I grew up in the late 70s and early 80s and have very fond memories of my time with my Gran and Uncles at Old Farm in Houghton.
I remember that when I used to stayed at my Gran’s home, I was able to sleep in the same room that my Mum had had as a child -it had a small window that over looked the farmyard and dairy and a small fireplace along the outside wall that at times I wish I could have lit as the old farm house was often cold in the evenings and I used to rush to change and get into bed. The House had many clocks in all the rooms and along the hallway as my Grandad fancied himself as a bit of an horologist. My Nan used to have to stop some of the clocks so that that I would be able to sleep. I can still recall how I used to listen out for any noise that my Nan would make when she went downstairs to do breakfast for my uncle Paul before he went out to milk the cows. I do not recall a time when I managed to wake before her and help out with breakfast, however she always used to make me toast and marmalade at the table in the kitchen and would wait till I got up to eat her breakfast with me.
My Gran and I would often go for walks along the river bank from Houghton towards Bury, or along the South Downs Way and if I was there on shopping day we would go to Storrington or Arundel to get provisions. There would also be trips to Ian Hughes Farm (now Charlie’s) for eggs. The eggs were kept in a small shed in the yard and people used to help themselves to eggs and the trays and leave their money in the wooden box. In today’s world it all seems very trusting and a bit naive, but it worked well. My Nan was always baking so that she could give my uncles and anyone else who visited the farm tea and cake throughout the day.
As I mentioned I was never early enough, despite being up about 7 (which at around 9 years old I thought was very early) to help with the morning milking and breakfast. But I was able to help with getting the cows in from the fields in the afternoon. We used to herd them along the road from the fields down by Bury village along Houghton Lane towards Houghton and up the hill by the Farmhouse into the dairy. I remember in places where there was no or little hedging and I used to be able to walk along the field line to stop the cows from wandering up into the fields along the road. I was also allowed to feed the cows whilst my uncles were milking them. I had a feed shovel that I used pick up the food pellets with and I was able to put the pellets into the feeding troughs that the cows ate from whilst they were being milked. I think my uncles had lots of patience with me and I would often try to place the suction cups around the cows’ teats but I was not quick enough or dexterous enough to hold the heavy unit and place the cups in the right place. Milk was obviously in plentiful supply and my Gran would take the jug from the kitchen and open the refrigerated storage unit in the dairy to fill it up whenever was needed except of course after the milk had been collected by the tanker that visited daily.
There are other anecdotes that I could share about outside toilets and medicated toilet role that also evoke vivid memories but all of that seems relatively irrelevant really considering the simplicity and beauty that life seemed to hold for me as a child.