle coal but a lot of wood. If there was a fallen tree, we’d hitch up two horses and fas­ten a chain to the tree and haul it home.

Over the next few nights, Dad and I would saw the tree into suit­able lengths, us­ing a two-handed cross cut saw. Then, with a long-han­dled axe, we’d split the wood into smaller-sized logs for the fire.

Hard labour? It cer­tainly was! But in those days we looked on it as just an­other of those win­ter tasks.

Did I ever tell you about the three-day sale of the ef­fects of Mrs Purves of Earl­shall? Anne and I went along, not in­tend­ing to buy any­thing.

How­ever, as we walked into the sale, Anne took a pad­dle from the girl on the door. Against its num­ber the girl listed Anne’s name and ad­dress.

When a big cop­per caul­dron came un­der the ham­mer, Anne waited till the last mo­ment then held up her num­bered pad­dle to make a bid. It was knocked down to her.

I asked Anne why she’d bought it.

She gave me one of her looks and said it would do as a log bas­ket for the lounge.

She was right, of course. Now full of logs, it sits be­side the fire and looks the part.

Com­ing back to those fallen trees by the burn. I thought how things had changed from my dad’s days.

Now there was no need for chains and ropes to haul the tree home.

I went back to the farm, got the chain­saw and the fork­lift. I cut the tree into three lengths and lifted them with the fork­lift back to the yard.

There I cut them into small lengths with the chain­saw and as a re­sult I think we have enough wood to keep a roar­ing fire in our lounge for the next ten years!

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