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October 2016 Print E-mail
Farming Yesterday and Today

As I write this article the harvest is virtually gathered in and the tractors are feverishly whirring round to prepare the ground for another year. The sights, sounds and smells are all too
familiar and it makes me feel very comfortable and rooted to know that this same cycle is repeating itself year on year. But how many of us, who are not farmers, really, really know about what goes on in a farmers life or how it has evolved within our lifetimes? What their day consists of, how mechanization has evolved to help them to do their job more effectively and what the risks are?
I remember talking to a farmer one day — whose stark words will always stay with me. "Who else would put their whole working life (and therefore their income) into fourteen days of harvesting each year"?
Farming has been a pivotal way of life in Hambledon for centuries. I spent a lovely evening with John and Lis Harnett, well known to most of you as long-term farmers in our area, in preparation for this piece, and we looked at the map of farms which was produced for the Millennium exhibition. We calculated that Hambledon is surrounded by approximately 4,500 acres of working farmland. Farming still shapes our seasonal landscape, our lovely distant views and our peaceful setting — so very easy to take for granted. Farming used to dominate Hambledon's economy. In 1891 the Hambledon census shows around 150 paid workers linked to the land — not counting the seasonal work of children and women. We do not yet have today's figure but, with mechanization, that figure is probably a tenth of that. So the majority of Hambledon families would have been linked to the land, or the trades associated with the land, and there are several familiar names still here today. Adrian Cazalet wrote some very interesting articles on farming for The Hambledonian back in 1996, but even since then much has changed and so we want to put the focus on farming at our next "pub hub" on 22" November 2016. Themed as "Farming Yesterday and Today" and specifically aimed at the slightly quieter time in the farming calendar, we aim to contact as many of those who work or have worked the land in and around Hambledon and ask them to come with their stories and their photographs. What we "harvest" from this evening will go on to form the basis of another village open day in the spring. Meanwhile, we already we have some interesting little vignettes of what farmers got up to in their spare time. For example, how many of you knew that the Harnetts took part in timed trials and motorsport events in the 1960s — Liz was some co—driver and map reader I can tell you!
Thank you so much to Jean Saunders for her letter in the last Hambledonian — we love feedback
Look at these pictures of how farming has modernized. Do you know anyone in them?
Pat Crew