By THE RAMBLER 27/04/2001
LISBURN'S leading animal feed providers, Robert and David Thompson, weren't slow to respond to the improved demand for poultry and pig meals. There were farmers out there needing supplies, and without facilities to place orders, except by calling personally. During shop hours they had no time to shop around and, of course, few of them had phones.
The answer was obvious. The supplier had to go to the customer. David Thompson immediately did a round of the farms and arranged to call with each of his customers after working hours on a set day - in the case of James and Becky, every second Tuesday. Soon he became almost a member of the family, monitoring progress and guiding them at every stage - an invaluable partner.
Even Tim listened to David, headstrong and all that that boyo was. Actually, David was impressed by the lad's mature performance. He really took to farming like a duck to water and he was a born 'fixer'. If anything needed mending, Tim took it apart and persevered till he got it usable; an invaluable lad whom even new neighbours called on when they had a problem, because he was always ready. When appropriate, he headed off on an ancient boneshaker bicycle, to Napiers smithy to get a bit of welding done quickly
One of Tim's early achievements was to rebuild a buckled bicycle wheel. He set off to Cousins for a rim, a tape and spokes and after weary hours of counting spokes, lacing, tightening, slackening etc, he got the new wheel to run true in the forks. That really made him a genius in the eyes of his peers, and soon he had them queuing up to get their bikes fixed
At bedtime in the summer, Tim was to be found at work on the floor of the barn with a number of pals and various scrapyard-style apologies for bicycles littered around to be canniballed to produce one functioning model. Cotter-pins, brake pads, valve nuts, adjusters, broken mudguards, bits and pieces everywhere! Cousins, the bicycle shop owner, did supplier. Fortunately most small pieces cost only a few pence
James always made his own paint. Orange lead (powder) boiled linseed oil, called 'paint oil' and turpentine, properly mixed, made a primer which was used universally. 'Brunswick blue' for cars., and of course white for windows, all mixed in the same way. Tar was used for shed roofs, and some doors, and of course, white-wash, ie lime wash, was widely used for exterior walls. Cottier houses were also white-washed internally
In a word, small farmers made only minimum use of paint suppliers. Dark, mid and light oak varnish paints and stains were in vogue for interior decoration. They were about the only paints which were not home-made
A quaint legend has been handed down in that context. Alexander Goldie a famous local wheelwright, was finishing a wheel for a 'Governess' trap one day when the village doctor, W W Duff cycled along and paused to watch Alex at work with orange lead and putty. 'Putty and paint covers all your mistakes Alexander' he quipped. 'Aye doctor' was the instant retort' and a spade and shovel covers yours!'