Island Life Magazine Ltd October/November 2011 - Page 69

COUNTRY LIFE Fred's parents He explained: “Shorthorn cattle are an old-fashioned English breed. They started off in the18th century, but went out of fashion in the 1950s when Friesians became popular. But the shorthorns are a good dual purpose animal and we have done very well with them. I gave up dairy farming in 1984 to go to beef. Shorthorn cattle can be dairy or beef, and I have been beef ever since. I bought half a dozen to start, and built the herd up from there.” In between talking cattle Fred told me how he once lost his mother on a shopping trip to Newport. He said: “She went to one shop, I went to another, and we agreed to meet back at the car. When I got back she was nowhere to be seen and I searched an hour for her. Eventually I went back to the car park and found her sitting in another car – same colour and make as mine, but not mine!” Then there was the time he was driving a lorry-load of calves back to his farm, but didn’t fasten the side door securely. Every time he went around a corner the door would open and a calf would jump out. He said: “Eventually someone waved me down and told me what was happening, so I turned round to find a calf sitting on the roadside every couple of hundred yards. Some were a bit dazed, but no serious injuries, and I managed to get them all back in the lorry to take them home.” Fred’s health scare came six years ago when he found it difficult even to walk. He was told he had angina, and although nothing serious was found, he was informed by a specialist ‘either drop down dead or stop work’. He didn’t stop, but did cut back somewhat, bringing in nephew Colin and his son Dan to help run the farm, which they still do. Meanwhile, he also has five caravans and a couple more houses, which he lets out to homeless people. He laughed: “I do it because I am stupid – I told you so. But it is another way of earning money. In life you have to survive and it costs you money to do that.” However, he did have a problem with one caravan tenant. The tenant turned up at Fred’s house in the early hours covered in soot, and explained he was cold in the night so decided to light a fire – on the caravan floor. The caravan exploded, but he escaped! Despite one or two traumas, Fred bought three fishing lakes near Sandown a few years ago. He insists: “I still believe people have never had it so good. When I was a kid we had one present at Christmas, but these days parents spend hundreds of pounds buying computers and whatever. And then you hear about businessmen having £1million bonuses. “I had my first cigarette in 1957, and the packet cost me 1s 9d. I thought if I saved that money for 30 years I could own a nice house, and I’ve never smoked since.” Not so much the village idiot he likes to make out then! Fred and his wife Lesley in the late 1960s 69