Mike Henderson on Harvest
Yes, I suppose I started helping out at the age of about 10 or 11, down at Newclose, which is a couple of hundred yards from where I live.
I was friendly with the family of the cowman at Newclose and he said, “Do you want to come and do a bit of bale cart, you know, hay time and harvest, stacking the bales and whatever, earn a bit of pocket money?” and I’d go in at every opportunity ‘cos you know, in those days money wasn’t as readily available perhaps as it is now to kids.
My parents were … well my father was on a fairly low wage. Mum was obviously not working as such and brought up the family, so I thought well, yes, if I can earn a few bob, I’ve got it to spend. And I mean in those days you didn’t think about saving it.
It was ‘I’ve got some money in my pocket, what can I go and spend it on?’ you know. Sweets, fishing tackle or something like that.
We had a fad of going fishing and that, but yes, I enjoyed it, I enjoyed it. I mean two or three of the kids in the family of my age would be down there, and we’d spend all day in the fields, you know?
Quite happy to be out there at 9 o’clock at night when perhaps we should have been at home asleep, but weekends, summer holidays was excellent because it coincided with harvest, and I suppose that sort of set me up really, although I didn’t intend to become full time in agriculture.
I wanted to be an electrician but I failed a colour eye test when I was in secondary school and by that time I suppose you know, I’d got the bug to work on the farm and so I ended up being employed full time at Newclose, when I left school.
Took a pay cut, ‘cos when I was casual you know, at weekends and holidays, 3 bob an hour.
When I started work full time I was down to 2s 6d an hour. That came as a shock but there, you’ve got to go through the system haven’t you?