Blaker Family of Sussex - Reminiscences


Country Life.

ON leaving school at sixteen I returned home, and, as my forefathers had done for centuries, I commenced to learn farming, which was quite a different thing in those days to what it is at the present time. And here I remained for twelve months, picking up a little knowledge of different soils, the different methods of cultivation, and various other matters connected with agriculture. I also learned something about domestic animals, and watched with great interest the manner in which the old herdsman managed his cattle. He kept them clean, their stall well ventilated, and warm and free from draughts, with plenty of clean straw. He gained their confidence so that they were not alarmed at anything he did. He studied their dispositions, always putting an irritable or bad-tempered one in a quiet place. He fed them always at the same time, gauging their appetite so accurately that nothing was ever left on their trough. The feeding over, he closed the door, so that nothing might disturb them during digestion. Could the most accomplished physician devise a better system than this? He could, in addition to this, do all ordinary agricul-tural work in an intelligent manner, and was in all repects a fair example of ordinary farm labour-ers, who are frequently looked on as ignorant and stupid. Does not the stupidity rather rest with those whose ignorance of the country and of the nature of plants and animals, prevents their seeing that these men are skilled labourers of the highest class?

I thoroughly enjoyed a country life, field sports in winter, and watching the ever varying ap-pearance of the woods and fields as the changing seasons came round.

" Those who such simple joys have known,
   Are taught to prize them when they're gone."

And I look back with as much pleasure to this twelve months, for I acquired a knowledge of the life-history of plants and animals, and I feel I also got a power of memory and observation which proved most useful in after life.

But the farmer's troubles are endless. Un-favourable weather may in a very short time des-rtoy the work of a twelve-month, and disease a herd of cattle or a flock of sheep. There was at that time a great agricultural depression, and the seasons were most unpropitious, so I deter-mined to leave farming and enter the medical profession. It was a great wrench for me, a raw country boy, to leave the country life and country scenes in which I had been brought up, and in which all my tastes and pleasures were centred and plunge into the, to me, "great unknown" of town life. I asked my father to try and place me as a pupil at the Sussex County Hospital.

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