November 16, 2017

Northumbrian verse. Pills for All Ills

By Donald Clegg

Don entered this verse in the Morpeth competition for dialect poetry - and won the cup for a second year along with other awards.

Don Clegg with his cup and other wards for Northumbrian dialect verse
 Aa went to the doctor’s on Monda, Aa thowt Aa was gettin’ the flu,
Aa was gannin’ cowld an’ hot, an’ coffin’ a lot. When Aa got there he says, ‘How de do’?
He says, ‘If yo’re ill Aa’ll give ye a pill’. So he did. Aa said ‘Thanks’. It was BLUE.

Aa went to the doctor’s on Tuesda. Aa hev a job gettin’ about,
It might be rheumatics or an ingrown toenail, or corns, or summat, or gout’,
When Aa got to the car it was rainin’, so Aa thowt Aa’d tek me umbrella.
Doc says, ‘By, ye look ill, Aa’d bettor give ye a pill’.  An’ he did. Aa said,’Thanks’. It was YELLA.

Aa went to the doctor’s on Wensda, Aa hed sic an ache in me arm.
It’s a mystery to me, but Aa think it must be, years ago, muckin’ oot on the farm,
It was the same canny doctor. He says, ‘Nuw just let’s hev a wee think’
Aa’ll give ye a pill, then ye’ll not feel ill.” So he did. Aa said, ‘Thanks’. It was PINK

Aa went to the doctor’s on Thorsda. Me heed was achin’ and sare
Aa’d been on the pop (didn’t know when to stop). Aa’ve nivvor felt like it afore,
The doc wasn’t that sympathetic. He asked, If Aa’d  been on the town,
Yo’re boond to feel ill, but Aa’ll give ye a pill.  An’ he did. Aa said, ‘Thanks’. It was BROWN.

Aa went to the doctor’s on Frida. Me wattor works aal of a twist
Aa’d not been to the loo for a day or two -Aa’d give owt to gan oot and git p.........d (put right).
‘By heck’! says the doc. ‘Ye must hev some kind o’block, it’s the warst Aa’ve seen aal this summer’.
‘But if yo’re feelin’ see ill, Aa’ll not give ye a pill, here’s a note for Jack Nixon, the plumber’.

Aa was back at the doctor’s on Satdy. He was theor as Aa went through the door
He says, ‘Hello, me good man, you divn’t look vary grand. Let me think - have I seen you before’?
‘Aa just think ye have’, was me sarky reply. ‘Aal this med’cin ye think such a boon’,
‘Aa’ve had that mony pills, Aa’m fed up to the gills, an’ rattle when Aa jump up and doon’.

But noo Aa’m aal sorted and fit as a lop. Ivvry mornin’ Aa gan for a run
Aa play footbaal, gan bikin’ an’ swimmin’ and such so Aam hevin’ nee end of gud fun,
So here’s to the doctors that keep us alive an’ save us from aal kinds of stress.
Cos Aa sometimes fear, Aa just wadn’t be here, if it warn’t for the NHS.

But as we get owlder and faalin’ apart, we suffer from aal sorts of ills
So in case wor good doctor’s not able to come, Aa’ve still got me box full of pills.

Donald Clegg (Aad Wattie)

November 10, 2017

Northumberland traditions: My old Northumbrian fiddle.

By Clive Dalton

Oh if he'd only had lessons!
 Ladies and Gentlemen - Let’s have a few waltzes and reels
Some time in the 1950s through old family friends, Jack and Eva Wanlass from Wark,  I met Walter Hymers of West Woodburn.  Jack and Eva must have told Walter that I was interested in fiddles and Northumbrian music.

Being a ‘daft laddie’ on farms up the North Tyne in those days, it was inevitable that you knew old folk who played the fiddle, especially in their younger days for their own entertainment and for the local dances.  Examples of old country fiddlers I knew were Dan Wood from the Steele, Matt Wood from the Reenes, Mick Hall from Woodburn and John Armstrong of Elsdon.  They would never have had music lessons – they all just played by ear and learned tunes from other fiddlers.

In those days, folk didn’t need much of an excuse to sweep the granary floor or open up the church or village hall on a Saturday night – and get the local fiddler to play a few waltzes and reels.  There would be an old piano in most halls (mostly out of tune) and somebody locally would have a melodeon or accordion, or just a mouth organ.  The place would soon be rocking. The resident rats and mice would be driven deep inside the two-foot-thick stone walls of these old buildings.

After returning from the WW1, my father regularly played his mouth organ for Saturday night dances in the granary for the staff at Chesters, Humshaugh where mother was head housemaid.  Dad was the band!

The shepherd’s fiddle
In a typical shepherd’s cottage you’d find a range of walking sticks in a rack between the beams in the kitchen, and an old fiddle in its battered case on top of the ‘press’.  You may even find one hung with the bow on a hook on the wall.

The press was a traditional big cupboard with two large doors in the top half that opened out to reveal the crockery, and drawers in the bottom half.  There were two drawers in the top layer for the cutlery, and two more full-length drawers below that for tablecloths and linen.  These large drawers were also handy for when the bairn was born as one (kept open!) made a safe refuge for a few weeks till the cot was sorted.

Howay Jack man
So a common cry on a many a winter’s night was - 'Howay Jack man - git the fiddle doon off the top o' the press an give us a bit tune'.  This was usually met by –‘No, No man – Aa hevn’t played for years – me fingors is not supple any mare’ – and other excuses. 

A few wee drams seemed to loosen up the fingers, as before long the fiddle was ‘browt doon’ and the old case opened up to reveal usually a filthy old fiddle with the top covered in rosin from the bow, and what appeared to be accumulated ‘baccy juice’ from a pipe being smoked or tobacco being chewed while playing.  The old strings were mainly gut and not steele. Once started, it was often a hard job to get the player stopped for supper or to go to bed!

Another fiddle resting place in a farm house was on top of the ‘des bed’, usually parked in the kitchen in the recess beside the fire. This was a large cupboard with two doors, which held a full sized double bed which opened up on to the kitchen floor when needed.  All the bedding was stored in there too.

Jimmy Shand and his band
In my day, Jimmy Shand and other Scottish dance bands like Angus Fitchett were the ‘gold standard’ and they paid fairly regular visits south across the Border to villages in the Coquet, Rede and Tyne valleys.  Our Bellingham dances in the Town Hall were looked forward to for weeks. 

It was a serious affair with the men in suites the lassies in fancy ball dresses.  The Town Hall soon heated up as it seemed impossible to turn off the boilers, which blew a warm gale up through the grill in the floor below the balcony.  So it didn’t take many reels or rants to bring out the sweat, and swamp the fancy perfume the lassies started off with which we farm lads couldn’t smell in any case!

The tickets were expensive for us village lads – a few pounds, but it was worth every saved-up penny to see and hear these masters of music and metronomic rhythm.  The highlight of highlights for me was when the fiddler in Shand’s band agreed to play a solo.  His playing took your breath away, and I’d go home swearing that I’d never touch the fiddle again. His fingers hit places on the fiddle that I never knew existed.

Unfortunately fancy fiddles were too expensive, and in any case there was nobody in Bellingham to give lessons, There would have been somebody in Hexham but expecting my parents to pay out more money on top of school fees was not on.  

 Collecting records
78 rpm record - easily broken and scratched
Jimmy Shand’s music was readily available on the large 78 rpm gramophone records, and then on the 48rpm vinyl records.  When a new one came out, it was a must-purchase for me from Windows in the Arcade in Newcastle which I passed every day coming from school to the Central Station, at the same time, looking at the violins in the display window with great envy and frustration as I couldn't really play properly.

The 45 rpm vinyl records

The family Minster gramophone (c 1920s)
The gramophone
My parents had a Minster gramophone which they must have bought in the early days of their marriage in the 1920s, and it was always a revered bit of furniture kept in the front room after we moved to a Council House in Bellingham that had one.

The major sin was to wind it up to tight and break the spring and not to change the needle after 4-5 records.  And of course - not to drop the brittle record and return them to their paper sleeves to stop scratching the surface.

You could only play one record at a time. The records were stored on the shelf below the loudspeaker.

Lid open showing container for used needles and velvet pad to clean record before playing

A revered bit of furniture.  Note the windup handle at the side.

In the 1950s a combined radio and gramophone became the high fashion bit of furniture and were very expensive.  The technology had advanced so you could stack about 10 records above the turntable and each would be played in turn.

Record player
In the 1950s a record player came on  the market made by PYE.  One had a black decorated case and was called the 'PYE black box'.  Before we were married in 1959 we purchased one with a mahogany case for about twenty pounds sterling - expensive but it was a treasured possession to play our many old and recent records - 10 at a time.  It now resides in the Hamilton City Museum of Art and History.

I used to put a Shand's record on and try to accompany him on my fiddle.  He would not have been impressed!

PYE record player 1959

Meeting Walter Hymers
I remember cycling across to see Walter and is wife at West Woodburn and coming away with a fiddle that had come apart at the back – the top had parted from the sides and in the process, the sound post had fallen out and I can’t remember how I managed to get it back into place as you needed a special tool to stick into it and fit it under the bridge to take the maximum strain of the E string.

Those were the days before fancy modern glues and all you could get was ‘animal glue’ with its distinctive smell.  It came in small tins, which was an advance from the slabs of it you could buy and heated the tin in a small pan on the stove or fire until it was soft.  I cramped the top on the old fiddle and proudly took it back to Walter.

 I can’t remember now whether it was then or some time later that Walter made the generous offer of giving me that fiddle in it’s fiddle-shaped case vinyl-covered case. He provided no information on the history of his fiddle.

I brought it to New Zealand and played it for many years before giving it to my son in Melbourne where he took it to a violin specialist to find out that it was much more valuable that I had ever imagined.  It got an expert clean and a new aluminium bomb-proof case to protect it from damage.

Walter Hymers
Information from Clive Hymers (Walter’s son)

Walter Armstrong Hymers was born on 11 September 1903 at Blutcher on the western fringes of Newcastle upon Tyne in County Durham.  He started school at Blutcher and then his family moved to Plashetts when Walter was 7 which required him to get an ‘educational transfer’ to satisfy the bureaucracy of the day.

Walter left school at age 14 and went to work for the Forestry Commission which in 1917 was still war time and the North Tyne hills were in the early stages of being developed into one of the largest man-made forests in Britain.

Walter was a keen sportsman and played in local football teams – sometimes in more than one!  After his playing days, he was a very keen supporter of Woodburn AFC which competed with teams in the North Tyne and Rede valleys.

He then got a job just over the border in Scotland at the Hawick Brick Works driving a steam Foden.  From there he came back to Northumberland to work  at Swinburne quarry and then at Blaxter quarry as a shot firer, and in the process of his travels he also lived at Falstone and finally at West Woodburn.

In 1935 Walter married Eleanor Scott from West Woodburn and they had four children – Maureen (born 1942), Shirley (born 1944), Clive (born 1947) and Robin (born 1954).

During the WW11 Walter got a job looking after German POWs at Otterburn camp where they were they were happy to admit that it was much safer in confinement that fighting.  Walter had a motorbike and sidecar and it wasn’t unknown for him to land home with a German young lad for Sunday lunch. Many of the prisoners were skilled craftsmen and made many items in wood as presents for the Hymers family.

Like many other young folk in those days, Walter picked up playing the fiddle by ear and played in some local groups – none of them big enough to be names as a band.  It was a case of gathering whoever was available at the time to play at a function, so numbers varied a lot.

Walter like many other local men was a keen gardener and exhibited at local Leek and Horticultural Shows.  Walter retired in 1963 after a heart attack and died in October 1968 aged 65.

The fiddle's current home
I gave the fiddle to my son in Melbourne for safe keeping and he took it a renowned violin expert to restring it and give it a spring clean.  The expert considered it to be a very good quality instrument.
There was no label on the inside and Walter never told me anything of it's history.  Walter would  have had it for 50 years at least and I have had it for a similar period.

My son Nigel and the Melbourne violin expert - and the old Hymers fiddle

The fiddle safe in its current  home in Melbourne Australia - a long way from West Woodburn.


November 3, 2017

F George Clark - 95th birthday tribute

Before a well earned retirement to Waihi Beach, George Clark was a Waikato hill country farmer all his life, taking on the challenge with his brother to finish off the development of steep hill country at Te Pahu near Hamilton started by his parents. He is the father of New Zealand's highly respected former Prime Minister Helen Clark.

George was a keen follower and supporter of our work at the Whatawhata Hill Country Research station.

The hills cleared of bush and scrub for productive sheep and beef production by the Clark family over the years .  The pristine Kaniwhaniwha stream flows through the property down from Mount Pirongia

Looking back up the hill – a tribute to F.G. Clark
By Clive Dalton

At 95 and looking back
Past contributions clear to see,
Great service to New Zealand
Is there on George’s CV.

George knew farming was an ideal job
For those with little brains,
Weak in head and strong of back
Would help to reach their aims.

George knew farming was important
As meat and wool were king,
And Muldoon produced incentives
More production for to bring.

He paid George a dollar a ewe
70 million was National’s boast,
But Te Pahu never saw such flocks
Many suspected they were ghosts.

One PM had been a farmer
And a decent bloke to boot,
Remember Keith Jacka Holyoake
George reckoned a decent coot.

George knew to dag and crutch were noble
And hard work held no fears,
Crook backs, stuffed hips and buggered knees
Could be cured by a few cold beers.

He spent each year with mission clear
To clear scrub from a Pirongia slope,
Today’s young men hide out in town
And live on dole and dope.

George battled possums all his life
A challenge long and weighty,
But his bigger pests were bureaucrats
Cos they were resistant to 1080.

He attended all MAF Field Days
To see the latest science map,
But by the time he got back home
He realised it was total crap.

George missed out on the medals
For services to the land,
Today’s ‘face-bookers’ in parliament
Would never shake a farmer’s hand.

New Zealand has changed since George’s day
With rabbits replaced by ‘purists’,
When John Key bailed out he convinced us all
We’d all get rich from tourists.

George has seen farmers’ image die
And be the Greenies targets,
Not one would know what farmers do
As food comes from supermarkets.

George reared the young Clarks on politics
Preaching MPs were weak-kneed charmers,
And his proof came from the highest source
Te Pahu Federated Farmers.

So lets honour George on this great day
From hill country steep and clean,
And give him our best wishes
Till he gets some from the Queen (God Bless Her).

The swimming pool near the bridge on Limeworks Loop road across the Kaniwhaniwha stream where the Clark family used to swim.

October 31, 2017

Northumberland farming. Village hayfield helpers


By Clive Dalton
A hay rake used to row up the hay from windrows.  You walked behind this model pulling a lever to raise the tines.  Other models you rode on a seat and worked the tipping lever from there. 
A welcome sight
It was always a welcome sight during hay time when we saw helpers turning up from the village to lend us a hand with the haymaking.  They came after finishing their full time day’s work on the railway, the roads or in the village businesses.

Most village folk in the 1950s and 1960s had done some farm work in their lives, so they knew how to handle a rake and a fork, and never lost these skills.  In return for their work, those with gardens or allotments were paid with a good big load of hemmel (covered yard) manure in the autumn, so it would rot away nicely before spring planting of their vegetables.  Any village ‘professionals’ were happy to be rewarded by the opportunity to get some fresh air and exercise on a summer’s evening - and for the ‘crack’!

Their help from late afternoon till evening, fitted in well with the hay making routine, and included the evening time of most midge savagery,.

Mowing and turning
Grass was cut in the early morning when moist from dew so it cut easily, and before the sun started to warm up – hopefully.  In the horse era this was cool for the heavy work of pulling the mower.

Then the grass cut the previous day or days, and depending on the weather, was turned about 11am when the horses had been given time for a rest and feed after mowing, and before being yoked into the hay turner which was much lighter work.  When tractors arrived – which was a slow process up the North Tyne, this was not an issue.

The turned swaths were then left to bake in the sun with farm staff going around with a fork and ‘shekin up’ any thick bits the turner had not teased out.  The ‘double swath (‘double sweeth’) around the outside of the field was an area that always needed a good shake out (‘shek oot’) with the fork.

By mid afternoon the crackling dry hay (hopefully) would be ready to rake up into windrows. If there was time, these would be checked for lumps that had not dried properly.

By late afternoon, after the afternoon tea had been welcomed, it was time to get ready to sweep the hay in the windrows into large heaps that were used material to make the pikes.

It was for piking that extra help was appreciated and you kept your eye open with keen anticipation to see which helpers appeared all keen to get into the action.  The main thing about this from the ‘Daft Laddies’s’ view was that the more help that arrived, the sooner you would get finished, and well before the moon arose!  We used to say ‘thank God for dark’ as you kept going till the job was finished.

Farm regulars
Farms had their regular helpers who looked forward to hay time and the rituals that went with it.  Here’s a list of a few in the Bellingham and Reedsmouth area that I was involved with from childhood to student days.  They were all great friends and mentors.

Helpers job
John & Lance Riddle
Tommy Davidson
Railway surfaceman
Bob& Jack Beattie
Jack Maughan
Bank clerk

Willie Potts
Retired farmer
Geordie Breckons
Harry Dalton
Jake Cowan
Railway guard
Wagon driver
Robert Allen
Jim Swanson
Engine driver

Robson girls
Retired farmers
Dove Cottage
James Wood
Jimmy Cairns
Railway surfaceman

Learning skills
Many of us children would join these willing helpers, mainly to have fun among the hay and to scrounge some late afternoon tea.  If there was a spare rake you were allowed to use it under careful supervision, living in fear that you would break a tooth through your behaviour.  They were strict teachers of the art of handling tools.

And the helpers were skilled at piking, and making sure you carried out the rituals to the letter, especially if you were forking hay up to a man who stood on the pike to ‘poss doon’ (consolidate) the hay to the very last forkful.  And also when you were raking the sides of the pike so all straws were facing down to shed off the rain (‘dressin doon’), you didn’t over do things so a side of the pike fell out and brought down the person on top.

I learned these fine arts from about 7 years of age at Dove Cottage small farm, where Jimmy Cairns was an expert in making possed (compressed) pikes.  He was a big man but had wonderful balance when the last part of the pike’s top was being completed.

He had an unfortunate stutter so his request for ‘another smaaa ffffffforkfu’ was slow to arrive!  He described it as the size of a hen’s nest, which you had to deliver with great precision so not to poke him in the foot with the fork tines.

When haste was needed because of doubtful weather, we usually make pikes ‘built on the trail’, which was where you used the swept heap of hay as the base, making sure it did not come adrift when you had the pike half built.

The farm women folk
Generally the helpers were mainly men, as the women on the farm were the key to preparing and bringing out the food for afternoon tea.  They often stayed on to help if they could see the pressure was on because rain was on its way.

They were equally skilled as the men but concentrated on the lighter jobs like hand ‘raking the trails’ which was the hay left after the windrows had been swept.  Every straw was precious!

A few local women who during the war had been in the Land Army would come and help just for the enjoyment and memories of more worrying times.

March 20, 2017

Farm employment for school leavers

By Dr Clive Dalton

Remembering the students in my time (1993-2000) who went through The Waikato Polytech (TWP) farming courses, we learned so much from them and their experiences, and we also learned from their employers, many of whom had been former students years before.  There are a host of issues for young folk leaving home and starting their first farm job – with the aim of making farming their long-term career.

From school to adulthood
Teachers with students who considered them as low academic achievers always saw farming as a good employment option.  Investing further time in trying to rescue them was not worth it, and in any case the school didn’t have the time, facilities or money to fix the problem.  The problem still exits and nobody in the education system seems to have a solution.

The education system had failed these and generations of students, and as they could leave school at 15 if they had work or further training to go to, the story was to get them out the school gate as fast as possible. 

So a full-time farming course like our Dairy Farm Trainee course was ideal.  Many students told me that their teachers said that ‘it would be better for the teacher and the school, if the student left!  So the student couldn’t wait to get out of boredom, and frustration that school was.

Full-time training
It was hard for many 15-16 year-olds who had had a bad experience at school, to realise that they had moved into the adult world where what was expected of them was very different.  I regularly failed to get them to realise that school class behaviour didn’t apply at a Polytech, where we were tutors and shouldn’t be expected to wast time (and their money) on class discipline. I regularly reminded them that they or somebody was paying for their tuition.

But a Polytech full time 6-month course (January till June) for these young folk was ideal, as they could enjoy the social bonding with their peers, at a time of their lives where they matured so quickly in so many ways – before the shock of going to a farm to start the calving.

They came to the Polytech as youths and left as young men and women ready to play their part in the farming world. The two periods of work experience (three weeks each) that students did on Polytech approved farms were invaluable, for students to see what was required of them, and the farmers could provide an accurate assessment for the Polytech about the student on their strengths and weaknesses before full time employment at calving.

Many work experience farmers employed the students they had for work experience, as they were so pleased with them.  The sad thing was the dropout rate when measured 2-3 years later and showed what could only be described as a large exodus.  We had no accurate data on this, as it was hard for the Polytech to keep track if the initial trainees, unless they came back for further advanced courses.  It was from these students that we found out what happened to their classmates and where they had gone.

Living with the boss
This is probably unique to farming. What other jobs do you live 24/7 in close proximity to your employer?  It’s a situation rich in hazards. For the first-time trainee, the student had to eat with the family with meals provided, with their own separate bedroom in the house, or they could have a ‘sleep out’ attached to or near the house.  In some jobs a farm cottage was available as part of the contract (if there was a signed contract which is mandatory).

Depending on the contract the new employee could be faced with the added chores of cooking, laundry and cleaning, and other chores, which parents may not have taught them. One of the things we included on our Dairy Farm Trainee course was how to make a bed, how to sew on a button, and how to prepare some food.

Then there were issues like the choice of music in the house and in the milking shed, and the TV programmes watched.  Later the use of the Internet was the main issue.

The employer’s children could also be a problem for the young worker, where the kids pestered them or the kids’ behaviour caused frustration in the house and the worker could not discipline them in front of the parents.

Who is the boss?
It would seem clear at interview that the boss was ‘him’ on the farm, and ‘her’ in the house.  But after a few ‘domestics’ during milking and other arguments on the farm, that the trainee found out that ‘she’ was in charge of all directions and management decisions, so taking orders could be tricky to avoid getting reprimanded from one or other of the employers. 

Three is a bad combination.  That's why three sheep are used in a dog trial because they split into a 2:1 combination.

So the biggest risk area to avoid conflict is job priorities – the question of which jobs had to be done and in what order?  And whose instructions did the employee follow to avoid conflict?

What will I learn?
This is a key issue for a young person starting work on a farm, as so often despite all the great prospects with a top farm employer, by the end of the season, very little has been learned. In so many cases all the employee gets to do is to milk and then spray weeds between milkings. 

It’s easy for this to happen as the employer finds it easy of letting staff concentrate on what they are good at, and forget about their mental stimulation and ambition to learn as much as possible, so they can climb up the farming ladder and build their CV to move to management in quick time.

I remember one top student who we helped get employment with a local prize-winning sharemilker so he would progress at maximum speed.  I saw his mother and asked how he’d got on.  She was not pleased and said that all he had done was spray weeds and spread Urea on each grazing block when the cows had vacated.

How much time off?
Time off the farm was ‘the’ top priority for the new employee as well as everyone else on the farm, but for a young first-time worker, in some contracts time off was never enough.  One weekend off a month in the contract was the standard, with variations of this to cover calving.  But when you think about this – it’s not all that generous for a young worker away from home for the first time.

Depending on the isolation of the farm, the question was where did you go for a short break?  So many young folk were so tired that they spent most of their time off in bed.

I once asked a class – what was the biggest deficiency on a dairy farm, expecting to hear it was pasture quantity and quality.  Once student was in no doubt – he said it was ‘sleep’ and the whole class of 20 others agreed with him.

Most farms are separated by distances that need a vehicle to get anywhere, and for many the nearest town for a drink and a feed could be at least 30 minutes away.  Then there were the hazards of getting home again, depending on where you had been and what you had been up to when out.

I was often surprised at how many 15-16-year-olds were secretly homesick, but maybe not in these days of social media and Skype.  But then we know the other side of this – getting off the phone to do some work!

Time off for classes
It's critical that first time employees are encouraged to attend classes so they can start on their NZQA Units, and that the employer agrees to help with this and becomes an approved trainer.

Your CV
In the old days when you had to handwrite your CV, this could tell the employer a lot.  But since word processing came in, fancy paper and folders and folk in town who will come and organise your CV for a fee, things are different as a fancy layout can cover up a lot of deficiencies.

It’s still a good idea to add a covering hand-written letter to your CV, but make sure there are no spelling mistakes and it’s neat and tidy.  There is plenty of good information available these days on the Net about preparing a CV. See my blog (

The thing to remember is that an employer could have 10-20 CVs to look through for a top job, and it’s not a daunting task deciding which applicant to call up for interview, as it cost considerable time and money to do this.  More employers now are hiring an agent to sort out a short list for interview.

One student had a trick where he knew the employer would have many applicants and he phoned him to say he was passing the farm soon and could he call in for chat about the job.  He always got the job as he knew that he would save the employer hours of work sorting out who to contact.  Mind you, he was a really top student and has gone on to great heights in the industry.

Memorable student tips for interviews
See my blog (

1.     On the way to an interview, ask at the local garage or shop for directions to the farm, saying that you are going to see about a job.  Carefully note the response you get.
2.     Ask the employer how long the previous workers had stayed.  See if you can be given their contacts.
3.     Ask how long milking takes, as there’s plenty of evidence that shows after an hour and a half, concentration falls and you’ll need some food and drink to boost your energy.  Some workers are milking for four hours twice a day.
4.     And at the interview, check early on if the female boss is signed up with Jenny Craig, because if she is you’ll die of hunger.
5.     If the employer takes you for a farm inspection, make sure you get out of the vehicle and open the gates!
6.     If you have a serious girlfriend or partner, be up front and take her along.
7.     If you’ve been on dope – don’t apply for the job.
8.     Be careful about listing your pastimes, as many bosses see these as demands on farm work time.  But be honest.