Portrait of  John & Marina Garner

John & Marina Garner

Little Stone Stile Farm, Faversham


Farmer’s name John Garner, Marina Garner
Age 77
Location Little Stone Stile Farm, Faversham
Size 170 acres
Type Mixed

Interviewed by: Joe Spence and Baely Saunders
Filmed by: Joe Spence
Date: 26 October 2015


Joe: Could you just begin by, just the name of the farm [Garner: Yes] and what you grow on the farm [Garner: Yes] and how long the farm’s been in existence.

John Garner: Yes, well we took over the tenancy in 1965 of Little Stone Stile Farm, Selling, and there were 9 small farms in the village then, most of them growing vegetables, fruit, and several of them keeping pigs and some keeping poultry, and we, at valuation, had to take blackberries, raspberries, apples, pears, cherries and green vegetables, which we didn’t really want, but we kept them going for up to 4 years with the raspberries, and got rid of the others as soon as we could. And the tenancy agreement said that the old orchards had to be grubbed, and in those days there was agricultural support for small farmers wishing to improve, and we got a grant and had the orchards grubbed and, as soon as we came here, we started a herd of pigs with some pregnant sows with the idea of having a pig herd and growing as much barley as we could to feed the pigs. And we had a pig herd for 40 years. But the other small farms in the district disappeared. Some of them the nice houses or cottages were sold off and the land amalgamated into neighbouring farms, some of them just became private occupation instead of smallholdings or farms and, in the end, we were the only full time small farm left in the village. And we kept the pigs for 40 years and then we sold what corn we grew instead of feeding it to the pigs and, as things moved on, after 50 years, we have the arable work done for us, we pay someone to contract the combine and cultivations, the pigs are gone and our time is mostly maintenance of the tress, the buildings, the hedges and trying to keep it in order.

[Interruption while ticking clock is moved from interfering with audio]

Garner: What shall I rabbit on about now? Oh yes, we had these raspberries, we had an acre and half of raspberries and an acre and a quarter of blackberries. Well, blackberries aren’t too bad, they ripen slowly and so it’s possible to get those picked, but the raspberries come with a rush and we had at least a dozen pickers who came from the village, they were wives, widows, the previous tenant, but it was just made up of local people, most of whom were self propelled and just arrived, and that’s a big change because the local people don’t usually want to pick fruit now so farmers with fruit have to search overseas.

Joe: When did that begin to change, the labour force that works?

Garner: Well, when we finished with the raspberries, we didn’t need much labour and we worked the place just on our own to begin with, then as the pig herd increased, the largest number of sows we had was 30, which meant about 300, 330 stock altogether, and then a woman from the village, was the policeman’s wife, she came and helped on 2 afternoons a week and she was very good. We find that with small animals like piglets that women are often very good with them and we did well then. I had a bacon contract with what was called the Fat Stock Marketing Corporation, although they didn’t really want fat stock, they wanted very lean stock and we bred pigs so it would make a nice, what’s called the Wiltshire cure, where you’d see half a pig hanging up in the grocers with a smoke cure, and we were very good at that, and we had a contract for 23 years until there were various new regulations coming in, via the supermarkets, and they wanted assurance that the pigs were alright to eat. And this filtered through that various rules and regulations had to be kept on the farm. Our pigs were top class, Large White pigs but one of the rules was that the steps they had to walk up, to get into their sleeping quarters mustn’t be over 6 inches high but, as some of our pigs could clear a 4ft fence, it wasn’t really a worry, but it was from the regulation. But the assurance scheme, where we would market our pigs, only made a penny a kg difference, so we just carried on without being assured until they brought in the rule that everyone had to be assured, and then we marketed the pigs via an electronic auction and we would describe the pigs and they would be collected and taken, perhaps to Norwich, to Hampshire, wherever someone bought them, and that worked very well because they paid extra for our top quality. The bacon pigs had had to go to Bristol sometimes, very long haul, there was a small factory at Lenham only 15 miles away but that was the way things worked. There were various regulations on the abattoirs which made it very expensive for them to modernise and many of them closed, including the one 10 miles away in Canterbury which had been useful for taking old sows and small pigs that we didn’t want to send for bacon. There’d also been livestock markets in Ashford, there’s still one there, but the old one was in the middle of the town which meant interesting traffic jams at 8 o’clock in the morning. There was one in Canterbury which is now a housing estate. The Canterbury one was good because, when we couldn’t do the bacon contract anymore, we took pigs in in the car trailer and local butchers would pay a premium for our rather special pigs, that abattoir, that market closed, and the abattoir in Canterbury also closed of course, and those butchers started buying elsewhere and so, the pigs that we did have were mostly going off on the electronic auction, where they got a better price, but not so good as they should have done for the quality. And then, as I say, we’d had enough with the pigs, and also I’d been getting my old age pension for 2 years, which was rather nice because that just goes into the bank without you having to clean out the pigs.

Joe: So these regulations that came in, was it too expensive to modernise, [Garner: yes] what was the specific impact it had on you?

Garner: It would have been mostly altering the buildings, and then to having inspectors come in and criticise things they didn’t know much about, which as a self-employed chap is highly annoying. But it wasn’t economic to alter so much with the buildings mostly.

Joe: And those regulations, are they coming down from the EU or from, is it just the supermarkets?

Garner: Well, originally, yes, they started with a minister of Agriculture, that’s when we had a ministry of agriculture instead of a department. John Selwyn Gummer had some very good ideas about abattoirs, that’s what closed the abattoirs. Canterbury abattoir had just modernised, I think it was a half a million pounds, but that didn’t suit the regulations because the carcasses had to be hung on rust free hooks, and they’d put in galvanised steel hooks, but they weren’t good enough, they had to change them all to stainless steel hooks. So that’s a relatively small expense, but it’s the sort of nitty-gritty of that.

Joe; I suppose for a smaller farm it’s enough to…

Garner: Well, yes, that was the abattoir gone, and if we’d had to spend a lot of money on the buildings, thinking how many more years we’d be keeping pigs, it wasn’t really worth it. Because pigs used to have, what you probably heard of as the pig cycle, where the prices would be very high, people would come into pig production, there’d be a glut of pigs and the prices would drop, people loosing money, so most of them went out and, those that were left in were paid a lot of money again, so up went the price again. And then that sort of leveled out; but it leveled out below a reasonable price unfortunately. But another big change was when we did go into the EU, yes I voted to go in, the National Farmers Union said “yes, it’s best to go in for trade.” It suited cereal farmers very well, the price of cereals went up, to more near the world price, which had a detrimental effect on pig production because the food was much more expensive. Also, we couldn’t control imports of pork and bacon and, when there was a glut in Europe, good quality pork and bacon was dumped on the market which depressed the price, and so things did become very difficult and the profit per pig was pretty low so most of the people staying in expanded their herds tremendously, on borrowed money, that was the way to do it to get a reasonable income from the pigs.

Joe: What changed in the world to transform farming from, as you were talking about, the family orientated thing to this really corporate…

Joe: It’s been quite interesting talking to different farmers who have very different feelings about the EU and about our current relationship with the European Union. Some farmers have said that it’s immensely frustrating in terms of, a lot of people mention the increased levels of bureaucracy which is extremely difficult to negotiate, but at the same time, a lot of farmers have said the majority of farmers couldn’t leave the EU, and wouldn’t vote to leave the EU, for the reason that the…. normally the subsidies is what keeps them afloat

Garner: Yes, that’s changed this year, yes. I think for arable farmers the EU seems to have been a much better bet than for livestock farmers, because one is walking on very thin ice as a livestock farmer, that was another reason we gave up after 40 years, we thought we’re going to do something wrong in their eyes, sooner or later. Yes, all the ear numbers and tattoos have to be exactly right, no mistakes allowed. I think if the transport of the animals, because when we were very small to begin with we took animals live to Ashford, mostly Ashford, sometimes Canterbury Market, and then as we got larger, the bacon contract, the contractors arranged transport and a lorry would come round perhaps 4 or 5 farms in Kent; Wye College Farm, us, the prison on the Isle of Sheppey. It would make up a load and then take them off to Bristol. Well, after foot and mouth, swine vesicular disease, didn’t affect us but the mad cow disease, BSE, the government quite rightly said we must clamp down on moving from farm to farm, each farm must send it’s own pigs individually. So, we used to just send once every, perhaps 3 weeks, to try and make up a load and then we’d have the whole cost of them going to Norwich or Eastley or wherever it was, which increased the transport cost no end. And we still just took odd sows and a few pigs around in a car trailer. Marina? What was that you were trying to show me? I couldn’t read it at that distance

Marina: I was just saying that we did take pigs to the new Ashford market didn’t we? [Garner: To Ashford market?] And it was the red tractor steam wasn’t it that really [Garner: Yes, that is the sort of assurance scheme] [inaudible]

Joe: So I think where we left it, you explained the reasons behind you getting out of pigs… Shall we move onto your early experiences when you delved into fruit production?

Garner: The fruit production, yes. The raspberries were the big thing. The top fruit, the apples and the pears and things, that went during the first year. The raspberries were the big thing and we picked those, they went up to London, sorry… that’s better, from a local haulier. So the process was the 12 pickers picked them during the day, in the early evening I drove them up in the back of the van, about a couple of miles to Mr. Hopkins, who had several lorries and went up to London daily. He took them up to London where they’d be auctioned at Spitalfields, and then I should get the cheque at the end of the week. What didn’t run smoothly was that, when they were auctioned, sometimes they didn’t sell, and the man who arranged this didn’t let me know so, we’d be picking for the second day and they probably wouldn’t be worth it. So he said ’oh I tried to ring you’ but we knew he hadn’t because Marina was indoors all the time with the baby. So we fitted an enormous bell on the outside of the house that could be heard 100 yards away and that way got around him. But I wasn’t brought up, and I never intended to be, in soft fruit production and I found it pretty frustrating but it can, or it could, be very profitable then. So farmers I knew who were in soft fruit production said ’no that was a bad raspberry year, when you have a good raspberry year you’ll be jolly glad you stayed in it’ So we kept the raspberries for 4 years, during which time there was never a good raspberry year. Then we put a fence round the raspberries, a pig fence, and turned a group of porkers in, which saw them off alright. But I had the raspberries trained on wire and I coiled up the wire before the pigs went in, I think it was 1 and half miles of it. We were never short of wire after that.

John: The blackberries were quite easy, and they kept on, but they never made a very high price, they were just worth doing, so again they’d been in for 40 years. I think if they’d been a more modern variety they would be more suitable for the market and easier to manage because the variety we had was Himalayas and, if you’ve ever been near a Himalaya, you’ll know what sort of thorns they have, ho wonderfully vigorous the cane is and how they have that knack, when you’re training them and working on them, of putting a long end up I the air, round the back and pulling your hat off. So you can see, I wasn’t really a soft fruit enthusiast. And after about 4 years we were entirely pigs and barley. We had a local farm with a little combine who harvested the barley, but otherwise we did the ploughing, and the cultivations, and the drilling. The first year we were here, as one farmer friend told me, he said “when you go to a farm on your own, you will have nothing, you wont be able to borrow my spanner” So, we didn&rsquot have many tools, I did actually go and buy a large, good quality, Swedish, adjustable spanner for 30 shillings, which I still have. We needed a tractor, and I bought a second hand Fergusson tractor, that is a Fergusson, not a Massy Fergusson, the little grey tractor for £185, and that worked very well. I went to an Ashford machinery auction and bought a 2 furrow Fergusson plough for £20, a spring time cultivator, I think that was as much as £35, and I bought a Cooks sack lifter, because we harvested in sacks then, and a Cooks sack lifter was a Victorian contraption where you wound the sack up to a height where you could carry a 200 weight sack of corn. I also had to get the stuff home but luckily my bid for a flat trailer, tractor trailer, of £20 was accepted, so the following day I went down on the grey tractor, which did, I think 10 miles an hour, hooked on my new trailer, lifted stuff on with the Cooks sack lifter, and came back with enough equipment to sow barley. And, except the actual corn drill, and I’d had to have someone else do some sewing the first year, and that was a local contractor who had an old Deening Chard combine drill which he’d use, which put on the fertilizer and the seed together, and when he’d finished he said ’you can buy that’ and I bought it for £8 which is what he asked. I didn’t say ’does that include the tarpaulin?’ but early next morning I saw him come in the yard and whip the tarpaulin away, which was probably worth more than £8. He was swanking in the pub that evening, I heard, that he’d sold it for £8 and knew where there was another one for £5. We used that for quite a few years but then we had the opportunity to get a better one, which was a Massy Fergusson combine drill, and I think I paid £200 for that. So that’s where the machinery came from, which did the job well enough but, more recently the National Institute of Agricultural Engineering and others had worked on the process of sewing seed more accurately, and these drills we see nowadays which look like a bundle of hosepipes going into harrows and par-harrows and rollers, from an enormous hopper, they do an extremely good job but they’re completely out of the price range of small farms, so what happens is, they’re bought by or leased by the large farms, who must think ’gosh what a lot of money’ and they like to spread the cost of the machinery by sewing other people’s crops, and that suits us both very well. And that’s how it has become, after 50 years here, we have a neighbour farmer who brings his tackle down, with an enormous drill, a foreign load or mat borough heavy duty, a 5 furrow reversible plough perhaps, and he sews our little bit in a matter of a couple of days, and the yields are better. The combine harvester can still just about get round the lanes, so we’re alright there and it’s suiting our age. The heavy lifting of 50kg bags of seed, and the corn drill, and 50kg bags of fertilizer into the corn drill, those days are over and from the corn merchant’s point of view, they don’t have to search around for someone who still packs fertilizer in 50kg bags because it comes in something like half a tonne at a time.

Joe: A lot of farmers I’ve spoken to, especially small farms, have spoken about this, almost history, or tradition of farms cooperating, working together, “scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”, that kind of thing. Could you say a little bit more about that and whether you’ve noticed that change at all over your period here on the farm?

Garner: Yes, when we were first here there was a farm of a similar size next door, and we had a better corn drill, and he had a fertilizer spinner, and so we used to borrow each other’s equipment without payment. Someone else might need 2 tractors working at once so we’d lend a tractor. When we came we were buying pig food ready mixed, ready made, beautifully packaged in half 100 weight bags, and it was jolly expensive so, I’d always planned to get a mill to grind our own barley, and we brought that forward. That’s the time we did borrow a little money, to get it earlier, so we could grind our own barley, and we put thousands of tonnes through that during the time we had it. Later on, one or two of the other local pig people wanted, just wanted a few bags done and we used to run their cereals through the mill and do that. I think the way things are changed is that nowadays the machines are so enormous and valuable that usually they are hired from one farm to another, machines that they don’t own or lease hire but, as I say, a lot of the very big tractors that we see are on a lease hire agreement which means that they keep modern machinery on the farm. Don’t know what else I can say about that.

Joe: On the topic of the experience of small farms in particular, as part of this project what we’ve seen is that actually a lot of the small farms are disappearing. We’ve met a lot of big farmers and a lot of them tell stories that they’ve bought this farm, or that acreage, and bit by bit a lot of the smallholdings have more or less disappeared. Is this…How have you managed to stick around?

Garner: Well, I did study agriculture before I came here. Briefly, the history was, local grammar school, then 2 years military service, which all boys did if they were reasonably healthy. Then I did a degree at Cambridge University in Agriculture. Then I worked for a year on a dairy farm as assistant cow-man, although much of the time was spent tractor driving. Then I worked for 2 and half years on a market garden farm, but I was the pig-man because they had a herd of pedigree large white pigs. And that was very valuable on a practical side. Then we looked for a farm, a small farm to buy, at a time when £200 an acre would be very expensive, makes one laugh now. And we looked at one or two, the accommodation was extremely rough, or non-existent, but we were young and foolish, but then this farm came up as a tenancy. And, there’d been an Act of Parliament after the first world war where county councils had to provide farms or smallholdings for the farm workers and so on who’d survived the first world war and would perhaps be given a step on the farming ladder. And this farm we saw was offered to tenants, or prospective tenants, who had to put in a budget, and a plan of what they would do, and there were 9 of us after this particular farm, Little Stone Stile, and we put a plan in that we would change the farm to pigs and barley. The landlord, the Kent County Council they interviewed Marina, my wife, myself, and they said ’the farm hasn’t many buildings’ which is true, still is, but in the end anyway, they gave the tenancy to us on condition that we grub the old fruit, and we rented it for 33 years. After about 25 years the county council weren’t getting the applications from tenants and, being short of money, they put a feeler out to see if tenants would buy their farms, which was very exciting to us, having been here for 25 years paying rent, and the rent of course does go up, and also we look into the future and think ’Well, what is going to happen to us and the place?’, so we said ’Yes we’re interested, how much?’ But they didn’t say until we’d badgered them for a long while and then they sent a town valuer out, who gave a very high price, and our valuer we’d employed said ’Tell them it’s ludicrous and not worth pursuing’ and we thought ’Well, that’s that, we wont be able to stay here when we’re old and can no longer farm’. But, low and behold, when we’d been here 33 years they again were interested and they were very keen to sell, so we got our old valuer back in again, and he did the negotiations and, as we were sitting tenants with a tenancy agreement that we could stay here for quite a while, we were able to buy it and… Marina? Are you still there? It was quite an interesting 11 days. May I go and get her?

Joe: Of course, yeah.

[Mr Garner goes to get his wife, Marina]

Garner: I’m telling them of how James Linnington worked on the County Council and came up with the price we could afford in 1998 and, in the 11 days, we heard we’d got the farm, our youngest daughter was married, and I had my 60th birthday. So it was quite an eventful 11 days! What else were we talking about? Shall we tell them about, are you interested in what the place was like when we arrived in 1965? Because we’d only heard about it at the beginning of February and we took possession on the 1st of March, so it all happened quite quickly. And, the 1st of March that’s right, and we brought our various sticks of furniture over during that week, and actually came to live here on the 8th March 1965. And it was cloudy and cold, there’d been some recent snow but it was that sort of wet snow that goes grey and we came in here, into this room and lit a fire in the fireplace and it didn’t seem to get any warmer. There were various draughts, and we walked out in the field, and the predecessor had kept outdoor poultry, and the poultry had scratched up the little flints in the field we all “Flinty bank”, and the rain had washed the soil off so that, when you looked out, it looked lie a sea of flints, these white flints across the field, and we wondered what we’d done. I have to tell you that our first child was born July 14th so Marina was fairly large in March and, oh and the house, what with the house dear? We didn’t have a hot water system did we?

Marina: No, no running hot water, Lino on the floor [Garner: Oh yes] Very thin curtains, which our predecessors had kindly left us, cold wasn’t it? We lived at the other side, there were 2 kitchens because the unmarried sister of the farmer came to live here and they decided they needed 2 kitchens. They didn’t think 2 women in a kitchen would work. So they had a single [Garner: Extension] yeah, but a single thickness wall, it wasn’t insulated, over there, which is now our boots room. So, we lived over there with a little oven they left called a Giant Jackson, which was about this big, and a primus, so I cooked on this little oven and the primus. What else?


Garner: Well it was a very cold spring wasn’t it? [Marina: Yes it was very cold] (whispering) teapot, teapot, [Marina: Sorry?] The teapot…

Marina: Oh yes, yes, well when we, yes it was very cold and the teapot used to freeze to the windowsill. I was all right, cause being pregnant, your circulation improves, so I was quite warm. Yes and in April, that’s when you harvested the cauliflower in the snow. Do you remember? [Garner: Easter was in April that year] Yes, on my birthday it snowed, 20th of April it snowed. [Garner: Yes ] I didn’t go out that day but I used to waddle amongst the cauliflower with a stick and point to ones that were ready to cut because, you know, I couldn’t get down to cut the things [Garner: And I cut them and put them in a sack] and took them off to Ashford Market.

Garner: Yes, Ashford Market had a little vegetable and fruit sale on oddments, which catered for smallholders, had a weekly sale, and that’s where these cauliflower went. We cut 2000 cauliflower, ploughed the poor ones in, and the average price was 6 old pence, that’s 2 and a half ’P’. But it was worth doing because we’d had to pay for them at valuation too, so I didn’t want to plough them all in [Marina: We weren’t earning anything were we? From the pigs at that stage, so we had no income, we were living on our savings weren’t we?] The plan was, when we took the tenancy, the landlord would put the hot water system in, put a Rayburn in the kitchen. Which they did, but not for 4 years.

Marina: By which time our second daughter was born. We had, yes, we had a copper didn’t we? We had a copper, which we had to put cold water in and light a fire underneath if we wanted a bath. And I bathed the baby in a bowl [Garner: Yes, you put the bowl in the sink didn’t you] Bowl in the sink. My father bought us a big kettle and so I could heat the water, bath the baby. I didn’t bath her everyday. Not with those facilities! And this kitchen, did we have Lino or was this floor just [Garner: It’s all… Mostly Lino because it’s concrete underneath] Concrete underneath but you can still see that they put down pebbles underneath and then laid the concrete, and it wasn’t a very thick Skree? Skree? Skree and, when the house was modernised, they didn’t put another Skree? Skree? Skree on the top and so I can still see the lumps of the pebbles coming through the thermo, showing up, thermo plastic tiles. That was when Mary was 4 and Janet was 2, was when [Garner: Yes, when the house was modernised] and then they made a bathroom upstairs. We had one big bedroom and they made the end of that bedroom into a bathroom, so we had quite, you know, a modern bath. But the window soon rotted didn’t it? And had a big draught in there. I mean our girls, you know, I don’t know how they survived! Well, we still haven’t got central heating, but they used to say ’ohhh it’s cold’ and they still say it’s cold and we think ’oh, wear another jumper’ you know? Yes, they wanted to take the Rayburn out didn’t they? At one stage, and put a boiler in the kitchen, do you remember? And we said ’No thank you, we’ll keep the Rayburn’. We prefer the Rayburn cause it warms the kitchen, makes it really comfortable. So that’s the only sort of built-in heating isn’t it? And then we light the fire in the winter.

Garner: We don’t want central heating because there’s nowhere to put the radiators. It looks a big house from the outside but [Marina: the rooms are long and narrow aren’t they? And we decided that really, so everybody grumbles…] So we got, we use, whatever happens we can heat the house because we can have an open fire here, we can have the Rayburn with solid fuel, we’ve got various fan heaters. A farmer who lived in a Victorian farmhouse with very high ceilings, he said ’That’s the quickest way of heating a big cold room – have a fan heater’ so we got various fan heaters, you just flick a switch and the small rooms are, yeah… What else?

Marina: We had a walk in larder when we first came here, which I really missed, but the wall was knocked down to make this big kitchen [Garner: yes, with a big slate shelf to keep it cool.] Yes, yes. [Garner: Oh and of course, outside loo, didn’t we [inaudible]] Oh, the outside loo, in the winter, for a townie, I didn’t like that at all. So, and being pregnant you have to go to the loo more often, so John used to have to come outside if it was dark and wait outside, cause I didn’t like the dark.

Joe: How did they ever sleep?


Joe: Would you say then that your life’s, farming and the lifestyle that’s had to go with it has got more comfortable over the years or?

Garner: Yes, it has here! [Marina: yes, it has in this house] See our carpet. It had this same concrete floor here, in the sitting room, and they’d had a rug on it, and we put a rug on it, but the concrete had Lino over it. And so the rug went on the Lino. But the Lino was quite old, but, I mean, it was as good as we could afford, you know, so it stayed there.

Marina: Yes, but we decided to remove it when our first child moved her play pen, and we found her chewing a piece of Lino, and we thought ‘It’s got to go, we can’t, we can’t…’

Garner: So we pulled it up and, between the Lino and the concrete, were newspapers. There was an article on Lloyd George, so they were quite old. [Marina: W. G. Grace] Oh, W. G. Grace, how well he was doing at the cricket, yes! Yes!>

Joe: Have you still got them?

Garner: Well it was sort of stuck on the Lino, we do keep, I’m afraid I do keep a lot of stuff but [inaudible]

Marina: So, now we have the Rayburn and the big cooker…

Garner: It is more comfortable and, since we’ve owned it, we’ve been able to do things to the house and we have had, after much thought, we’ve had cavity wall insulation, we’ve insulated the roof space, you know with the [inaudible] sort of thing. We’ve had the front wall re-pointed because a few years ago the rain came through…

Marina: Winter before last…

Joe: Do you live on the farm? Or in the past have you been a resident?.

Joe: And you’ve remained there for your whole career?

Fox: Well I lived down on the farm at first, but then I moved up in there in 1980…1990 sorry.

Garner: Winter before last there was a storm, when the heavy rain, we had an inch of rain, which came horizontally, and it got through the wall and did quite a bit of damage. Because these county council small holdings, the houses are built to a very good specification, but the building isn’t supervised so, our roof space for example, you can hardly get in there for these great timbers supporting everything. And what they call the cavity trays above the windows, would shed the water out if it gets in the cavity, but they’d been left full of mortar so it soaked through into the house and 4 windows had damaged the wall. So, this is all being done, or been done, we’ve just had the chimney rebuilt, so everything is improving and it’s a nice, well we love it don’t we, although it’s so rough? But, I mean, compared with what it was, with 3 cold taps, no Rayburn or anything, no hot water system, electricity had recently been put on by the, sorry?

Marina: We did buy a Geezer, didn’t we? We bought a Geezer [inaudible]

Garner: Yes, earning

Garner: That’s right, yes

Marina: And perhaps they, when they came home from university in the summer vacation.

Garner: Yes, looking for a job. Possibly it’s when they started growing more strawberries under polythene they found they couldn’t get enough pickers, and there are other jobs around, and a lot of women might prefer being on the checkout in the supermarket than being out in the rain, and the easiest way was to go through an agency and have pickers from, well they’re locally they’re Latvia, but Poland. And that works very well, they have a very good work ethic, suits the farmer, they’ll work in pretty awful conditions, and they get accommodation in something perhaps like caravans, and they used to be transported in minibuses but, as things grew, they’re now transported in a double decker, which was a bit of a surprise the first time we saw it coming down the lane.

Marina: Especially as our bathroom has clear windows! The builders put clear glass in and it overlooks the road. [Garner: Yes, yes…] They have up to 500 don’t they? Pickers.

Garner: Yes, that’s what we hear, 5 or 6 hundred, but, I mean it’s not for me to say, but that’s how we see it, and I think it’s, from what we hear other fruit farmers talking about, is that they have to go to get reliable force to harvest the fruit at the right time.

Joe: In your experience, these workers, I mean they’re more reliable, they work harder?

Garner: The foreign workers do, yes

Marina: So we hear, I mean we’ve never employed them cos…

Garner: No, we… Marina picked up a couple of Polish workers who’d come over here, not through an agency, with the idea that there were so many jobs, and such good pay, they would just… And they were camping on the verge at the next village…

Marina: Chillham…

Garner: So Marina said, ’Well these old people around you are making a fuss already, you’d better come and camp on our farm’. And it was quite difficult to find them a job, but Marina found them a job working for a woodman, wasn’t it?

Marina: Godfrey Burns (sp)

Garner: Yes, and other things, and they were very good. And in the end, we have a little old caravan, and as it got into winter we said ’You’d better leave your tent and sleep in there’ and we began to wonder how long we’d be with them.

Marina: They’d be with us, yes…

Baely: (To Joe) …no

Garner: Yes, that was alright but thy obviously had the idea that it was the land of milk and honey. And they were prepared to work but it was just connecting them up with the jobs, so the advice in their own country is to go through an agency.


Marina: We used to have a village shop…

Garner: Oh yeah, that’s been a big change from the anthropology point of view isn’t it?

Joe: Did that make life more difficult for a farm worker or just different?

Marina: We used to have a village shop who, an elderly couple ran it when we first came here and then, when they retired, a younger couple came, and he’d been a manager at one of the Tesco shops, I think. And he was very good because he would go and look for good offers, you know, and then, oh he died, quite young, very suddenly didn’t he? It was very sad. And so she, obviously she moved, and another couple took over, but he had very grand ideas and they sold very expensive cheeses and things like that which most people in the village didn’t want, so they didn’t last very long and it was sold, and now it’s just residential. But it’s still called Blythes…

Marina: …after the original. There used to be a bus didn’t there?

Garner: Yes, about twice a week.

Marina: yes, about twice a week. Now there’s, you can subscribe, I think it’s about £5 a year and, I think the bus runs 3 or 4 days a week, goes into Faversham for 2 hours, and you pay about 75 pence

Garner: And it picks you up from the house.

Marina: And it picks you up from your house, so, it’s mainly elderly people who use it but you don’t have to be elderly. So that’s a great improvement, of course we’ve got a railway station. There was talk of the trains not stopping at it, and a lot of the secondary school children use it to get to school. But we petitioned and it still stops at Selling.

Garner: Deliveries

Marina: Oh yes, when we first came here we had meat and bread and milk delivered, which went on for a long time didn’t it?

Garner: And newspapers if we wanted them.

Marina: Yes, well we didn’t have time to read newspapers did we?

Garner: We had 4 bakers deliveries, 4 firms.

Marina: Yes, and we had milk delivered for a long time until it reached 50 pence a pint, and the dairy farmers were going out, I don’t know, 10 a week, something like that at that stage, so I wrote to the dairy and said I didn’t wish to continue having milk delivered because the processors weren’t paying the dairy farmers enough, and they wrote back and said ’some people can manage if they have 1 less, 1 pint less a week’ completely missing the point which, well I didn’t bother to pursue it further. But I think there is still a milkman delivering isn’t there? or there has been until very recently. Yes, we buy it from the supermarket, and Morrisons are now doing Farmer’s milk and paying the farmer more because, although they said they would pay more, the processors weren’t passing it on and, only the few weeks ago, they started selling Farmer’s milk, which is 23 pence for pints more expensive, so it’s still not expensive.

Garner:I had originally intended to go into dairy farming. That’s why I did 1 year on a dairy farm as assistant cowman for some practical experience. But looking back on it, I’m glad I didn’t. At that time one could go into dairy farming with what’s called a bale milker, that’s like a row of 3 or 4 stalls on a skid, and use the churns supplied by the dairy and very little else. Whereas now it has to be refrigerated tanks, bottle parlour, and very expensive equipment, all added to what has always been the case with dairy farming, which is a very long day and stringent hygiene controls, which the whole staff, the whole farm has to maintain. Which can be done, particularly if you have a bale milker out in the field. But I think pigs were enough of a tie.

Marina: Yes, but you didn’t like the pigs, so noisy!

Garner: I thought the pigs’ characters left a lot to be desired

Marina: No, you loved the [inaudible]]

Garner: I did get fond of the occasional adult pig and I seemed to have some sort of bonding with the boars. We had some very nice boars. And with the boar, I mean they’re often kept 3 or 4 years and they have a bit more dignity and self control that the others, so, yes I did like the boars.

Marina: I know you did, you used to walk them up through the farm didn’t you? [inaudible] if they were going to visit one of their lady friends, they knew exactly where they were going!

Garner: Yes, I had a job to keep up with them! We have 3 daughters and our youngest daughter, as a small child, said she wanted to adopt a pig, so I thought, ’oh dear’ because the pigs don’t last that long on the farm, but there was a young sow and I thought, ’Well that’s a reliable one’, so we said, ’ok, you can adopt her, what are you going to call her?’ and for some reason or other she called her Jane. Whether she’d heard of someone called Jane, I don’t know, or whether Jane was like a pig, anyway, Jane we tried to keep going a bit longer, and she had 140 piglets in, reared in, 14 litters; so 10 reared average, in 14, was pretty exceptional.


Marina: Was she upset when she died? She was quite matter of fact about it

Garner: Well she was so much older then, it wasn’t so bad, she’d got her other interests I think. No, most of the pigs were just a number and every pig born on the farm had a number, which was tattooed in it’s ear, and my dear wife had the job of holding the pigs while I put the tattoo in the ear, and it’s a noisy process because as soon as you pick up a pig of about 3 or 4 weeks old, it starts screaming. Which could be partly the reason why I’m going deaf now. But every pig had a number, so we started with number 1, 2, 3, 4. A litter of 10 would have been 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 then the next, 11, 12, 13, 14, so it went on till we got to 999 and then we started again, by which time most of the earlier numbers had moved on. This meant that if I could get the bacon factory to record the number against the grade I could see which pigs were producing the best bacon pigs. The bacon factory, bless them, usually forget to do it or didn’t bother on a really important week when I wanted to know but it did improve it and we were able to improve the quality of the breed, and we bought our boars from a reliable source, and then later on AI, artificial insemination of cattle had been going on for years, but they managed to start it with pigs, which for various scientific reasons was more difficult, and we were able to use very valuable AI boars on our best sows, which meant further improvement. I think nowadays I’d have used AI even more, as it became more reliable, and so, when we finished, we were producing very good pigs. Luckily, when we sold the breeding stock, quite a few of them went to other farmers, other people who knew our pigs. One batch went to a farmer in Sussex, with a larger farm, who already had Large White pigs, and I was very pleased with that. I asked later on, after a year or 2, how things were doing, he said ’We’ve had to give up all the pigs, they’ve all gone’ The reason was, he let his pregnant sows run in a wood, which is very good for pigs, particularly if they have white skin because they don’t get sunburnt, they’ve got a cool or warm environment as they choose, they can burrow in the leaf mold and, the reason was that the wood was more important than the pigs because the Wildlife DEFRA organisation said the pigs were spoiling some of the trees. He could either put the pigs in buildings somewhere, which he didn’t have, or give them up. And he said it’s too expensive… And that was another herd of pigs that went. And the wood, I hope, is now flourishing and they probably want to know how they can clear the undergrowth from it. I don’t know whether he’s suggested having pigs in there. But that is the way things go with changing scenes of pig life.

Joe: How are we doing for time, what are we on?

Marina: It’s a quarter to 12.

Garner: 45 minutes before….

Joe: We’ve been talking for 45 minutes…

Garner: Oh I see…

Joe: We’re not going to make you talk for another 45 minutes don’t worry!

Garner: No, I just wondered whether you’d got some train in your mind that you wanted to catch…

Joe: As far as we’re concerned the underlying theme is change and transformation but what you want, it’s important that the farmers themselves bring forward the things that have been most significant for them. So in that sense, I mean, what I could do, I could stop the camera for a little while and we could just have a little think about, if there’s anything that you want to talk about, I mean we’ve talked about a lot already but, you know if there’s, just give you a few moments to have a think and maybe we can just continue after we’ve had a coffee.

Garner: Ok, yes,

[Interview stopped for coffee]

Garner: Yes I’ll talk a bit about where I came from in farming but, when I actually got to the point of taking on a farm, I thought there were 3 types of farmer: there was the family farm, inherited, perhaps over several generations; there was the rich man, or the retired army officer who’s taken up farming, they tended to have pedigree herds of this, that and the other; and then there was the third type was like me, who wanted to go into farming but had had to study and gain practical experience on their own, and come in, something, some people I thought, thought of us as interlopers, farming was their concern. Others were extremely helpful. Some farmers would say ’oh come and have a look at my farm’ and they’d say ’yes there are ways of doing it, although you need so much capital’ others would say ’oh, you need £20,000 to start farming, you haven’t got a chance’. That gives you an idea of the period!

Joe: Shall we just stop it for a little while, if you want to….

Garner: No, it’s alright, I was sort of getting, I thought I’ll forget to say about that…

Garner: Where I came from, now Marina came from the town side, and my family, my father came from the country, his father was a saddler, when horses were big on farms, and he had 2 brothers. Yes, so my father had 2 brothers, 1 was a head teacher, the young one was head of Shell research, he was a scientist. But my father started working at East Malling Research Station. Really, propagating rootstocks until the director said ’Would you like to change to research?’ which he did, and he became a research biologist, and incidentally wrote The Grafters Handbook. But we were connected with the country but not farming, and my older sister, at the age of 5, said she would be a nurse, and she was a nurse. I, at the same age, said I would be a farmer, which eventually happened. And a younger brother became an advisor for the Ministry of Agriculture Advisory Service, and the one younger than him became a shipbroker. So that’s, I had to start really from scratch, and as a child I just wanted to be a farmer, and I loved the farming, particularly the agricultural farming, going on around, although I lived in an area where there was a lot of fruit. Early memories are, at the age of I suppose about 5, gleaning in the corn field next door.


Garner: We all kept hens, and after the reaper and binder had been in, and left bits of straw in the field, we were allowed to go out a scrape these up for the hens. And I was out there one evening and it was perfectly silent, but there were all these people scratching away at the ground, saving this straw, it was moonlight, and they carried on working, no one spoke and an owl hooted, and I thought ’that’s the life’ and, through any opportunity, I would get out on this farmland. And a lady in the village had a little smallholding where there were goats, and a couple of pigs, funnily enough, poultry, and when I was in my early teens I would go round on Saturday mornings and help with the goats, which were dairy goats, and clean them out, take the goats kids for a walk in the wood, which is great fun because they behave rather like puppy dogs, except they don’t bite. And every opportunity like that. Later on I got the chance to go and work for free on other farms. One had a very good dairy of about 50 cows, which was a large dairy in those days, and I’d mix up calf food. He had the idea, he was a good chap, a friend of my fathers, and he wanted to make sure that boys knew what farming entailed so, I’d go over and have a little bit of work in the dairy, mix some calf food, and then he’d send me off with Tom to the quarry because they were making up a road, and we had to dig out and load stone and bring that back to do the pot holing. So, of course, I never showed any sign that I disapproved or found it hard work, and it was all experience. Then of course we had to do 2 years national service, which was a big gap but, even in Germany, I didn’t work on farms, but there were some such isolated places in Germany that I could quite enjoy the farming going on around. I had a little radio detachment and we were sent out into the wiles (sp), I saw ploughing being done with oxen, instead of a horse and cart going through the village there might be a dairy cow, still in milk pulling a cart through the village. All these sorts of things that woud never be allowed nowadays, but it was quite a picture of old agriculture. And then I had a place at Cambridge to read agriculture for a degree, which was right up my street, and we had a mixture of lecturers. Some of them were elderly men who’d come through the world wars. Nicholson who’d been shot up badly in the first world war was still lecturing on soils. Mansfield directed the college farm, we only spent about 2 hours a week on the college farm, mainly going round talking about it, not working on it. Mansfield started his first lecture to us, ’Farming is a combination of Art, Science and Business’ and we also had young men, this was in 1960, 1958 sorry, when computers were being used for linear programming and so on, so we had the 2 extremes, the knowledge that had been built up over the years and the new wiz kids coming in with their managerial expertise. So it was quite a valuable 3 years and it was the way really I felt confident enough to go into farming. There was the 1 year on dairy farm, 2 and half years on the pedigree pigs, and then launching out at Little Stone Stile farm here.

Baely: Where did you grow up, sorry, was it round here?

Garner: Well I grew up in East Malling in Kent. My father moved there because there was a job at the research station. He’d been told to have an open-air life because he had a peculiar shaped chest, and there was nothing wrong with it because he was in the cross country team for Reading University, but it suited him because he couldn’t bear to work indoors. And he went there to work on propagation of root stocks, which at that time were being sent all round the world. They’d be developed by the research station and, for the good of mankind, were exported all over the place. Then he was asked to research, and my mother was a secretary at the research station, and they met and married in 1933 and built a house, where we were all brought up in East Malling. And the house was only sold in 2010. So it was country, much more so then, than now. And I think it was a very spread out village, I think there were 500 houses but, when I was still at home, the village doubled in size because they built another 500 in what had been a parkland, so it’s very different now. And then we used to ride our little bikes in the road outside. That’s where I learnt to ride a bike, use it for our soapbox carts. In the winter of 1947 when it snowed, I think until March, I haven’t the dates clearly but I know that it snowed, and the snow packed so hard that we were tobogganing in our shirtsleeves, on frozen ground, and we weren’t cold cause the snow wouldn’t melt. So that road now is a through road and they’ve had, what do you call the speed measurement devices up? And in the 30 mile an hour limit part, you alright? Where there’s a 30 mile an hour limit cars have been found doing 60, and where it changed to the 40 mile an hour limit, one car was doing 80, so it’s not safe to learn to ride a bike on anymore. Things have changed that way. But we lived there and caught buses into secondary school. That’s really what it was like.

Marina: You had aunts and uncles who were farmers didn’t you?

Garner: Great uncles, in Cambridgeshire. Yeah, yes that was the sort of farming in my imagination I wanted to do, cereals but also livestock, cause I thought the farm was pretty dead without animals of some sort around.

Marina: And your grandfather was a saddler wasn’t he?

Garner: Yes, he made those candlesticks. Yes, that was important. There were a lot of craftsman until my father’s brothers, one went into teaching and the other went into scientific research, with chemical engineering, and was in the team that invented Alcathene. But, yes


Joe: One thing that we’ve noticed, which we mentioned a little bit when we were having coffee earlier, is that we’ve met a lot of farmers who have made their, you know, made their millions, you know, potentially back in financial markets, or in the oil industry, and have, you know, made so much money they’’ve thought they’ll move out to Kent, buy themselves some acreage. This has been one of the, sort of, defining themes to have come out of this research.

Marina: Yes, how interesting! That although they were making a lot of money, they didn’t really like the lifestyle and wanted to be somewhere in the countryside, more open.

Garner: Do you think they particularly chose Kent?

Marina: Well that’s where the research has been.

Joe: Yeah, I’m sure the same applies to other counties, but I suppose with it’s proximity to London

Marina: Are they still working in London?

Joe: No, no, they just run the farm now, but they’ve got no farming background, often they employ a farm manager to help them out with all the technicalities.

Marina: What were you going to say Baely?

Baely: I was just going to say I think a lot of them still have property in London so, I think that’s possibly why Kent maybe has more of these lifestyle farmers, because it’s so close to London and, I mean, really, you have the best of both worlds because you have London, sort of, less than an hour away, but then you also have beautiful countryside and the coast, you know, what better place to, kind of, if you’re thinking of somewhere to settle down and see out your retirement, having made a lot of money.

Marina: And when they build new houses, they’re building a lot near the station and the commute to London is one of the selling points, as well as you say, being in the countryside. It’s easy to get to London. Have a biscuit [Thank you] No? [Garner: No thank you my crunching will be recorded on the… probably]

Garner: Are you trying to look into a crystal ball, is that some idea?

Joe: So, what about your children, are they interested in farming, what’s the future hold?

Garner: Well of course as children it’s a lovely place to grow up, and we’re very careful with them, but they had the freedom, space, so when the eldest went to Newcastle for a Fine Arts degree she missed the trees, and we gave her a camera for her birthday, and the first 36 exposures were all of trees weren’t they? So yes, she…

Joe: Talking of cameras I have to change the battery…

[Interrupted to change camera battery]

Joe: Sorry, you were saying about your children

Garner: Yes, Mary always drew a lot and she was very, quite talented in that way, and although she could really have done anything, she chose to do art and went to Newcastle for 3 years and gained a Fine Arts degree, and she mixed it with music. She played the guitar, she had a few lessons and then just practice, practice, practiced, gave up the piano to play the guitar more and, after her Fine Arts degree, she worked for a record shop, and various other aspects of music, and cycled, she worked in a cycle shop, she used to do time trials on her bike. She never wanted to have a single job, she thought it would be boring, so she wanted to have lots of jobs, which she’s done. But basically she’s now a rock musician and, during the summer when there’s not so much, not so many bookings, she works at so many different jobs, she’s taught guitar and art and maths in Nottingham prison, so she’s got experience working with those sort of people, and she’s now doing a site security job where they manage the security at race meetings and pop concerts and so on. I think that’s the latest. But, certainly she’s had a varied, interesting career in all sorts of work.

Joe: But farming has never, never looked like she was going…

Garner: Never looked like farming except when she was about, I suppose about 8 or 9, she said she would go in the army to begin with and then go into large scale arable farming, but I’m glad to say that didn’’t last too long. Then our second daughter, again an artist, she took a graphic design degree and moved around various graphic design studios, firms, I don’t know what you call them, quite successfully, then she went freelance and she designed decor for houses. She lives, what looks like a perfect existence because everything is perfect, her dress, everything in the house, it’s a graphic designers’ house and they have a little boy.

Joe: What does this mean for the future of this farm?

Garner: It means that, the way the economy has gone, that they won’t be in farming but they will be very well off when were gone because of the inflation of farm land. Our youngest daughter did do a biological science degree, so they weren’’t all artists, although she can draw as well, and she worked in biological sciences for a while and she’s gone, now gone freelance picture framing, and helping people with gardens and so on. Yes?

Marina: No, I think they saw how hard we worked and realised that they had to go without things compared with their friends and they didn’t want that sort of life. Although they liked the countryside, they could see that you work very hard for very little return so I think, I suppose they became more, what’s the word? I couldn’t think of the word… where you’re more interested in money

Joe: materialistic?

Marina: Materialistic! In way, in a way, although they all loved the countryside but you know, they didn’t have things that their friends had did they? We would say ’sorry, can’t afford it’ But they had a lot of freedom on the farm, riding their bikes, and going up into the woods.

Garner: And they now how to light a fire and mend a machine and that sort of thing don’t they?

Marina: Yes, they’re all very practical. So something must have rubbed off.

Joe: And you’re saying it’s most likely that eventually this farm will be sold and it will be…

Garner: We don’t know

Marina: it’s up to them.

Garner: We were quite old before we had any grandchildren, so our grandchild, we have 2 grandsons, one’s 10 the other’s 6, so that’ll be a long time before they’’re adults and,the way I look at it is, if this house is still in the family it will be a place to live but not to try and earn a living from the farm. I think a lot of small farms have a farmer with other employment, or the wife has a high paid job possibly, and that’s what allows them to stay on, in one sense farmers, although it’s a part time thing really.

Marina: Cause I worked for 20 years round the corner in the garden nursery, which was quite convenient. Have you said all this?

Garner: No I haven’t. That’s…When did you start? Was it about 1970ish?

Marina: [inaudible name] would have been about 10 [

Garner: Oh so it was 1980ish…

Marina: and she’s 40…Yeah I think she was about 10 when I did the strawberry picking, which I was hopeless at. And then I did more propagating plants for gardens and potting up shrubs and things like that.

Garner: Pricking out plants was a job. These tiny plants. Yes, Marina pricked out trays and trays of tiny plants, and that really started because the price dropped out of pigs. Yes, imports were governed by the strength of the pound, or gluts in Europe, and it had a devastating effect on the pig price here. I remember, soon after we went into the, what was then called the common market, the pig price went very low, and the then minister of Agriculture, in a labour government, started paying 10 shillings a pig, or rather 50 pence a pig subsidy, and he was taken to the judicial part of the common market, and the whole government was going to be fined or penalised in some way if he didn’t stop, and he carried on, bless him, for quite a while before it ended. But 50 pence a pig was enough to make a difference to the pig market believe it or not. But that was one of the things that changed when we joined the EU. When I first started farming and we were selling pigs there was what was called the February price review and, each year, the government decided on what would be a base price for many products, cereals, livestock, and this was published and, if the price in the market fell below that, it was made up with a subsidy. If it didn’t fall below it, no subsidy had to be paid. And I thought that worked very well. We did at times get ridiculously small subsidies. Perhaps a load of pigs would result in a subsidy cheque of £3 but it was the principal, and it kept people from going out of business, so that when the food was needed later on, they were still producing it. I only have vague ideas what might happen in the future to farming but, what I see is that as the profit per unit, per pig, per crate of vegetables, per tonne of wheat, as the profit reduces, farms have got to expand to make a living from farming, and there’s so much amalgamation goes on. Many of the small farms have gone in with the bigger farms, farms next door have joined, and the capital required to mechanise large acreage is so enormous, I can’’t see new entrants having a chance, unless they can find some niche, like producing a particular plant that hasn’t been grown in this country. And the trouble is there that, although it gives them a start, and they make money for a few years, the larger organisations will look around and realise that they can make more money if they take over producing that product and do it on a large scale, which results in the exit of that small farm. On the pig side, which is the only side I know a lot about, some small farms have managed to carry on by cutting out middle men and selling direct to the consumer, either at farmers markets or other orders, and they often, very soon, get a name for the quality of the product, and it means they need someone in the family to go on a butchering course, and it’s jolly hard work. Not only are you looking after the stock, but they might be, as I hear, butchering joints until 2 o’clock in the morning to fulfill the orders. So it’s the sort of thing you can do for a given number of years but, long term future, I’m not sure about. Any ideas? What haven’t we spoken about?

Marina: No, I don’t think so, we’ve covered most things.

Joe: I like to think that in 50, 100 years, however long, people will, I mean all this footage will be archived in such a way that it can be accessed in that sort of time period. I think it will be very interesting, I like to imagine somebody sitting there in 100 years time, watching this film, maybe as part of another research project at the University of Kent, they know what the future brings and they’ll be thinking ’Cor, they didn’t see that one coming did they?’

Marina: Might be eating pills by then.

Garner: Will China be governing the country and will there be a return or a change to the large farms like we’ve seen in Russia? Russia farms, Russian farms under communism, where the government tried to manage enormous farms, people were allowed, sorry?

Joe: Big collective farms

Garner: The collective farms, yes, the word escaped me – the collective farms, where people were told how to farm. At the same time, citizens were allowed to have a few acres and grow vegetables for sale. What I heard, what I learnt somewhere, and I can believe this is true, is that all these little plots, which I think went up to about 30 acres, produced 30% of the food for Russians. I can see how it would happen because those little plots are where the vegetables, and the fruit, and the awkward to produce crops, which needed a lot of handwork, where they would be grown and, as many people know who have a garden or a little allotment, one can produce a tremendous amount of food from a little plot and leave the rolling acres, many of which had beautiful soils in Russia, leave them to the government to look after. Isn’t that saucy?


Joe: Anything you want to…

Marina: No I don’t think so

Garner: You’ll think of something after, after we’ve finished!

Marina: Probably. Yes, well perhaps that we educate our women, like our girls, and they, perhaps women don’t want to stay at home and be farmer’s wives. I don’t know. I mean I didn’t feel I was a super woman so I stayed here, but then I worked, I did tractor driving and things like that. I used to, when we collected the combine, the driver, the combine came out, I used to accompany the combine and try and stop traffic, and incur the wrath of the locals because they wouldn’t believe me that a large, wide load was coming. And off to the vet to get medicines and things like that.

Garner: You were quite busy, yes.

Marina: I was busy, I mean I couldn’t have gone back to teaching and been here.

Garner: Yes, you were a qualified infants teacher, teaching infants weren’t you?

Marina: Yes, but I couldn’t see that I could do both, although it would have been quite remunerative wouldn’t it?

Garner: You helped move pigs, bearing in mind we kept pigs out in paddocks, and pigs being pigs, to move 30 pigs, 29 are easy, there’s always 1.

Marina: Yes, we were quite fit in those days weren’t we, and they escaped sometimes and, once they escaped, the people down the road had a new water pipe layed through our land and some pig got out and, this was a bit like a race track, and through the corn, and they came out at the top of the road, about 5 o’clock in the afternoon on a weekday, and somebody alerted us to this fact, and I was chasing pigs down the road with the garden, with the kitchen mop, and I suddenly remembered the garden gate, we’ve got a side gate, much to the amusement of these drivers, sprinted in, shut the gate. But they were very cooperative, they went slowly, I think they just enjoyed the spectacle…Right well….

Joe: Shall I pause it there then? Thank you ever so much!

Garner: It’s fun, isn’t it?!

Marina: You’ve got a good memory.

Garner: Yeah, and you see in the photograph, yes when you came in I showed you those, 2 aerial photographs.


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John Garner Interview Archive – Download .pdf version

Last updated 19 March 2021