25 January 2003

Ainstable The Barugh

OldEric says :-) H’mm I hear you say, how do you pronounce that? Easy… Barf. Barugh as far as I can ascertain seems to mean rounded hill. The Barugh comprised of three two-story pebble-dashed cottages joined together. We lived in the end one nearest Ainstable. We were fortunate to have a small paddock attached to our cottage for our use. Here we kept two female milking goats and a pen of hens for eggs and birds for the table.

As I said previously I was four years old when our family came to live here and I was on a full tilt learning curve. I quickly learnt about goats and that goats often had evil intentions on their minds. I usually used to go into the paddock with my parents while they were doing their chores there and the goats would come around us hoping we had some kitchen scraps, which we fed to both the goats and the hens. We also milked the goats daily in the paddock but I didn’t like the milk much, I liked the milk from the Bramery better.

One day I went into the paddock on my own across to the green hut and the goats were feeding on the other side of the paddock and with usual curiosity came across to see what I was doing. After a while I decided to go back across the paddock to the house. I got about half way across and suddenly I found myself on the ground and one of the goats standing nearby, I got up looked around and continued on my way and I glanced round and saw the goat running towards me with its head down. I felt the goat’s head hit the seat of my pants and over I went with the goat standing watching me nearby. I again got up, I started running and shouting and the goat got me again. I stayed on the ground with the goat watching over me and by this time I was hollering loudly and my mother came out, she grabbed the goat and chased it.

Yes, at the age of four I learnt about goats. After my trauma with the goat my father used to tether the goats at weekends when I was out playing and I used to keep out of the paddock during the week. I also learnt that for goats to have kids that we needed to take the goats to see a Billy goat. One day my father did that, it cannot have been very far, we led the goat down the road to visit the Billy with a piece of rope through its collar as you would lead a dog. After a while we led the goat back home and I spent much time after that looking at the goat and waiting for its stomach to swell and the kids to appear. They never did and my father said next time we would leave our goat for a day or two with the Billy.

I sometimes used to go fishing with my Dad. Just down the road was the Croglin River, a small river that ran into the River Eden. He had a cane fly fishing rod and while he fished he would tell me about fishing and other things. After a while I would go exploring along the wooded riverbank. Sometimes we caught trout and we would take them home.

In the field to the rear of our home was a local farmer’s field full of rabbits. Rabbits were a pest in countryside in those times and the only way to keep them under control was by shooting them or a more efficient way was by using nets and ferrets or sometimes traps which was a cruel method. Aubrey’s father in the house at the other end of the block had a ferret and my dad and he would go into the fields and net rabbits. We often had rabbit stew in those days.

There was no butchers shop down the road for meat, we could not bring meat home from town or buy from the local farmers in quantity. Fridges and Freezers were not only a luxury they were a rarity even if you could afford one. So our meat requirements came from chickens, rabbits, and cured hams from a local farmer which, when cured by the old method could be hung for months plus fresh meat and sausages again from a local farmer when he killed an animal for his own needs and sold the rest. He didn’t have a freezer to keep all his meat either. Even so we lived well and cheaply as far as meat was concerned, probably better than we do today.

As far as I remember we never went into the nearest town of Penrith or the equidistant city of Carlisle during our twelve to fifteen months residence at the Barugh. Very few people had cars in those days and buses were often few or non-existent. In our case to go into Penrith or Carlisle by road was a distance of about twenty-five to thirty kilometres or fifteen to sixteen miles. Not far you say, by today’s standards, but in those days and our case it meant an eight kilometre walk to the nearest infrequent bus route first. A totally different lifestyle than today as I write this in the year 2002.

As I continue writing of the coming years I will from time to time comment on the social differences of then and now. Of country areas sometimes without electricity or telephone and no corner shop to on the other hand a life style of little regulation and a time of little or non-existent crime of a peaceful and happy life style.

Shortly we were to leave Ainstable and the Barugh to go to live on the shores of Ullswater Lake, the year was 1939.

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