Everytime we drive along the M62, past Normanton, we remember the first farm my husband worked on. All the family look at the small fields which he used to plough with a Ferguson 35. It was a four cylinder with a gold painted engine.

The little tractor was bad to start on a cold morning, even with heater plugs.

The over-riding memory seems to be the cold.

Ploughing started in November, then, because it was all spring cropping. An army trench coat – karki with brass buttons – kept out the cold and the wet. It was so thick that it absorbed the rain. A scarf wound round the neck, sealed the gaps from drips of rain or gusts of wind. A hat was made from a railway sack, with one corner pushed into another, so that you looked like a monk. Because the bag was so long, it was possible to drape it over the shoulders and right down the back, where it was held with a bit of Massey which was tied round the waist. This prevented the pointy bit over the head from blowing off in the wind. The bag was thick and heavy, but precious, because British Rail charged for them. This one must have escaped the system!

Cold hands and hot ache lasted all day. The Fergy was obliging – gloves were regularly slotted over the exhaust pipe so that they filled with warm fumes from the engine. This warmed the gloves, but the hands became fumey and smelt when eating dinner! Polythene fertiliser bags were put along the side of the engine, like an extension to the bonnet, so the fan blew the engine heat back round your legs.

The lunch bag was made of tough, heavy karki material with a thick strap which was wrapped round the air cleaner pipe and hung down on the side of the bonnet – wearing the paint off. It held a thermos flask and sandwich tin, which swung along in the bag. But they are happy memories, going up and down the field all day, and every day, with the little Fergy and the Ferguson plough on the back. The three furrow plough had 12″ furrows and general purpose bodies.

Decades later these tractors are still doing good service in Africa, allbeit with bonnets missing. Or, if the bonnet is on, the paintwork is worn off with so many people riding on it. Maybe my husband passed his tractor on his recent visit to Kenya. There are many Fergusons there. They are fantastic, well-made tractors.

Yesteryear memories from TopVeg