October 18, 2008

Fitting milking machines and cheeky kids

Farming in the North Pennine Dales

By Eric Wilson

Lead mine tailings in Upper Yorkshire Dales

The next job was pretty well straight forward, or at least it would have been if it hadn’t been for the farmer’s kids. I think it must have been school holidays and they had been sitting in the window waiting for us to arrive. I say “us” because we usually had a trainee aboard. In this case it was Nigel, an athletic type of lad who didn’t believe in modern climbing aids like ladders. He just climbed up the walls!

We barely had time to open the van door and the kids were there; a girl who said very little and an older boy who never shut his gob. At first we though he was a bright young lad, and went along with the theory that he had to ask questions to learn. But when he asked the same question five or six times on the trot, it began to get rather wearing.

It was what, which, and why to everything we attempted to do. The other hassle was to keep him out of mischief and try not to do him an injury with the long lengths of pipe we were slinging about.

It got round to 10am and Nigel thought he would have a cup of tea. He took out his flask and looked around for somewhere to sit down, only to be confronted with the inevitable of “what are you going to do?”, and “what’s that for” and so on.

Nigel suggested to “Junior” that perhaps his mother would have some lemonade or sweets for him. But it was to no avail and the chattering continued. He told Nigel that he (Nigel) couldn’t have his tea or a snack because he hadn’t got a table to eat it off.

That gave Nigel an idea. He told the kid he didn’t need a table. He took a sandwich from his box, put it in his mouth and proceeded to climb into the roof of the byre where he hung upside down with his legs hooked over a beam, and continued to chew. The results were dramatic, the kids eyes bulged and remarkably he was lost for words. He took off out of the buildings, closely followed by his sister and we didn’t see anyone again until nearly lunch time.

Then the mother appeared in the doorway holding the two children by the hands to ask if we needed any tea making, while glancing around the roof , no doubt looking for the “monkey man”! I don’t know who was more curious in the end. We finished the job without any further visits from the kids, so we never did discover what they told their mother. Another of life’s little mysteries.

The byre - a lovely warm place to be on a frosty morning

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