Taken from 'A Brief History of Oxenhope' published in 1996 by David Samuels with many local contributors. Proceeds from the sale of the book are to support the Multiple Sclerosis action groups.
Snippets from Past Oxenhope (David Samuels)
The History of Oxenhope (Mr R Hindley)
Daily Life (Mrs Freda Feather)
Life on a hill farm (Mr Joe 'Bodkin' Feather)
Mill Life (Mrs Lucy Shackleton)
Village Life (Mrs Winnie Cowgill)
Education (Mrs Pauline Sheffield)
The Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin (Mrs Margaret Hindley)
Religious Life in Oxenhope (Mrs Norma Mackrell)
Most of the farms were very small - hill farms of about 20 acres or so. Joe's was typical of those in the area. It was situated on the old Hebden Bridge Road, 'ovver flops'. There would be approximately 15 cows of which 10-12 were milkers, and 40-6- sheep, depending on the acreage and the amount of fodder grown. There were pigs, geese, ducks (if there was a pond) and hens, all of which were free-ranging. The hens were kept for their egg production and their meat was eaten only as a treat at Christmas. Before the war, tractors and carts were horse-drawn, so there would be a draught-horse to keep as well. Of course there were cats to kill the mice and rats, and dogs. Most dogs herded either cattle or sheep, but some could herd both.
The farmhouse had no bathroom, so bathing was done in a zinc bath on the kitchen floor. Water was piped in from a well, and after a storm was very dirty.
Because of their geographical positions and climatic conditions these farms grew no arable crops, until the outbreak of war when oats were grown. There was a corn mill at Muffin Corner and the Co-op also sold corn.
The farmer and his wife ran the farm with help from the children out of school hours. When children left school they went to work in the local mills and helped with the farmwork in the mornings and evenings.
The day started at 6.30 - 7.00am, depending on the season. In the springtime it was earlier. Pigs and chickens were fed before going to school which could be quite a long distance to walk. In bad weather buttoned gaiters were worn to keep socks dry, and sacking draped over head and shoulders to keep the worst of the elements at bay.
The cows, or beasts as they are known locally, were hand milked, usually by the women, and most farms made their own butter, again by women. This was hand churned for one and a half hours, even longer in the winter. Unwanted animals were taken to market for sale or slaughtered on the farm, for the family's own use or for sale as meat.