I am now going back to the 1962/3 before I was married, it was often very cold at this time of year. I used to get up at around 5.00 am to get the cows in for milking as we had yet to build the Cubicle House to keep the cows inside.
Sometimes when it was particularly cold and wet we kept the cows overnight in the cowshed but there was only room for thirty six of them in the cowshed so some had to stay under the lean-too to keep out of the weather, usually about 10 to twelve were the unlucky ones, usually the ones giving the least milk!
So it’s 5.00 am and the alarm goes off, time to get up, it’s cold, the ice was on the inside of my bedroom window and I did not have to get dressed as I had gone to bed with my clothes on.
I go downstairs and use water from a flask of hot water left by my Mother the night before to make a cup of tea. Wellies on and torch in hand it’s off to the Dairy and to get the milking machines out to start milking.
Into the cowsheds and switch on the lights and it’s warm and cozy from the cows who have been in there all night quietly lying down chewing the cud, a few moans from them as they are disturbed because the next task is cleaning away the bedding so as to be able to get the milking machines next to them to start the milking.
Ron was the chief herdsman who worked with me and together we would start the process of milking the cows and once around twenty cows had been milked and the milk was running over the cooler it was time for me to start putting the milk into cartons ready for delivery.
Vining’s Farm: Fresh milk round in the 1960s
Vining’s Farm had a fresh milk round in Chandler’s Ford in the 1960s and were one of the first farms to start home delivery in cardboard wax coated cartons sealed with a metal clip.
We had a cartoning machine that I would operate to carton the fresh milk load it onto the milk van to start deliveries.
I would set off on the milk round and leave Ron and my Father to finish the milking and clean down the cowshed and wash up all the milking machines.
Remembering that in 1962 there was no Millers Dale, and Hiltingbury estate was still being developed but my milk round was all round Hursley Road, Hiltingbury Road, Pine Road, over past the Wide Awake Café, Half Way Inn and I would always stop outside McMahons Paper shop to have breakfast that consisted of a pint of milk and a bar of Kit Kat.
All my deliveries were done by me running at full pelt, there are “Milkman” stories I could recount here but that will be for another time.
I had a great number of customers and had to get back to the Farm for afternoon milking at around 3.00 pm.
Winter and snow in 1963
In 1963 as far as I can remember the snow started at Christmas time and lasted through to early March, with record low temperatures at night, regular snowfalls but not once was a milk delivery missed.
It was a case of needs must, and instead of the van a tractor and trailer was brought into action, slower yes, but it could get around and up the hills in Valley Road, Pine Road and Brownhill Road, remember there were no gritting lorries back then.
Winter: Vining’s Farm’s fresh turkeys
At Christmas it was an opportunity for us to provide our milkround customers with farm fresh Turkeys.
200 turkey chicks would arrive usually by train to Chandler’s Ford Station in July as chicks would be picked up from there and taken to the “Turkey House” shown on the earlier map of the farm.
They would be taken from their delivery boxes and placed under lamps to keep them warm.
This was always my Dad’s special project and he would feed and nurture these little chicks to grow over the next 6 months into wonderful birds ready for the Christmas tables of our clients in Chandler’s Ford.
Counting down to Christmas
Around 10 days before Christmas came the time to start the countdown to Christmas, locals were enrolled to help catch the turkeys and then once they were humanely killed they had to be plucked and drawn.
The plucking was undertaken in the turkey house then the birds were transferred over to the farmhouse where we would carry out the drawing on the huge kitchen table we had.
My Mother was in charge of this part of the operation and managed a small army of people all doing a particular job on a production line basis. I still can’t remember what we did with all the innards. Giblets were all placed back inside the birds but what we did we do with the rest, can’t remember.
It was always a very busy time in the run up to Christmas and the weather was never a help, when it was cold it meant we would have to thaw out all the water tanks so that the cattle could have a drink and it was a regular task to set fire to straw bales around water troughs to melt the pipes and clear the ice from the troughs.
Christmas Day at Vining’s Farm
Christmas Day was always wonderful, as usual up early to Milk but there was always a stocking at the end of my bed up to 1964 when I got married, my Mother was amazing with all the work she had to do, the stockings for me, all my sisters and my Brother were never forgotten.
Once the milking was finished and all the animals fed and watered it was breakfast time, the dining room where all the presents under the tree was totally out of bounds to us kids, (by 1963 we were all growing older) but this family tradition is still carried out by all our family. No presents until breakfast is finished and cleared away. Then we would all go into the Dining room and our Father would pass out all the presents to us kids.
I can still remember after all this time the wonderful excitement and anticipation of those moments when Dad would pick up a wrapped box and say “to Andy from xxx”.
Anyone remember Bako?
One present I remember was receiving a Bako building set, anyone remember Bako? I once had the full set and was able to build wonderful houses. This set was carefully kept for a number of years but I had two children. Say no more. I must say though that my son did give me a Bako set he got from Ebay. I still have that now.
My Mother’s wisdom
I do remember one Christmas day during breakfast day came a knock on the door. An irate customer had brought his turkey back as he said it smelt bad, Mother got our own Bird from the pantry and gave it to the client who went away happy! We were OK as the turkey he had complained about was bigger than the one we were going to eat. It was put straight into the oven and as far as I can remember was amazing!
Midnight Carol Service at St. Boniface Church
Whatever day it was, whatever the weather the animals had to be looked after but it still did not take away the magic of Christmas and we used to go to St. Boniface Church for the Midnight Carol Service on Christmas eve and I am looking forward to going this Christmas eve.
Pantomime at the Bournemouth Pavilion
Another fond memory of Christmas during the 1950s was that the day after boxing day was my Dad’s birthday and we all used to pile into the old Morris and go to a pantomime at the Bournemouth Pavilion. Now that was an adventure and a magical evening.
A wonderful magical time at Hiltonbury
Reading back what I have written it seems that it was always cold and miserable and I suppose at times it was but we did not know any different, it was what it was, the cows had to be milked, the milk had to be delivered, the customers had to be kept happy and our parents still had all the time to make Christmas at Hiltonbury a wonderful magical time.
I wish everyone reading this a happy and joyful Christmas and an amazing New Year.
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