PARK HOUSE 1913: Frank Fisher. This record of past times written by Frank Fisher on the 3rd December 1913 about Park House Farm, Wreay, must also be very typical of the family farm that was home for Joseph Bell in Farlam prior to leaving home aged 15, to begin his apprenticeship in 1876 with R & H Stephenson & Co, Shipyard in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Frank’s essay which was carefully written in clear cursive writing with few corrections and only a few spelling mistakes gives fascinating insight into farming life in Cumberland just prior to the 1st World War.
“It is not a very large one, being about one hundred acres. Most of the land is used for grazing. About thirty acres of it is hilly ground. We have about three hundred sheep and about seventy cattle. Having not much ploughing, the most we do is about forty acres. We have four horses to do the ploughing and a trap horse. We use the hilly ground for grazing the sheep and cattle.
We have a self-binder, a machine which is a great important reaper, it binds the corn as it cuts and so saves all the trouble of binding the sheaves, we also have a mowing machine.
My father gets two servant men and one servant girl. We have two sheep dogs. The land is well watered by the river Peteril. We have about one acre of potato land. We have two meadows. We grow about twenty acres of turnips. The corn we grow is cut by the self-binder. We have a corn-crusher to crush the corn for the horses.
The cows have the hilly land to graze in. The milk we get from the cows is separted and the separated milk is given to the calves. We have twelve cows. The cows stop in on winter nights and go out through the day. In summer the cows are out day and night.
There is a dutch barn joying to the buildings. In the dutch barn the corn in kept. We grow about twenty cares of corn. Most of the corn we grow is put in the dutch barn. What we can’t get into the dutch barn is put into stacks. All the hay is put in the dutch barn. We sometimes make two stacks if we have to feed the sheep away in the fields. We get the steam thresher to thresh the corn. After the corn is threshed we take it to the mill to get it made into otemeal.
There is a quary in our land and we have to rail it off to keep the sheep and cattle from falling in. Before we did this one of our best bullocks fell in and got its neck broken. We sent for the butcher right away and he butched it. Last summer we lost three of our sheep in the flood. They were found at Carlisle in the Eden. We buy black cattle in the winter and fatten them and sell them in the spring. We generally have about one hundred lambs. We get an extra man to look after the lambs in lambing time, because the other men have no time.
I hope that I have been able to give you some idea of the usual size of a Cumberland farm which has about one to two hundred acres of ploughing, grazing and meadow land”
This Frank Fisher essay appeared in’Pine Cone’ the Newsletter of The Friends of St Mary’s Church, Wreay, Cumbria in May 2016. The researcher Adrian Allan discovered the Frank Fisher essay at the Carlisle Archive Centre.