collected by Jane Hedge. May 2006.

(There is a picture of Mavis at the launch of our book, 'Views of Coddington', which is dedicated to her husband Derick. Follow this link.)


Mavis Kirton

Mavis lived with her parents in Balderton and worked at Worthington & Simpsons. She met Derick through her hobby of bell ringing and moved to the village when they married.

The cottage on Sunnyside farm was modernised before their wedding and they moved in after the wedding. She has lived there for 30years.

Derick was on the farm for all his working days. The only time he was away was to do his National Service. It was a good time for him, he made a lot of friends during his service and they stayed in contact for many years. He didn't enjoy going out to Suez, although they were not fighting at the time. He just missed out on his Medal as he went out in the December and the cut off date was September. He always felt it wasn't fair that he was out there for 18months, but didn't qualify for a medal. Rev Peter Wright was the same.

We met when I was about 28, bell ringing, I've a soft spot for bell ringing and I?m ever so glad Peter is keeping it up. Peter has joined a group at Nottingham whilst he is at University.

When we married we had a few calves and chickens, but no sheep. They did have sheep years ago. We didn't have one breed of cattle we had all sorts.

Mr Allen put a few cattle in the barn, he prefers cattle to sheep. He will put them out into the fields after he has wormed them.

Up until Derick and I got married Grandad did all the chauffeuring, but as I could drive I got lumbered with that job!!
I would take out all the lunches and the teas, if anything was needed from the vets "Mavis can go"
Once John took over from Grandad, I ferried him about, as John didn't drive. Derick drove the car for a while but he didn't enjoy it and gave up when he felt his eyes were getting worse.

When I was having Peter, I was in Grantham Hospital for 6 or 7 weeks, Derick would pick Neil up from school and drive down to see me. It was wintertime and I don't think he liked the driving but they came to see me every day.

During the winter you had to feed the cattle twice a day. We had a Jersey house cow and she had to be milked so you could not go anywhere. The milk was so rich, too rich really. We used to make butter, especially from the very rich milk after she had calved. We never used to buy butter or potatoes. We grew two or three rows of potatoes in the field for ourselves. If we grew them in the garden they always got wireworm. I never tried to make cheese, but would make cream cheese from soured milk.

My Dad used to come up on a Friday and Derick would leave some odd jobs for him to do. He was a carpenter; he would do any woodworking jobs. Dad had worked for Marstons, builders and undertakers at Balderton. Our house on Hawton Lane Balderton was built in 1938. They built the house and he did the joinery in his spare time.

From January to April all the animals were kept in the barns and had to be fed. It took an hour or two. We didn't have a bull, the A.I man would come to serve the 7 cows we had. Each cow would have her own calve and maybe two others to feed. The other calves having been bought in. It was quite a job making sure each of the calves got to suckle. We only had two sets of twins born to our cows and they came at the time of foot and mouth. It was unusual and David, the Vicar named the little black one Constance because it was born on Mothering Sunday. But we found out it was a bull calf so we re-named it Constantine!!

Ploughing was done after the harvest and Derick loved ploughing with seagulls following behind the plough. He wrote to the Daily Express about the time he ploughed a couple of birds into the furrow and how they just flew out again.

April onwards it would be spraying and fertilizers to go on the arable land. Nowadays it cannot be put on just when you want to. We are getting to be a "nanny State" and I hate it.

We had two ponds on our fields that had standing water during the winter, but they dried up in summer. One was in the field we bought from Simpsons and the other one behind the houses. Derick tried to get frogs going in them, He was a real nature man. We found newts in the wall where the bricks had fallen out. We have bats flying round and round the yard but you only ever see one, it's been here for years and years. House martins nest in the farm and when they are going they all collect on the wire across the yard.

It was very busy at harvest time, especially with the combine. Our first combine kept breaking down. Derick sold that one and bought another and that kept breaking down, he was spending more money on it, so he sold it and got Mr Allen to do the combining after that. It cost more in repairs than it would cost to employ someone to do it.

The first one was bought by Windsors and sent to a Third World country. He hated to drive it, as it was so large, rattly and difficult to drive. It was awful to turn into Charities land off Balderton Lane. It's a dangerous corner. There?ll be an accident there someday. You need 2 people, 1 to see you out, even today with the bigger tractors you cannot get out safely.
Farmers are responsible for anything dropped on the road by their vehicles. He was most particular about his responsibility for the roads.

June and July, Haymaking he would work on other farmers land, sometimes buying the hay from them. Dukes of Barnby, Ted Black and Smithson's. Working all day until 8'oclock at night. Eventually everyone went out of hay. Mr Allen does a little. He did quite a lot for people with horses. We used to feed the hay to the cattle, straw for bedding. We never burnt our straw, we were always short of straw for bedding. As straw got shorter there was less and less for bedding.

Mum and Dad and Uncle Cyril would come to help pick the potatoes that we grew for ourselves.
A man on Look North had a collection of old farming films, it was quite interesting. Robin, a friend of Neil's, took film of Derick doing all the different aspects of farming.
We used to keep the calves in the orchard, but couldn't put the big cows in there, as the fencing was not strong enough. We never used electric fencing as Mr Allen does now. All our hedges were kept in good condition, Steve Lyne would come and do them. Now the Government has said, if you have them cut every three years you can have a subsidy. They will be so high if they are left for three years.

If only the Government would pick a farmer to be Farm Minister, he would know what he was talking about, but instead they choose a lawyer or someone like that. It's the same with the Health Service why don't they choose a doctor?

We don?t have much to do with the single farm payment, we split it that we have the sugar beet and they have the subsidies. At the end of the year we sort it out between us.

I was bell ringing at Balderton for about 4years before we got married, I still do a bit now. Here they are little lightweight bells unlike the Newark, where they are heavy and pull harder. I have trouble with some of the heavier ones.

I used to help with Brownies at Balderton, I was one of the first Tawny Owls. Mrs Furniss was involved with Brownies and Cubs. I belonged to the Girls Friendly Society attached to the church and the one attached to the Chapel! But I used to go on Parade with the Chapel. They had a Scripture Quiz and I came 2nd or 3rd. All the girls around us were Chapel, so I waited to go with them to the Chapel things. They didn't come to Church Youth Group 14-20's.

I belonged to Balderton W.I along with my Mum until it was disbanded, because the older women didn't want to turn out at night, but Dorwood W.I was attended by the younger women of the village.

Edie Bailey was my cousin and she was with Cubs at Northgate House and I used to go to Derbyshire with them on their hikes. It always rained and I was stiff the day after!!

Our friends in the village were mainly bell ringers and family. Derick taught a lot of people to ring. I am still in touch with some people in Norton Disney. One friend, who when his wife died went to New Zealand to live with his son, sends me the occasional e-mail.