Sunday, 10 June 2012

Isn't It Time Somebody Made A Rural Time Machine?

"I talk to walls.  You write a blog."
I often find my self watching historical rural programmes on television.  Victorian Farm and Edwardian Farm are two of my favourites.  Think it's because I used to visit my grandparents farm in Ireland and help (get in their way) make hay by hand with horse and cart.   The smells, sounds and sight of a horse working are something that stays with you all your life.

Every town and village had a blacksmith who made horse shoes, fixed and made farm equipment like machinery and farm gates and repaired anything you wanted.  Now like everything else sensible and sedate and noble, they seem to be confined to the history books for ever.

But why is my cry.  I was reading recently (probably Google) that it was quicker to get round London in the 1830's with a horse and carriage, than it is today with a car.  Interesting what?

Now  we live in these days of rising fuel costs and we are often reminded of climate change, carbon footprints and global warming.  Is the time coming when the horse can come back to work the land, even transport goods and people?  There are horse drawn trams in the Isle of man and boats are used to pull narrow boat cruises on some of Britain's canals.

I have a  little Ford 3000 tractor.  She's called Anna Ford (named after the news presenter and she is a Ford) and I wouldn't really want to part with her.  She's even mentioned in my book.  However, I wonder if it would be possible to purchase a pony and cart and use it around the farm and to get about?

The only thing what puts me off is the crazy speed limits on Irish rural roads.  Eighty kilometres an hour.  Which is about 50mph in English mileage terms.  Would motorists slow down or would they frighten the horse/pony to death?  Would I be able to source a mobile farrier that is reliable and doesn't want a hundred quid (Euros) every few months to put factory made shoes on it?

Problems, problems.  Does anybody know how to make a rural time machine?  It would make life a lot easier.

Any thoughts on horse transport please?


  1. Yes, wouldn't it be nice to have a horse & cart, probably enough for the smaller holding.
    Big plus being able to feed it from a field, and a filly can always have another horse.

    Can't remember a lot of working horses, but there was a rag man came round up until the early 60s with a pony and flat cart.

    Massey-Ferguson, the little grey ones, were the thing, probably not much more power than one of the bigger horse breeds, and a lot more noisey and smelly.
    But they had the advantage of not needing fed and were very easy to handle.

    Appleby gypsy horse fair this month was the place to be to see the horses, and the near misses on some of the roads.
    But most of the horses they use on the roads are pretty much bomb-proof, they trot along the A66 pulling the traditional caravans with cars and wagons hurtling past sometimes inches away.

    I beleive the day will come when the horse becomes in big demand again; don't think we'll see it, but the oil's gonna run out soon.
    I heard somewhere (rightly or wrongly) that a London brewery was re-introducing horse-drawn drays, it's actually a faster / easier / more economic way of getting about London.

    Thinking about building an ark, came back to flooded fields, brown rivers, soggy garden and very long grass.
    Raggy cat seems happy to welcome us, it's in front of the fire, it's still cold enough to put it on for an hour or two.

  2. I really enjoyed reading that Cumbrian.

    Donkeys are worth nothing now and I would love to get one or a pony or horse and cart. It's the road speeds that puts me off - 80 kmph. Why do the powers that be allow such ungodly speeds on roads the width and made for horse and cart?

    There's still one character round here who goes to the farm centre with his horse and cart and cycles to town on his black Raleigh bike from way back.

    You should visit Appleby gypsy horse fair Cumbrian. It must be an incredible sight.

    Horses are easier on the land and you can feed them very cheaply. I agree with you that the oil will run out. I have hear that in Ukraine lots of farmers still use them.

    Massey Ferguson grey. We look fondly on them like people look at steam trains. Harry Ferguson was a genius inventing the three point linkage.

    I need to get my petrol strimmer out. My lawnmower died a few years ago. Seem to be forever strimming grass and cutting hedges. Didn't some clever person say:

    The Definition of an Hedge:

    Man's statement of arrogance against nature.

    Nature seems to always wins though.


  3. No road tax, insurance, or MoT for a horse either, and it'll take you home from the pub without your assistance, no drunk driving either.
    Got to admit though, it could be pretty scarey on your narrow country roads, we have some like that in Cumbria, and they're bad enough in daylight.

    I like the steam train analogy.
    Grey Massey, then came Fordson Major, then David Brown white elephant, then they just kept getting bigger and with un-pronouncable foreign names, 25 gears, padded seats and safety cabs with air-con and stereo players.
    Nice invention the 3-point linkage, but I think the PTO was quite a good idea as well, wonder how many careless fingers it's claimed?

    Hedges, I think my dad spent three-quarters of his spare time trimming our privet with a pair of hand shears, but they wouldn't stop growing.
    Been dry here today. I might get at the grass tomorrow if it doesn't rain.

  4. A lot of the side roads (boreens) bo means cow and reen means lane in Irish, Brian Boru means(Bo (cow) Ru (tax), he introduced a cow tax,don't get any ideas Mr Cameron! Any way, the lanes are very narrow even only wide enough for one car yet they are still the same speed limit of the main roads.

    The verges and hedges are also very overgrown and the 'powers that be' say they shouldn't be cut back until after August (wildlife act/bird nesting season), yet domestic houses are allowed to trim their hedges. I don't understand that one?

    Tractors seem to be status symbols in a lot of rural areas. The New Holland, Massey Ferguson, John Deere, Lamborghini (for driving through Monte Carlo perhaps?) seem to be the BMW/Ferrari's of the rural world. I have a old Ford 3000(early 70's) and I am quite fond of the old girl. Must admit I get a bit dewy eyed when I see some of the old girls. Talked to a man about his Bulldog Laing at an agricultural show. She purred like a cat and was built in 1912. Think David Browns are made in Huddersfield? Can't say I like their gearbox. Reverse is forward and...

    No doubt military training taught your father how to keep everything so pristine? When you plant an hedge you give yourself a job for life. There's a lot to be said for a dry-stone wall.


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