Adolf Hitler and his Nazi’s had invaded Poland and then France which led to the outbreak of the Second World War.
It meant the food that we relied on from abroad was not getting through and the country was literally starving. The women were asked to leave the kitchen’s at home and work on the farms and factories to keep the country going. They didn’t disappoint either. They worked as hard as the men and ran homes, cooked, made clothing, and still found time to make themselves look pretty. It was during this time that a young Thomas Hogg met his wife to be Miriam Nixon; she lived in Ashington Northumberland on Woodhorn Road where her father who was a miner along with her two brothers worked.
When the call came the twenty year old put her name down to work on the farms around the country. Miriam always loved the countryside. She spent most weekends going fell walking with her friend Janice Villaverde.
When they found out they were to work on a nearby farm in Tyneside they were over the moon. They had no practical skills and William Hogg trained many women how to drive the tractors and use the machinery.
They founded what is now called the Women’s institute (WI) where they formed clubs, produced recipes; Food was being rationed so every resource was used on the land. The hedgerows were a great source of food and every berry, hip, and nut was used. Mushrooms collected and wild herbs used. Fruits like apples, pears, plums were bottled, canned, or made into jam to feed the ever hungry nation.
Miriam came to the farm with Janice and immediately mucked in. they set to work cleaning out the barns. She spotted Thomas the tall skinny looking lad leading the cows to be milked as the other animals like sheep and pigs were slaughtered because they were not considered useful. Milk was given to all children.
Most farms kept one or two pigs where the WI formed the pig club. Anyone who had any carrot tops or vegetable waste brought them to the farm to be boiled up to make swill for the pigs to eat. Then when the pig was considered big enough which was about six months they were slaughtered and half would go to the war effort and the other half shared between the locals. The local butcher made sure that the pork that the war effort got was more bone than meat. The locals got the best cuts so sustained them. It was not illegal although there was a lot of black racketeering going on during the war. Fuel like petrol was dyed red so that anyone caught stealing it would be punished severely; even sent to jail if they did not heed the court.
There was a lot of ways to try and get around this by using crushed aspirin or sieving the fuel through bread to get rid of the dye. Anywhere there was quick money to be made there was a black market man willing to get it for you at a price.