It was an early start for Thomas and his father because they had to gather in the potato crop from three fields. Using a new machine that his father had bought from America called a “Speedy Digger it cut the time down in half to gather the potatoes from the field. The potato harvest coincided with the half term school holiday. Children as young as eleven would come looking for work. If hired they would begin working from 7.30 in the morning until 4.30 at night. It was backbreaking work as they had to keep up with the speedy digger. The twenty or so young boys and girls would be bent over and would gather the potatoes into a sack then they were tipped onto a wagon when full and they would do this all day long.
They were paid £5.00 per week and at the end given some potatoes and turnips to take home. Cora made soup for the young workers and fresh bread. The harvesting lasted a week and when they were all gathered in; they were washed, graded, and then bagged all by machine. There would be about eighty tonnes of potatoes produced some of the money from them would go towards buying seed potatoes for the following year.
The Farmers always kept some back for the animals to eat over the winter months to go with the silage and turnip.
Thomas went to the gate where the boys were waiting to be hired. He would choose twenty of the strongest boys who had either done the job before or looked strong enough to do the job.
The rest were asked to come back again in the morning because invariably some would drop out because the work was too hard for them.
They would be paid off and someone else would take their places.
William couldn’t afford to have shirkers either so if he felt that they weren’t pulling their weight they too were paid off.
There’s no room for sentiment in business he would tell them at the start. “Work hard and you will be kept on mess about and you will be going home.’
The boys sat in the empty wagon as the tractor pulled it to the field.
Thomas pulled the speedy digger in front then the trailer wagon would follow behind and the boys either side would gather the crop.