I started working a couple of days in an office in the local town as we didn’t seem to have any money coming in, and although we had only just got married we could not live on love alone; we did need to buy food and other things.
Mr. H was now able to drag himself up on to a tractor and do some of the work in the fields. Having had his licence taken away he could not drive any vehicle on the roads, so, before I went to work, I had to move the tractors, trailers and equipment to the right fields and then in the evenings, bring them home again. We had some land on the other side of the village and on the mornings I worked, one of our lovely farming neighbours Michelle, very kindly collected Mr. H and off they would go to check the bullocks and sheep in the fields away from the farm. Of course this started the village telegraph talking as people seemed to think there must be something else going on! Michelle had a little mini and Mr. H would fold himself up in it two days a week and go off to check the animals. I don’t actually think he did much checking as he was still not able to walk very well, but Michelle was brilliant.
I also had trouble holding full loads of straw and hay when driving the tractor and trailers downhill. My legs are not very long and I used to have to jump up and down on the brake pedal with two feet in order to make an impression. This worked fairly well, although in some cases it did terrify the drivers of vehicles coming up hills towards me, until a couple of years later, when I was eight months pregnant and I was bringing a full load of hay back to the farm. Even with two feet on the brake pedal I was not even make an impression. Mr. H was on the tractor in front with a friend who was driving down our steep drive for the first time. I was getting closer and closer to the other tractor but I just could not slow my tractor down as the bump was getting in the way and I ended up wedged between the door and the steering wheel. The tractor had twelve gears and I was in the bottom gear, so my only options were to stay on board and run into the back of the tractor in front, or to get off. So I got off and went to get Mr. H; his face was a picture when I tapped him on the shoulder, but he ran back and, leaping, well dragging himself up on to the tractor, stopped it in time. The next day I rang the doctor and asked if there was any chance that Mr. H could have his licence back as he only two months of the ban to run and it seemed it was less of a risk giving him his licence back than letting me carry on driving tractors.
The first time Mr. H drove through the village the phone started ringing as people obviously knew exactly when he should be driving again and they were ringing to make sure I knew he was driving!
Whenever I took a load of hay, corn or straw through the village with the tractor, the elderly gentlemen who sat on the seat in the square would get up and shuffle forwards to watch me coming. Somehow I managed not to knock off anyone’s gate post or wall and I would smile and wave to them as I went past. After about a month they started to nod at me, then after another month I got a smile and after about six months they started waving and sometimes even waving their sticks too, which I thought was a great success. I think they were always a little disappointed that I didn’t provide them with more entertainment, but I am sure they never gave up hoping as they had obviously heard the stories about me losing loads of straw and taking a few chunks out of our barns and house. Personally I think they were lucky I didn’t run them over.
Every summer we employed a contractor as we did not have a combine harvester and he would come to cut our corn. He provided these gentlemen with a bit of interest as when we were doing the harvest, he would always manage to take down a stone or two from someone’s wall and the phone would be very hot with people ringing to tell us what had happened. He tried very hard not to do it, but with houses on both sides of the village and a very narrow street, it was nearly impossible to get past.
When Mr. H and I got engaged my mother had made him promise that I would not lift many bales as she didn’t think it was good for a woman of child bearing years! That summer I lifted around 12,000 bales, that being 4,000 stacked in the field, thrown, well not in my case, more a struggle, on to the trailer, unloaded and re-stacked in the barn. All good fun if I didn’t weaken. My mother was mortified and my father kept being dispatched to help. Poor man, he had a bad back to start with and by the end he could hardly move. We also bribed friends with sacks of wood and joints of meat in payment for help and we actually had a very happy and enjoyable harvest. Nowadays the harvest is not like that at all as it is much more mechanized easier and quicker to do but not quite as sociable.
I was eventually banned from stacking trailers as I kept building ‘banana loads’ which look like upside down pyramids. We would rope them down and Monty would lie prostrate on the top as we trundled home with me driving and him shouting at me to avoid the bumps, walls, gateposts and traffic, yells of ‘don’t forget to indicate and change gear ringing in my ears!’ We didn’t lose too many loads but the same cannot be said for the gateposts.