10 things only farmers over 40 will have experienced

It’s all very well being young, but the “yoof” don’t know everything. There are 10 things you have to be over 40 (and in some instances, considerably more senior still) to recall, have experienced or have any appreciation of whatsoever.

Abertay sacks

Abertay ads

A series of ads featuring an array of semi-clad women, sometimes “wearing” these potato bags. Our changing sensibilities have rendered such an approach unlikely nowadays, but a generation of men were familiar (sometimes, a little too familiar) with the Abertay ladies.

The summer of 1976

Summer of 1976

© Rex

Rivers ran dry, the ground cracked open and, unfamiliar with the term “climate change”, we simply called it a drought and sweated a lot. While we’re on the topic of weather, young whippersnappers probably won’t remember the great storm of 1987. And they certainly won’t have endured the big freezes of ’47 and ’63.

See also: 15 words that have a completely different meaning on the farm

‘The Minister’

Christopher Soames

‘The Minister’ Christopher Soames © Rex

Today, the politicians responsible for farming have complicated titles and work hard to come across as “one of us”, but years ago everyone simply referred to “The Minister”. He (and it was always a man in the old days) would be well-dressed, well-spoken and well-off. He’d also smoke a pipe.

Being unreachable

Farmer walking in a field

© Rex

Mobiles might be great for efficiency and safety, but farmers used to be out of touch for hours – if not days – on end. It’s a feeling of tranquility and isolation that we don’t get to experience nowadays. The downside was that if you got a breakdown it would inevitably be in the field farthest from the workshop or farmhouse – cue a long trudge back.

Stubble burning

Stubble burning

© Rex

Forget the plumes of smoke and soot clouds that infuriated your non-farming neighbours, this was one of the most satisfying jobs of the year. It even got rid of blackgrass. OK, there were a few rules but basically you just struck a match and watched it spread like wildfire. Literally.

Getting through foot-and-mouth

Foot-and-mouth outbreak of 1967

© Rex

Young people think they have endured crises, but this was the mother of all crises. There was the 2007 outbreak, but the 2001 was on a bigger scale and you really had to live through it to have an appreciation of the horror of it. The very mature still remember the original epidemic – the tragic and terrible events of 1967.

Humping small bales

Loading straw bales on to lorry by hand

© Rex

Spending days chucking them around made your back ache and your hands would be red-ragged from the string but, boy, was there a sense of satisfaction from getting that pitchfork action right. As for stacking them, well, that was a real art.

Butter mountains

Buying butter

© Rex

Often heard in the 1980s, this term referred to the vast quantities of the product stockpiled in intervention stores by what’s now known as the EU. Along with the infamous “wine lakes”, it was a controversial policy that saw “unwanted” produce bought, supporting the price at farm level, and subsequently offloaded onto the world market.

Using shank’s pony

Farmer herding sheep on foot

© Rex

Before quad bikes were invented, people on rugged and hilly terrain walked a lot further. They didn’t just walk a bit – they walked miles and miles. In extreme cases, it wasn’t so odd to shepherd on horseback but they were certainly fit in those days.

Simple tractors

Farmer driving old tractor

© Rex

Tractors had levers and pedals rather than buttons and screens. The people who drove them certainly weren’t pampered with luxuries such as power steering, air conditioning and radios. Some of these machines didn’t have cabs. Hell, some barely had seats.

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