At the age of three I was given my first goat kid a Saanan type out of an unregistered dam who was giving a gallon a day, in those days that was a lot of milk that was my birthday present, I kept that kid until it was eighteen month old and then got it mated. In those days some of the milk was used to feed calves and lambs as mother and dad had a smallholding with which they kept cows, sheep calves, pigs also hens, cockerels and ducks, the cockerels were fed up for Christmas and sold, pigs were kept for pork and bacon, the neighbours used to bring waste food and vegetables peelings for the pigs. The neighbours would be repaid when a pig was killed with a plate of pigs fry which I took to them.
My mother would make goat milk cheese and thick custard then pour it into egg cups and call it ice cream. We lived on all the things that dad and mother grew or made.
In the war we had seventeen evacuees live with us, this meant my mother would do the washing in the copper which she would light early in the morning to get it done by ten o clock then scrub out the copper to cook the stew in it. I was sent to the butcher to get two breasts of lamb that would cost sixpence each, she would then add all the vegetables and potatoes out of the garden to feed use all.
In the 1940 my father bought a milk round with thirteen schools to deliver to at six o clock in the morning, this meant I had to get up and go with him before I went to school, we would get back after eight o clock, have breakfast, feed and milk the ten goats we had, then off to school. Home for dinner I would feed and clean out the rabbits we were kept for the table plus any other jobs that needed doing as mother was not well by this time, I was ten now and my mother was really very sick and spent a lot of time in hospital or in bed. At the age of eleven I did not go to school as I was looking after mother who was confined to bed.
Aged thirteen my mother died, I did not go the school again then after four days I left for good. I had a younger sister Mary who was not strong and went to live with my auntie May for a while.
After a lot of though dad said we will have to sell the goats but I said I am not selling mine but the cows were more valuable as we had the milk round. We did sell them but I bought one about six month later. By this time I was working with dad on the milk round, coming home, getting the dinner doing the house work then going out in the dairy helping dad with the washing up of the milk bottles, buckets and churns. We would then have to go and get the rest of the milk from Mrs Warren farm as we did not get enough from our cows to fill the milk bottles for the schools the milk on the round was sold from the buckets with a pint and a half pint measure into peoples jugs. I did this until I was eighteen then went back to farming on a friends farm at Broughton Astley, this was where I met Maurice in the October, we got engaged at Christmas and married the following September, I had incident at work and was not able to work on the farm.
This was when I sold my goats as Maurice said we are not keeping them. Maurice worked on my bosses cousin’s farm at Sapcote, where he lived, my auntie Ida and uncle Ben lived three doors from him so I used to stay with them some nights in the weeks and always go home for weekends as I did not work after one O’clock on Saturdays and Maurice worked every other week end as a cowman. When we got married we lived with my dad for six months then we got a house at Sapcote as he found it hard biking backwards and forwards seven days a week.
I soon got fed up at home with nothing to do so we agreed to foster two little girls. We took the Leicester Mercury and on Thursday it had all Smallholding in for sale with a house, outbuildings and land. I rang up about it and we went to look on Sunday afternoon, it belong to a Irish Doctor and let to a man with greyhounds where not in the best of condition. The smallholding had good building and fetches, but the doctor was more interested in talking about my bad leg, after a while I said can we talk about the smallholding ,the price and have a look round, It was £1,145 Maurice said we could not afford that so I went up to see dad as I worked for him for very little money, when we got married dad said if you find a place you like I will help you buy it. After a lot of ‘yes’ing and ‘no’ing I went ahead and bought the smallholding we out telling him. This meant I could I could have the goats back and I bought six nondescripts AN type, when Maurice came home from work and saw the goats, ”what are these you will not get any milk from them for a long time”, they were only young about six to eleven months old, but it got me back with goats in 1956 after a two year break. Later the man I bought the goats from put to his AN type male to them and after five months I had got milk again so back to cheese, yoghurt and milk for the house a big help for Betty our young daughter had eczema, the rest went to feed the pigs. I kept these goats for a while then brought a Saanen type milker which I kept until we met Pauline and Herbert Blakmore, this was when we brought our first pedigree goats. Bought Barberla AOV, Beaner B.A. and Cheswadine Mefue AN.
We went to our first goat show at Connie Wickets at Harrington with the goats and children in the back seat of our car following Pauline and Herbert with their children and goats but they had a car and trailer. We won our first rosettes, after that where was no stopping us every weekend out at a show. This was the start of bigger things to come.
Next episode later
Jean Brown M.B.E. (Yvonjean Herd)