By The Rambler 20/04/2001
WITH the job of cutting up a pork pig and putting it down to cure well done, and a tightener of pork ribs beneath his belt. Dick-the-butcher was happy to remain for a while's craic
James seized the opportunity to enlist his help to persuade Becky to dump the old plunge churn and invest in an end-over-end model to save labour
"Dick you have an end-over-end churn what do you think of it?" "Wouldn't be without it. This wumman of yours is a glutton for punishment. Why don't you come and try your hand at ours? The missus would be glad to see you. She churns every Wednesday afternoon about two o'clock."
"I know Dick. I have seen Minnie Wilson's. I would have one if there was any place to put it. They take up a whole kitchen with their big legs
"But you wouldn't have the old one? The new one wouldn't take up all that more room," James ventured
"I'll tell you what you could do," Dick remarked, getting to his feet. "See that porch. That aul chimney pot with the flower pot on it, doesn't pay the rent. That is where the missus stores ours when it is not in use. Plenty of room? What do you think?"
"I suppose I could try it," Becky murmured. "I find using a churn staff nearly too much for me now. Sometimes my back is so sore I can hardly stoop to dress the butter. I'll have to do something. When Tim leaves school he could help but he spends every minute he has carpentering."
"That settles it," James said."'I have one half bought off Henry Gillen. I'll go back to Jefferson's tomorrow." Becky remained silent and Dick and James exchanged a knowing look
The next day, Becky had all thoughts of churns driven out of her head when Tim arrived home from school nearly two hours early, and flung his school bag under the table. "What's up son? What's up?" his mother pleaded. "Nothing. Nothing's up, Ma, just leave me alone. I'm not going back. I'm only wasting my time and I could do more at home."
With that he threw off his school coat and headed for the barn. Next moment she heard the hammer going. Becky really was mystified. James was out in the field and she just had to wait till the wee ones came in
"Where's Tim? Where's Tim?" they chorused. "He threw his book in the fire and walked out on the Master because he got slapped. The Master told us to tell you the bad boy he is."
Bit by bit, Becky got the whole story. Tim and three other big boys had come back half-an-hour late when the bell went at lunch hour. They had stayed at McRobert's Auction
The Master had lined them up and given them six slaps apiece, three on either hand. Tim had been last and as soon as the Master had finished, Tim had picked up his exercise book from his desk and put it in the fire. Then, he had picked up his school bag and marched out of the door, leaving the Master speechless
There was a right row when James came in but Tim stood his ground. He had only a month or two to go, and he insisted that he had had enough of school. He wanted to get cracking at home. There was two much for his Dad and he couldn't afford to pay a man.:.. Becky and James were beaten. Tim was a big lad, taller than his Dad and stubborn. They decided to say nothing but to let Tim cool off
He cooled off all right. The Master came and read him a lecture, but he only wasted his breath. Tim was not for turning
In no time he was able to handle the horses as well as his Dad. He took to farming as a duck to water. As well he had "hands for anything" as the old folk put it. Carpentry, mending machinery, cutting hedges, looking after day-old-chicks and laying hens. He really was go ahead. The only thing holding him back was limited money but egg money and fowl money were on the up.
Soon James had another decision to make. The older of his two horses had slowed down and the younger one was inclined to trample him when they were turning on the headrig when pulling a plough or a harrow. Twice lately a shoe had come off
As well James needed a third horse to avoid having the team out of commission every time he had to go to Lisburn market or take corn to Magheragall Mill, or go for lime which happened regularly. Tim got frustrated and nagged constantly about the need for a third horse
When it came to harvesting the potatoes and Tim had to loose one horse from the digger so that his dad could take a full cart to be emptied, the lads' temper flared
There was nothing else for it. Lames had to invest in a third horse