The story begins. Boy meets girl. Boy marries girl. A union of two people. The adventure begins!
Green Lane Farm was just as the label suggests – a lane! Well to be truthful it was a bridle way so overgrown it was impassable and had a broken bridge over a flooding stream.
It was an evolution from bare land to farm that was carried out by My husbands mother and father, Doreen and Peter, using sheer grit and determination and hard work.
The land was bought in the late fifties for £2,200 which cost them £120/year In repayments.
Peter bought his first three cows off his employer who took the money from his wages to pay for them. The milk went into the employers churns and he was paid accordingly. Some of the land was farmed for corn, some for potatoes. They let some land for grazing of horses. They sold logs in Crawley which was cut from overgrown hedgerows on the farm. Peter did contracting work where necessary.
They lived in a caravan that was bought out of savings. Cows were hand milked to begin with. Money made from milk cheques went towards feeding and building up the herd. Money for everything else had to be earnt from contracting, grazing or selling products in Dorking. Runner beans were particularly lucrative. Doreen was the “stockman” taking care of the herd so that Peter could work elsewhere!
They increased their stock organically and then the government introduced a small farms scheme. It involved a loan which had to be paid back but it allowed them to to buy another ten cows.
Electricity was installed in 1958 for £216 less a £72 grant.
A mark IV bale was anchored in the yard next to the buildings. This was a four stall, two unit abreast parlour with raised floor and feeding troughs and cost £50 complete with electric and standby petrol engines. Doreen could put 22 cows an hour through it. Milking took her about two hours from start to finish.
A bungalow was planned on the back of an envelope with plans that it would take a year or two to build. It was an original “self build”. Most of the work was carried out by Peter and a friend with some contractors used for trades such as electricians and roofers. There was a local brick works in Newdigate where Peter collected the 14,000 bricks himself to save money. The house cost about £900.
At their peak they had 120 Jerseys and Doreen had names for everyone of them!
It was a labour of love that they carried on with until the day they died. The dreams changed as time went on but it was always about “the farm”.
Roll forward fifty odd years and there so many people trying to live the dream. Escaping the rat race, buying some land and being self sufficient, living off the land. People dream of growing their own food, reducing their bills, trying to live off the grid. Whether it be keeping chickens, raising your own weaners for meat, keeping bees, providing glamping, we all have our dreams and how we get there is what makes us who we are.
We inherited a farm that had been built on Doreen and Peters dreams…..where do we go from here…..
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We only have today. Let us begin”