In 1915 when I was 12 my Mum and Dad applied for an exemption from school for me but we did not hear from the Education Board for over six months. When I was thirteen and a half I worked with Dad for about six months because we had pigs and another two acres of land on which we built a dozen pigsties.
Dad used to collect swill from about twenty houses in the village and they agreed to have a joint of pork for Christmas instead of being paid for it. Dad used to kill two pigs for this purpose. He used to feed them up so as to make good joints.
During wartime, he was only allowed to kill one pig for the family but someone had to split on him. So Dad went to see them (Ministry of Agriculture) and told them about all the children who had to have a joint. They told him that owing to his large family they would allow him two pigs but on no account must he kill more otherwise the Ministry would confiscate them. And, he must inform them every time they were being killed so that the Ministry could send an inspector to see that it was done properly. Who should come but a mate of Dad's so everything was O.K. and whoever came along and started asking questions would be shown the piece of paper from his pocket.
One chap at Wick named Roland Bond, who was a builder at the time, told the inspector that if Stannett could kill two so could he. He did and was fined £100. We believe that he was the one who reported Dad in the first place. Anyway, we had two large policemen up at the allotment.
|Image courtesy of
Wiltshire Country Fayre
We had a big tin bath that hung on the wall. When the pigs were killed I would fetch them in a wheelbarrow and lay them in the bath one at a time. Then we would pour boiling water over them and used tin lids to scrape the hair off. It was surprising how easily it came off.
The chitterlings were done separately and I was the one who had to do them with a cane. After a thorough wash, they were threaded on to the cane, turned inside out and washed again. Mum always had one head to make brawn - it was beautiful stuff I am sorry that we can't get any like it today.
Eventually, Dad had forty-two sows and two boars but because he was the only one paying rent he had to sell up because it was crown land. So I had to get a job.
This is an extract from the autobiography written by Oliver James Stannett (1903 - 1988) and republished here with the kind permission of his relatives who still live in Eton Wick. The collection of Oliver Stannett's articles can be found by clicking on this link.