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Volume Two

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Jim Sanders

Born in 1921 at Thornworthy farm on the Ilkerton ridge between Barbrook and the Chains, Jim Sanders moved to nearby South Stock farm in 1945 when he married Alice Crocombe. He and brother Arthur farmed South Stock together until 1960 when Arthur took over neighbouring Sparhanger farm.

Jim is widely known on Exmoor as a singer, with a formidable repertoire of material, all committed to memory. His signature songs are probably ‘Blackbird’ and ‘Poor, Poor Farmer’, and so associated is he with the latter, that ‘PPF’ - poor, poor farmer - is how he is commonly referred to in a wide area. Less well known is the fact that he has kept a diary every year since 1947, and these diaries provide a continuous record of the day-to-day details of life on a remote hill-farm over six decades. Jim’s chapter begins with extracts from one of these diaries where it speaks for itself.

Black and white photo circa 1970s of Jim Sanders on a horse surrounded by farmers at the ring of the Brendon pony sale.

Jim Sanders' chapter includes the following topics and many more:

  • playing outside with the dogs as kids
  • getting the horses ready before school
  • running down to school with a hoop
  • father gassed in the first war
  • never talking very much at home
  • making straw ropes and spar gads by lamplight
  • thatching hay ricks with reed
  • superstitions
  • wedding ring found after more than twenty years in a field
  • Beggar’s Roost motor trials
  • Cobbam’s Air Display at Coombe Park farm
  • catching trout with a net in Farley Water
  • cow following her calf to Blackmoor Gate market
  • ploughing with heavy horses
  • riding a mad pony which charged down gates
  • Westaway, Folly, Rushie Splat and the other ancient field names
  • writing a diary for over sixty years
  • delivering the churns and milking
  • trapping rabbits and pig killing
  • a sow choking to death on a loaf of bread
  • collecting peat from the common with a horse and sleigh
  • tying four foot long faggots with withy
  • storing the faggots on the tops of hedges
  • collecting fern (bracken) from the common for bedding
  • a mowing machine and the horse both overturn
  • hand threshing, grinding and cutting mangolds
  • ferrets and rabbit trapping
  • badger and fox digging with terriers
  • trapping moles and sending the skins to Swimbridge
  • poachers and their dogs coming up from Lynton
  • milking and bedding down with Tilly and Aladdin lamps
  • calor gas lights replace candles on the farm
  • blowing up a stump with gun-powder
  • being cut off after the Lynmouth flood
  • removing docks, horse- and sheep-thistles
  • ten shillings for anyone finding a single weed on the farm
  • Coronation bonfires on Dunkery and on the hills over the channel in Wales
  • singing in the Rockford pub
  • carol choirs and the Blackbird song
  • Hearts of Oak collecting traditional songs and music
  • the vegetable garden

Page sample from Jim Sanders' Chapter

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Photo samples from Jim Sander' Chapter

  • Black and white photo circa 1920s of George Lock in his white sheep shearing suit half way through hand shearing a sheep before one of the sheep shearing parties at a hill farm in north Devon.
  • Black and white photo circa 1990s of Jim Sanders with a large stick just about to smash it on a table top as part of his singing ‘The Blackbird song’ at the Staghunters pub in Brendon, north Devon.
  • Black and white photo taken in the terrible winter of 1963 of farmer Jim Sanders hauling milk churns out of his farm with a horse and sleigh which he used to use for bringing peat off the common.
  • Black and white photo of the outside cover of Jim Sander’s 1948 diary in which he recorded events on his remote hill farm between Barbrook and the Chains above Lynton on Exmoor.
  • Black and white photo circa 1950s of a choir of carol singers dressed in Victorian costumes with a horse and trap outside the old Barbrook post office as they set off to sing carols in Lynton.
  • Black and white photo circa 1915 of Owen Sanders in his best clothes before he set off to work on the front line with horses in the first world war.

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