Category Archives: Scrapbook

A cheeky selfie with Peter Linebaugh

We had the privilege of sharing a stage today with a hero of ours, the historian Peter Linebaugh… Here is a cheeky selfie of us in front of the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest.

Peter was a student of E.P. Thompson’s in the 70s and has written some wonderful books including ‘The Many Headed Hydra’ which I hope many of your will have read or know about…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Linebaugh

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2001/jan/27/historybooks

Marking the 800th anniversary of the 1217 Charter Of The Forest in Sherwood Forest with a sing-a-long

Robin and Roo will be leading a sing-a-long this Sunday by The Major Oak in Sherwood Forest to mark the 800th anniversary of the 1217 Charter Of The Forest and linking this to land rights, fracking and universal basic income in our present day.

https://www.facebook.com/events/530204757394442/

What’s the Charter Of The Forest, I hear you say… see hear for more information… https://thenewputneydebates.com/

Newton Rebels of 1607 in Northamptonshire

Nick Hayes just put me on to this amazing page about the Newton Rebels of 1607 in Northamptonshire which was part of the Midlands Revolt concerning enclosure. Have a look at the photos from their 400th anniversary in 2007

http://www.newtonrebels.org.uk/rebels/history.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midland_Revolt

 

The Ballad Of The Green Backyard

The Green Backyard in Peterborough have just signed a 12 year lease, winning an amazing victory saving land from some dubious business people and a council which has some amazing people in it …and others with more questionable motives. Read about it in the Peterborough Telegraph:

http://www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk/news/environment/we-are-naturally-delighted-future-secured-for-peterborough-s-the-green-backyard-after-signing-new-12-year-lease-1-8181733

The Ballad of the Green Backyard

In twenty zero eight, two enterprising souls
Set to work to realise their very worthy goals
They met allies and met baddies, now listen as i tell
A tale of Peterborough’s finest and some pond scum straight from hell

There’s pair of Antonelli’s, both grafters through and through
Give them tools and wellies… there is nothing they can’t do
I sure want them on my team when we build the barricades
As we fight the fight for all that’s right with rascals and comrades

Three cheers for the green backyard, ’tis a glorious hour for people power

On two acres of good land that never knew concrete
They set to work creating a paradise complete with
Veg and flowers and people, and ponds and compost loos
But a few in power (with faces sour) had some other views

In twenty and eleven, the council battle began
Machen and Kneally, they worked an evil plan
And we mustn’t forgot Cereste, they don’t get more corrupt
Someone should him soon arrestie, cos he’s such an evil fuck ….refrain

But in our growers’ corner we’ve Gillian Beasly who was
A very early ally and the council chief exec too!
And props to Jay and Allan, more people joined the team
Now the scene is set, the players met, all captured in one tune

We mustn’t forget ‘Metal’, who invite arty sorts
And let them loose around here, to sow creative thoughts
Like ‘if this were to be lost’ and ‘this land is our land’
And ‘people before profit when when we all together stand’ ….refrain

‘For sale’ the sign was raised, this was a big mistake
Gave our growers marching orders, even set a date
But the town and country planning act, a couple of VIPs
Plus a tonne of people power brought the blighters to their knees

so to conclude my story, there’s still much work to do
but this is quite a victory, so credit where its due
and i hope our children’s children can be nurtured by this land
and people far from peterborah will know of this fine stand ….refrain

California State University, Fresno – Traditional Ballad index

Someone shared this on social media yesterday and I just want to bookmark it here quickly as it looks like a gold mine.

http://fresnostate.edu/folklore/BalladIndexArticles.html

I’m not sure yet how relevant it is to the current show but if we end up working with our Scottish and Irish friends, this looks like a good place to start exploring due to the way it is indexed.

The parent part of the site also has lots of interesting stuff on it. What I love about this so much is that it is still in super old HTML style which means it is so much easier to navigate and search than all this fancy, flashing, fancy pants and usually pointless web design which is currently the fashion!

http://fresnostate.edu/folklore/

 

Obituary of trade unionist and labour rights activist Don Pollard

I missed this last month but never to late to learn about the amazing work of trade unionist and labour rights Don Pollard who died in August. #legend

‘The trade unionist and labour rights activist Don Pollard, who has died aged 80, was one of the driving forces behind the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004, legislation brought in by the British government to curb the exploitation of agricultural and food workers in the UK.

It took the Morecambe Bay tragedy to bring his and fellow union organisers’ efforts to fruition. In 2004, 23 workers from China drowned after their gangmasters sent them cockle-picking in lethal tides. Some of the victims had been employed previously on farms in East Anglia, where Pollard had uncovered appalling conditions. His work had laid the ground for a coalition of unions, business, and MPs to push through the Labour MP Jim Sheridan’s private member’s bill introducing licensing to the gangmaster sector.’

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/aug/22/don-pollard-obituary

Who Owns England blog – one year on

Guy Shrubsole is doing some excellent work here digging into data to find out who owns our land – https://whoownsengland.org/2017/09/12/who-owns-england-one-year-on-what-we-now-know/

A history of the CLA (The Country Landowners Association)

By Eamon Curry from Derby, England – Public Footpath looking towards Derby Road, Duffield, Derbyshire Uploaded by – tSR – Nth Man, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10362068

The CLA (the Country Land and Business Association previously the Country Landowners Association) has recently taken its history section off of its website. I think this is a shame as it makes for interesting reading. Luckily the internet archives much more than people realise, so without comment, here it is for your reading pleasure:

(taken from https://web.archive.org/web/20150403002255/http://www.cla.org.uk:80/about-cla/history-cla)

Charles Clover looks at the origins of the CLA –

In the Beginning

To open the huge, leather-bound volumes, smelling faintly of mildew, that contain the glossy monochrome pages of Country Life magazine from 1907, the year the body that was to become the CLA was founded, is to glimpse a vanished world.

I am in my forties, yet my father was an Edwardian, born in 1903. I shot with him once before he died, so the gents in tweeds demonstrating how to shoot birds on the left without moving the feet (or taking the pipe out of the mouth) do not seem so very far distant.

Country Life offers an editorial about “The cost of owning an estate”, a fascinating insight into the rural economy of the time. The owner of the estate used as an example gave employment to 74 men, excluding tenants. The total was made up as follows: house and stables, 26; garden, 20; keepers, 3; labourers, 22.

Such an estate might have been worth £250,000 to £500,000 at 1907 prices, its outgoings added up to £14,370 compared with a total income of £14,900. Then, as now, the ownership of land was not likely to attract capitalists who were not born into it as a way of life – unless for social reasons, or for sport.

The three decades leading up to the foundation of what became known as the Central Land Association (to distinguish it from county associations) were a hard, often profitless time for agriculture, caused by the global marketplace of the British Empire.
Home-produced wheat hit its lowest price for 150 years in 1894.

For the countryside the years before the First World War were a time of political and financial uncertainty. A number of rural interests felt the need to band together to make sure their views were represented, or saw the opportunity to exert more influence.

In 1907 came a pamphlet, The Land and the Social Problem, by Algernon Tumor, a high-ranking civil servant and former private secretary to Benjamin Disraeli. In it, he criticised British agriculture for failing to adapt to changing conditions and blamed politicians for their lack of foresight in their treatment of the industry. He advocated the co-operation of owners, tenants and workers in the common interest. His manifesto represented the conception of the CLA.

Copies of the pamphlet were circulated to general approval and a meeting was held on April 19th, 1907, in the junior Carlton Club. Those present were well-connected and had between them a wealth of political experience. It was chaired by Walter Long, a patrician Tory and former President of the Board of Agriculture under Lord Salisbury.
The minutes, in his handwriting, still exist in an exercise book in Reading’s Museum of English Rural Life.

Present beside Tumor were the fourth Earl of Onslow, the Earl of Harrowby and several MPs and landowners including Christopher Tumor, nephew of Algernon, a large Lincolnshire landowner and author of several books on agriculture. The meeting decided to appoint officers of what was initially proposed to be called the Landholders’ Central Association. From the beginning the association tended to be an organisation of owners and land agents – other interests having their own organisations. The National Farmers’ Union – developed from the Lincolnshire Farmers Union – was founded within a year of the CLA in 1908.

On the face of it, the survival of such an organisation after a century would appear to be surprising, given that the world that gave birth to is has vanished utterly. I suspect the clue to the CLA’s survival goes back to that original meeting and the thinking of its founders, who decided that they would engage with the interests of the day in a liberal, forward-thinking way, and not as a club of reactionaries. Lord Onslow, its first chairman, said of the Landowners’ Central Association: “It will endeavour to get rid of a rather stick-in-the-mud attitude on the part of some landowners…if we agree upon a constructive and progressive policy we shall have nothing to fear in the future.” Those still sound like wise words as the CLA enters its second century.

History of the CLA – The assault on land, 1907 – 2007

Looking back on a century of landowners trying to influence the political ideas of the day, it is remarkable how many policies – such as a tax on land – are cyclical, returning in various guises, often without success. Yet it is also worth celebrating the ultimate demise of a really bad idea from the years of the great ideological divide, land nationalisation.

As we now know, this idea caused poverty and squalor wherever it was tried, in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and even Kenneth Kaunda’s Zambia as late as 1970. It exercised the founders of the CLA for more than 30 years. We owe it to their good sense that it was not tried here.

The frontal attack on private property was seldom as fierce as after the Liberal landslide of 1906. The followers of the Liberal Chancellor, Lloyd George, openly favoured land nationalisation, following penal taxation. The first was seen off, but not the latter.

The CLA’s founders, including the Earl of Onslow, its chairman, and its president, Walter Long, wisely did not engage in partisan attacks. They successfully argued for Lloyd George to deduct maintenance when assessing estate income. Meanwhile two committees appointed by the Liberal Government reported in 1912 and 1913 in favour of state ownership of land, as a panacea for depression in agriculture and supposed insecurity of tenure.

These were worrying times for the CLA, as its annual report acknowledged in 1912:
“Probably at no time in the history of our country has there been a greater need for a strong non-party organisation to watch over and safeguard the interests of agriculture and to form and develop a sound and progressive land policy…By this means only will it be possible successfully to meet the attack directed against the landed interest by those who, without knowledge or experience of rural conditions and for reasons quite unconnected with the welfare of the industry, seek to make sweeping and revolutionary changes which, it is believed, would be disastrous, not only to agriculture, but to the country generally.”

To add insult to injury, CLA members felt its leaders had failed to state their case forcibly enough at a crucial time and membership fell.

The First World War killed off Lloyd George’s land taxation plans. It briefly strengthened the fortunes of agriculture and convinced the CLA that it needed to be more organised in representing landowners, rather than tenants and farm workers. Nevertheless, the renamed Central Landowners’ Association was confronted by Lloyd George’s National Government in 1920 with the decision to withdraw support for agriculture. There followed a decade and a half of agricultural recession.

The CLA had its victories, the greatest of which, the de-rating of agricultural land and buildings, came about in the 1928 budget. Its membership was bolstered by thousands of new owner occupiers – one of the many reasons why by the mid 1930s land nationalisation had faded into the background. But over the interwar years, and worse still in the years following the Second World War when many country houses were demolished, the break up estates through taxation and death duties had wide repercussions.

Employment in agriculture tumbled. Crafts died out. Estates became dependent on mass-produced materials from outside. Instead of nationalisation, we got a halfway house for bankrupt estates, the National Trust. Was this really desirable?

Over a century, you could argue that landowners have escaped the worst. The urban masses no longer want to appropriate their land. In part this is due to the pragmatic lobbying skills of the CLA, which have been respected by politicians of both sides. But the landowner has found himself bound increasingly, like Gulliver, by a multiplicity of gossamer threads which affect his freedom to use the land and even his leisure.
Conflicting Interests

Trespassers may legally be shot under a number of circumstances in the United States and South Africa. In Britain the rights of landowners have always been more tenuous. Over here, landowners have to think hard before uttering the words: “Get off my land!” if they dare do it at all.

You might wonder why public access to the countryside has been such a bone of contention over the last century, and so time-consuming for the CLA. The proximity of the industrial towns, with their burgeoning populations, to the high moors and fells was the flashpoint for change. Access to the hills became the focus of ideological protest after the First World War, culminating in the great mass trespass in 1932 on the Duke of Devonshire’s land at Kinder Scout, part of the Dark Peak, in which five ramblers were sent to jail for up to six months after an affray with gamekeepers.

The Hobhouse committee set up by the post-war Attlee government recommended in 1947 not only the creation of national parks, but also public access to the open countryside. This led to the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act of 1949, in which open country was defined as mountain, moor, heath, down, cliff and foreshore. The amazing thing is that a government otherwise hell-bent on nationalising promised to pay landowners compensation for giving up their right to exclude people from land not on a right of way.

The leaders of the CLA were probably too pressed dealing with the thicket of legislation produced by that Labour Government, which included the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act and the 1947 Agriculture Act, to do more than utter a quick sigh of relief. They did take the lead in urging the Government to write and publicise a Country Code, urging people to kept to footpaths, close gates, keep their dogs under control and put out picnic fires.

The Country Code had to be revised when the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 received royal assent. In one of his more brilliant coups-de-theatre Tony Blair appointed Ewen Cameron, now Lord Cameron, a former president of the CLA, to head the Countryside Agency charged with bringing in the new right. It is probably the case that the right came in more sensitively as a result – though the biggest rollbacks came from individual landowners on appeal.
The Greening of Farm Policy

It is a measure of the influence of the CLA that what it has called on governments for the past 25 years to do – replacing subsidies for food production with support for farming aimed at benefiting the wider rural environment and economy – has now come to be the “direction of travel” for the three main parties.

The story of the greening of farm policy is one of the little-known achievements of Britain’s landowning organisation, and it is a story worth telling, not only because it is, perhaps, unexpected, but because it is so seldom told. One reason is the CLA’s sensitive relationship with the National Farmers’ Union, set up in 1908.

The distinction between the two organisations was relatively obvious at the beginning. The CLA, by and large, represented landlords. It began at a disadvantage, and has had to trust to the persuasiveness of its brightest thinkers instead of megaphone diplomacy. The NFU, at the beginning, represented farmers, then overwhelmingly tenants.

Now over 60 percent of CLA members own 100 acres of less, and only 4 percent own 1,000 acres or more. Many farmers and landowners are members of both bodies. But the distinction between the CLA’s outlook and that of the NFU remains. As someone put it: “The NFU are the profit and loss account. The CLA are the balance sheet.”

In other words, the people who arguably worry most about protecting their assets, which also happen to be the country’s and the countryside’s, are those who would like to believe their offspring will be managing them in 50 years time. From the first, the CLA was far closer than the NFU to being an environmental organisation.

For its first 50 years the CLA was largely preoccupied with ownership issues: land nationalisation, land tax, death duties, forestry, the de-rating of agricultural tenancies and the removal of tithes. Then, as now, landowners derived much of their income from outside farming. Indeed, there is some evidence to show that in all but a few boom years of the last century, non-farming activities have produced more income.

The relationship to farming changed, however, in 1947, when landowners were given statutory recognition and new duties as partners in the drive for greater home food production under the Labour government’s Agriculture Act. The priority was growing cheap food for a starving and bankrupt Europe. There began the post-war extension of the dig-for-victory era, which lasted 30 years.

These years saw great changes. Hedges were pulled out, wetlands drained, watercourses dredged and canalised and millions of acres of moorland and permanent pasture were “improved” by farmers with grants from the Ministry of Agriculture, sometimes to the rueful regret of landlords.

The crucial change came in 1973 with UK entry into the Common Market. In Brussels, there was a growing sense that the EU budget was limited. Its finance ministers looked for an excuse to deal with excessive spending of agriculture and the resultant butter and grain mountains and wine, milk and olive oil lakes.

Around the early 1980s the CLA became, by reason of its culture, the purveyor of solutions to a political class that had decided things could not go on as they were. A recurrent theme among progressive landowners and leaders of the CLA was the feeling that: “I think I’m damn good at what I do. If my neighbour farms very badly, but you continue subsidising him to farm in that way, you will eventually put me out of business.” Then as now, the CLA’s predisposition was towards the classical Anglo-American case for free enterprise and free trade.

In the late 1980s the CLA published a paper which argued that public subsidy purely for production should be switched to a menu of environmental services. At the time I wondered how realistic they were, and whether anyone was listening.

It turns out they were pushing at an open door in MAFF. Reform started in the second half of the 1980s with the Alure (Agriculture, Land Use and the Rural Environment/Economy) package, the abolition of production grants, the creation of environmentally sensitive areas, the Farm Woodland Scheme and the subtle introduction of the “duty clause” in the 1986 Agriculture Act, which meant the ministers had for the first time to have regard to the wider rural economy, the enjoyment of the countryside by the people, and the rural environment. The support of the CLA gave the ministers of the time confidence to push the measures through.

When you look back to the late 1980s today, agricultural reform seems to have moved at a glacial pace. Environmental groups would argue that vastly more money needs to be moved from Pillar I, production support, to Pillar II, environment and rural development. But the developed world has accepted the argument that there should be free trade in agricultural goods and protection of the environment. And all who love the countryside can thank the CLA for its part in winning that argument.

This is an edited version of a series of articles written by Charles Clover to mark the centenary of the CLA.

Charles Clover is an environmental journalist, author, and columnist for The Sunday Times.
Planning and Conservation – the state weighs in

A J P Taylor wrote that before 1914 a law-abiding Englishman had little contact with the state. He could travel without a passport, own a weapon and, on his own land, shoot almost anything he liked and build what he wished.

This is the world into which the CLA was born in 1907. That the world has changed so much since is testament not only to the tightening grip of the state, but also to the growth of an increasingly wealthy middle class. The latter competed for the land previously under the control of aristocratic landowners, and had the time and resources to develop an interest in planning, animal welfare and nature conservation.

A pre-1914 landowner might find Parliament telling him he must sell land. That came with the increasing role of the state in providing public infrastructure. But by and large it did not tell him how to build on land he owned. That came with the post-war Attlee government and the Town and Country Planning Act 1947, the birth of the modern planning system.

The report of Lord Justice Scott’s committee, produced in 1942, had recommended that all new building should be in existing settlements unless there was some overwhelming reason why it should be in open countryside. Another of Scott’s recommendations was that fertile land should be retained in agricultural use. This, a novel idea at the time, was emphasised in the CLA’s evidence.

In case the 20th century looks like a story of constant encroachment of private rights by the state, it is worth celebrating one high water mark, Crichel Down. Crichel Down, near Wimborne in Dorset, was 300 acres of land owned by Mary Anna Marten. The land had been compulsorily purchased in 1937 as a bombing range for the Air Ministry. When it was no longer needed after the war, it was not offered back to the family, as it should have been by policy agreed by the Government at the time at the instigation of the CLA, but was passed to the Commissioner of Crown Lands, who found a new tenant.

Eventually, after local feeling had been whipped up, the press enlisted, and political connections utilised, Parliament came to realise that a major injustice had been perpetrated. The Conservative Minister of Agriculture, Sir Thomas Dugdale, was forced to order a public inquiry. The Martens got their land back.

Monsanto’s disregard for human life and our planet

Another succinct and damning article about Monsanto’s disregard for human life and our planet – examples like this show why we must fight tooth and nail to prevent them from taking over our food system…

Bill Sherman, the assistant attorney general for the US state of Washington said: “At the same time that Monsanto was telling the public that that PCBs were safe, they were literally graphing their potential legal liability against the lost profits and public image boost that might accompany being responsible and honest. At the end of the day, Monsanto went for the profits instead of for public health and environmental safety.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/09/monsanto-continued-selling-pcbs-for-years-despite-knowing-health-risks-archives-reveal

Seventy Years in the Planning – Will Self BBC Radio 4 documentary

This BBC Radio 4 documentary is excellent – official blurb below – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08k15lh

Will Self walks the London green belt in search of the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act which optimistically tried to end the post-war British conflict between field and city. He retraces a countryside ramble he took with his father, the journalist, town planner and political scientist Peter Self – a leading exponent of the principles enshrined in the ’47 Act. Will argues that the public consensus to build a New Jerusalem has been squandered in the past seventy years, leading to the present day housing crisis. He goes back to first principles and argues that the offer made in 1947 by the Minister of Town and Country Planning, Lewis Silkin to build a better Britain is as relevant today as it was then. Will says that if it was an opportunity missed, then the fault doesn’t lie exclusively with the planning system, rather with our lack of desire to make the planning system work.

Let’s Lock Ourselves Here For A While

We had the pleasure of singing for Frack Free Lancashire and Reclaim The Power on Friday. During the show, Robin had an excuse to teach the audience a song he wrote for Newham Woodcraft Folk group last year called ‘Let’s Lock Ourselves Here For A While‘. Here are the lyrics and a recording so anyone who wants to learn it can:

 

D G
I’ve a hundred old bike locks and they won’t undo
A D
Any idea who I could give them to?
D G
It’s a nice sunny day in the countryside
A D
Lets lock ourselves here for a while

So sorry Mr Big Truck what is that you say
Something quite cross about us being in your way
The birds are enjoying the day from the trees
Lets lock ourselves here for a while

No we ain’t going nowhere, let’s climb up the trees
Someone must stick up for the birds and the bees
The poor have no lawyers, the trees have no rights
Lets lock ourselves here for a while

Mr blue badge and truncheon is also upset
Doesn’t seem that grace has quite got to him yet
Filmed by a smart phone as he beats up Dave
who locked himself here for a while

They arrested our Caroline it made the lead news
One day the greens will out number the blues
Well in the meantime we’ll do what we must
Lets lock ourselves here for a while

Chorus

Mr suit and tie construction has a seat in the Lords
Our tattered democracy just filed for divorce
One day the people will speak out as one
until then we’ll be locked here a while

Slavery and the foundations of modern day economics

The evolution of capitalism in England and resulting land grabs both here and abroad can be arguably simplified to sheep, slavery and fossil fuels…

I found this (long read) article an excellent overview of the abominable role slavery took in the founding of modern day economics.

https://aeon.co/essays/why-the-original-laissez-faire-economists-loved-slavery

Petition of the Pigs in Kent

More info at a folk song a week blog – https://afolksongaweek.wordpress.com/2013/08/10/week-103-petition-of-the-pigs-in-kent/

Original text in 1809 magazine can be found here

Petition of the Pigs in Kent

Ye owners of woodlands, with all due submission,
We humbly beg leave to present our petition,
That you will be pleas’d to recall your decree,
Which tells us that acorns no longer are free.

In Sussex and Surrey and Middlesex too,
Pigs may ramble at large without such ado;
And why, then, in Kent should pretences be found,
To drive us like culprits and thieves to the pound,

Since we, and our fathers, and others before ‘em,
Have rang’d in your woods, with all proper decorum?
No poachers are we, for no game we annoy
No hares we entrap, and no pheasants decoy;

Contented are we, if an acorn we find,
Nor wish for a feast of a daintier kind.
Besides, we are told (and perhaps not mistaken)
That you and your friends love a slice of good bacon;

But if of good bacon you all love a slice,
If pigs are to starve, how can bacon be nice?
For these and for other wise reasons of state,
We again our petition most humbly repeat,

Ye owners of woodlands, with all due submission,
We humbly beg leave to present our petition,
That you will repeal this severest of laws,
So your woods shall resound to our grunting applause.

Duncan Bourne’s Land Corporation of Ireland song

Severine from The Greenhorns just sent me this ace song about the Land Corporation of Ireland by Duncan Bourne.

Bill Finney was an ancestor of Duncan’s. His son (William) was born in Ireland and for a long time he thought that the Finneys were of Irish decent. Given that Finney is also an Irish surname. However further research revealed a long standing Staffordshire branch of Finney.


The Land Corporation of Ireland arose out of the 1879 – 1882 Land War, which saw the rise of Irish Nationalism and gave us the word “boycott”. From the summer of 1879 the Land League carried out various activities aimed at preventing the forced eviction of tenants who had fallen into arrears due to recession. These activities ranged from ostracism (the boycott), protests at the sale of leases, riots and, although not officially sanctioned, assassinations. One organiser Michael Boyton advocated that land grabbers (people who took the land of evicted tenants) should be “given the pill” ie. shot. By 1882 the Land League had been suppressed and the Reform Bills of 1884 & 1885 gave voting rights to tenants as well as the promise of reduced rents, though these did not always materialise. The Land Corporation of Ireland was set up to work land that had fallen idle due to evictions but due to the Land War it was nigh on impossible to recruit from the local population and so “caretaker” farmers were recruited from England through letters sent to local parishes. Bill Finney was one such farmer.

Lyrics

I come from Wootton, Staffordshire Bill Finney is my name
And I sought employment where I could you name it, I was game
I started down the Holly Bush serving in that drovers inn
And through talking with those droving lads my travels did begin

Come all you eager labouring lads keen for some work to do
The Land Corporation of Ireland has just the job for you

I tried my luck in the Potteries towns but my efforts came to nought
So I travelled up to Middlewich and worked there with the salt
T’was there I saw a letter requesting men to farm
For the Land Corporation of Ireland and I thought, “well what’s the harm?”

Come all etc.

We’ll pay you ten to fifteen bob to work some idle land
Where used to live a family evicted out of hand
You’ll have a house and garden and a free allowance of fuel
But don’t expect a social life your reception may be cruel

Come all etc.

So I went to Tipperary away from England’s shore
And I learned about the hardship caused by the old Land War
I learned about the ‘Boycott’ and the giving of the ‘Pill’
And of the broken promises caused by the Reform Bill

Come all etc.

And so I am a caretaker on land of sorrows shame
Don’t blame me for being English sir there’s Irish in my name
My name it is Bill Finney come drink with me a while
The Land Corporation of Ireland are the ones you should revile

Come all etc.

Mr Men books as an example of propaganda and conditioning for kids

 

This article provides a nice example of how we are conditioned to think in a certain way from the youngest age! Greedy factory owner vs the workers and the king has to intervene…

http://www.thepoke.co.uk/2016/03/01/literary-criticism-mr-men-reviews-made-us-laugh-lot/

Excellent website on the Chartists with poems and songs

Wow – this website is amazing – http://gerald-massey.org.uk/

I found it when looking for the full words of ‘Our Summons’ by Ernest Jones which took me to here – http://gerald-massey.org.uk/jones/c_poems_2.htm – he wrote most of his poetry in his own blood whilst in prison. What to say. Lost for words.

A nice mention in the Guardian newspaper

Catherine Shoard came to see the show on Saturday and has given us a nice mention in her Guardian column:

“One downside of increased mass political activism is all the loudspeakers. There are few noises more grating than an elderly megaphone hectoring out some battle cry, chanted back by croaky crowds. On repeat, for hours, it can get a bit wearying.

Here’s where musicians ought to come in. The protests of the past were often soundtracked by song. Not just any old tunes, but brilliantly inventive ballads and broadsides, like some of those I heard last Friday at a folk history of land rights called Three Acres and a Cow. This included ditties such as Ewan MacColl’s The Manchester Rambler, dreamed up in 1932 to commemorate the Derbyshire mass trespass – and so fantastically catchy I’d somehow retained it from when I traipsed up Kinder Scout on a 60th anniversary walk in 1992.

Best of all, though, was an 1880s song the show takes its name from, whose chorus runs: “Don’t you wish you had it now, three acres and a cow / Oh you can make good cheese and butter when you get the cow”. To be so excited at the prospect of dairy products that you’re willing to forgo a rhyme is truly inspirational stuff.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/22/moonlight-film-critics-moral-high-ground

BBC Radio 4 farming programs on CAP and Westminster

There is a good series on BBC Radio 4 at the moment called ‘Against The Grain’. They are 15mins each and worth a listen.

Below are links to two of them i listened too and a few of my notes and comments

>>>>>>against the grain – farming westminster – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08bb9wk

new labour = defra – word agriculture removed from government department – upset a lot of farmers and people who lived in rural areas
90s – grain mountains and food lakes – BSE – foot and mouth – farming perceived as a problem – farmers go on a PR offensive
farming a more important sector for french politicians even though it is still relatively small 2-3% of population
UK agriculture is tiny = 0.7% GDP produced by farming even though 70% land is farmed

an EU perspective – problem with UK is voting system first past the post leads to very little coalition government so marginal votes and voices such as farmers cannot make a difference

>>>>>>against the grain – the CAP years – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08bb202

professor tim lang
1840s repealed corn laws fixing corn prices – decision made to import cheap food from the empire rather than support our own farmers = farming declined
WW1 shock can britain feed itself then 1920/30 recession again + WW2 – WTF
By 1947 never again – let’s support our farmers – subsidies = protecting farmers via productionist approach
over generously – horrific surpluses of food – export subsidies to get rid of the stuff
CAP bundle of contradictions – good vs bad
1960 70 80 bad for nature
since then = paying farmers to do some nice things whilst allowing them to be brutal

professor allan buckwell
CAP stop market intervention
change to pay farmers to provide things market wants but doesn’t pay for
CAP has kept people on the land longer – moderating or slowing rate of out flow from agricultural sector
to keep UK competing in the world commodity market you need scale no a few tens of acres

a tale of two halves
farmers given money for things they produce even if this is a disaster for nature
separating subsidies from production – environmental land management

CAP encouraged specialisation which brought problems around environmentalism and sustainability

CAP holds back the forces of consolidation and industrialisation

danish are farming mink – raised for fir – need high quality feed – dry warm nest

CAP to stabilise farmers income and prevent corporations taking over

small farmers are the lifeblood of the countryside

Leo Tolstoy short story – How much land does a man need?

How Much Land Does a Man Need?

I

An elder sister came to visit her younger sister in the country.
The elder was married to a tradesman in town, the younger to a
peasant in the village. As the sisters sat over their tea talking,
the elder began to boast of the advantages of town life: saying how
comfortably they lived there, how well they dressed, what fine
clothes her children wore, what good things they ate and drank, and
how she went to the theatre, promenades, and entertainments.

The younger sister was piqued, and in turn disparaged the life of a
tradesman, and stood up for that of a peasant.

“I would not change my way of life for yours,” said she. “We may
live roughly, but at least we are free from anxiety. You live in
better style than we do, but though you often earn more than you
need, you are very likely to lose all you have. You know the proverb,
‘Loss and gain are brothers twain.’ It often happens that people who
are wealthy one day are begging their bread the next. Our way is
safer. Though a peasant’s life is not a fat one, it is a long one.
We shall never grow rich, but we shall always have enough to eat.”

The elder sister said sneeringly:

“Enough? Yes, if you like to share with the pigs and the calves!
What do you know of elegance or manners! However much your good man
may slave, you will die as you are living-on a dung heap-and your
children the same.”

“Well, what of that?” replied the younger. “Of course our work is
rough and coarse. But, on the other hand, it is sure; and we need
not bow to any one. But you, in your towns, are surrounded by
temptations; today all may be right, but tomorrow the Evil One may
tempt your husband with cards, wine, or women, and all will go to
ruin. Don’t such things happen often enough?”

Pahom, the master of the house, was lying on the top of the oven,
and he listened to the women’s chatter.

“It is perfectly true,” thought he. “Busy as we are from childhood
tilling Mother Earth, we peasants have no time to let any nonsense
settle in our heads. Our only trouble is that we haven’t land
enough. If I had plenty of land, I shouldn’t fear the Devil himself!”

The women finished their tea, chatted a while about dress, and then
cleared away the tea-things and lay down to sleep.

But the Devil had been sitting behind the oven, and had heard all
that was said. He was pleased that the peasant’s wife had led her
husband into boasting, and that he had said that if he had plenty of
land he would not fear the Devil himself.

“All right,” thought the Devil. “We will have a tussle. I’ll give you
land enough; and by means of that land I will get you into my power.”

II

Close to the village there lived a lady, a small landowner, who had
an estate of about three hundred acres. She had always lived on
good terms with the peasants, until she engaged as her steward an
old soldier, who took to burdening the people with fines. However
careful Pahom tried to be, it happened again and again that now a
horse of his got among the lady’s oats, now a cow strayed into her
garden, now his calves found their way into her meadows-and he
always had to pay a fine.

Pahom paid, but grumbled, and, going home in a temper, was rough
with his family. All through that summer Pahom had much trouble
because of this steward; and he was even glad when winter came and
the cattle had to be stabled. Though he grudged the fodder when
they could no longer graze on the pasture-land, at least he was free
from anxiety about them.

In the winter the news got about that the lady was going to sell her
land, and that the keeper of the inn on the high road was bargaining
for it. When the peasants heard this they were very much alarmed.

“Well,” thought they, “if the innkeeper gets the land he will worry us
with fines worse than the lady’s steward. We all depend on that estate.”

So the peasants went on behalf of their Commune, and asked the lady
not to sell the land to the innkeeper; offering her a better price
for it themselves. The lady agreed to let them have it. Then the
peasants tried to arrange for the Commune to buy the whole estate,
so that it might be held by all in common. They met twice to
discuss it, but could not settle the matter; the Evil One sowed
discord among them, and they could not agree. So they decided to
buy the land individually, each according to his means; and the lady
agreed to this plan as she had to the other.

Presently Pahom heard that a neighbor of his was buying fifty acres,
and that the lady had consented to accept one half in cash and to
wait a year for the other half. Pahom felt envious.

“Look at that,” thought he, “the land is all being sold, and I shall
get none of it.” So he spoke to his wife.

“Other people are buying,” said he, “and we must also buy twenty
acres or so. Life is becoming impossible. That steward is simply
crushing us with his fines.”

So they put their heads together and considered how they could
manage to buy it. They had one hundred roubles laid by. They sold
a colt, and one half of their bees; hired out one of their sons as a
laborer, and took his wages in advance; borrowed the rest from a
brother-in-law, and so scraped together half the purchase money.

Having done this, Pahom chose out a farm of forty acres, some of it
wooded, and went to the lady to bargain for it. They came to an
agreement, and he shook hands with her upon it, and paid her a
deposit in advance. Then they went to town and signed the deeds; he
paying half the price down, and undertaking to pay the remainder
within two years.

So now Pahom had land of his own. He borrowed seed, and sowed it on
the land he had bought. The harvest was a good one, and within a
year he had managed to pay off his debts both to the lady and to his
brother-in-law. So he became a landowner, ploughing and sowing his
own land, making hay on his own land, cutting his own trees, and
feeding his cattle on his own pasture. When he went out to plough
his fields, or to look at his growing corn, or at his grass meadows,
his heart would fill with joy. The grass that grew and the flowers
that bloomed there, seemed to him unlike any that grew elsewhere.
Formerly, when he had passed by that land, it had appeared the same
as any other land, but now it seemed quite different.

III

So Pahom was well contented, and everything would have been right if
the neighboring peasants would only not have trespassed on his corn-
fields and meadows. He appealed to them most civilly, but they
still went on: now the Communal herdsmen would let the village cows
stray into his meadows; then horses from the night pasture would get
among his corn. Pahom turned them out again and again, and forgave
their owners, and for a long time he forbore from prosecuting any
one. But at last he lost patience and complained to the District
Court. He knew it was the peasants’ want of land, and no evil
intent on their part, that caused the trouble; but he thought:

“I cannot go on overlooking it, or they will destroy all I have.
They must be taught a lesson.”

So he had them up, gave them one lesson, and then another, and two
or three of the peasants were fined. After a time Pahom’s
neighbours began to bear him a grudge for this, and would now and
then let their cattle on his land on purpose. One peasant even got
into Pahom’s wood at night and cut down five young lime trees for
their bark. Pahom passing through the wood one day noticed
something white. He came nearer, and saw the stripped trunks lying
on the ground, and close by stood the stumps, where the tree had
been. Pahom was furious.

“If he had only cut one here and there it would have been bad enough,”
thought Pahom, “but the rascal has actually cut down a whole clump.
If I could only find out who did this, I would pay him out.”

He racked his brains as to who it could be. Finally he decided: “It
must be Simon-no one else could have done it.” Se he went to
Simon’s homestead to have a look around, but he found nothing, and
only had an angry scene. However’ he now felt more certain than
ever that Simon had done it, and he lodged a complaint. Simon was
summoned. The case was tried, and re-tried, and at the end of it
all Simon was acquitted, there being no evidence against him. Pahom
felt still more aggrieved, and let his anger loose upon the Elder
and the Judges.

“You let thieves grease your palms,” said he. “If you were honest
folk yourselves, you would not let a thief go free.”

So Pahom quarrelled with the Judges and with his neighbors. Threats
to burn his building began to be uttered. So though Pahom had more
land, his place in the Commune was much worse than before.

About this time a rumor got about that many people were moving to
new parts.

“There’s no need for me to leave my land,” thought Pahom. “But some
of the others might leave our village, and then there would be more
room for us. I would take over their land myself, and make my
estate a bit bigger. I could then live more at ease. As it is, I
am still too cramped to be comfortable.”

One day Pahom was sitting at home, when a peasant passing through
the village, happened to call in. He was allowed to stay the night,
and supper was given him. Pahom had a talk with this peasant and
asked him where he came from. The stranger answered that he came
from beyond the Volga, where he had been working. One word led to
another, and the man went on to say that many people were settling
in those parts. He told how some people from his village had
settled there. They had joined the Commune, and had had twenty-five
acres per man granted them. The land was so good, he said, that the
rye sown on it grew as high as a horse, and so thick that five cuts
of a sickle made a sheaf. One peasant, he said, had brought nothing
with him but his bare hands, and now he had six horses and two cows
of his own.

Pahom’s heart kindled with desire. He thought:

“Why should I suffer in this narrow hole, if one can live so well
elsewhere? I will sell my land and my homestead here, and with the
money I will start afresh over there and get everything new. In
this crowded place one is always having trouble. But I must first
go and find out all about it myself.”

Towards summer he got ready and started. He went down the Volga on
a steamer to Samara, then walked another three hundred miles on
foot, and at last reached the place. It was just as the stranger
had said. The peasants had plenty of land: every man had twenty-
five acres of Communal land given him for his use, and any one who
had money could buy, besides, at fifty-cents an acre as much good
freehold land as he wanted.

Having found out all he wished to know, Pahom returned home as
autumn came on, and began selling off his belongings. He sold his
land at a profit, sold his homestead and all his cattle, and
withdrew from membership of the Commune. He only waited till the
spring, and then started with his family for the new settlement.

IV

As soon as Pahom and his family arrived at their new abode, he
applied for admission into the Commune of a large village. He stood
treat to the Elders, and obtained the necessary documents. Five
shares of Communal land were given him for his own and his sons’
use: that is to say–125 acres (not altogether, but in different
fields) besides the use of the Communal pasture. Pahom put up the
buildings he needed, and bought cattle. Of the Communal land alone
he had three times as much as at his former home, and the land was
good corn-land. He was ten times better off than he had been. He
had plenty of arable land and pasturage, and could keep as many head
of cattle as he liked.

At first, in the bustle of building and settling down, Pahom was
pleased with it all, but when he got used to it he began to think
that even here he had not enough land. The first year, he sowed
wheat on his share of the Communal land, and had a good crop. He
wanted to go on sowing wheat, but had not enough Communal land for
the purpose, and what he had already used was not available; for in
those parts wheat is only sown on virgin soil or on fallow land. It
is sown for one or two years, and then the land lies fallow till it
is again overgrown with prairie grass. There were many who wanted
such land, and there was not enough for all; so that people
quarrelled about it. Those who were better off, wanted it for
growing wheat, and those who were poor, wanted it to let to dealers,
so that they might raise money to pay their taxes. Pahom wanted to
sow more wheat; so he rented land from a dealer for a year. He
sowed much wheat and had a fine crop, but the land was too far from
the village–the wheat had to be carted more than ten miles. After
a time Pahom noticed that some peasant-dealers were living on
separate farms, and were growing wealthy; and he thought:

“If I were to buy some freehold land, and have a homestead on it, it
would be a different thing, altogether. Then it would all be nice
and compact.”

The question of buying freehold land recurred to him again and again.

He went on in the same way for three years; renting land and sowing
wheat. The seasons turned out well and the crops were good, so that
he began to lay money by. He might have gone on living contentedly,
but he grew tired of having to rent other people’s land every year,
and having to scramble for it. Wherever there was good land to be
had, the peasants would rush for it and it was taken up at once, so
that unless you were sharp about it you got none. It happened in
the third year that he and a dealer together rented a piece of
pasture land from some peasants; and they had already ploughed it
up, when there was some dispute, and the peasants went to law about
it, and things fell out so that the labor was all lost.
“If it were my own land,” thought Pahom, “I should be independent,
and there would not be all this unpleasantness.”

So Pahom began looking out for land which he could buy; and he came
across a peasant who had bought thirteen hundred acres, but having
got into difficulties was willing to sell again cheap. Pahom
bargained and haggled with him, and at last they settled the price
at 1,500 roubles, part in cash and part to be paid later. They had
all but clinched the matter, when a passing dealer happened to stop
at Pahom’s one day to get a feed for his horse. He drank tea with
Pahom, and they had a talk. The dealer said that he was just
returning from the land of the Bashkirs, far away, where he had
bought thirteen thousand acres of land all for 1,000 roubles. Pahom
questioned him further, and the tradesman said:

“All one need do is to make friends with the chiefs. I gave away
about one hundred roubles’ worth of dressing-gowns and carpets,
besides a case of tea, and I gave wine to those who would drink it;
and I got the land for less than two cents an acre. And he showed
Pahom the title-deeds, saying:

“The land lies near a river, and the whole prairie is virgin soil.”

Pahom plied him with questions, and the tradesman said:

“There is more land there than you could cover if you walked a year,
and it all belongs to the Bashkirs. They are as simple as sheep,
and land can be got almost for nothing.”

“There now,” thought Pahom, “with my one thousand roubles, why
should I get only thirteen hundred acres, and saddle myself with a
debt besides. If I take it out there, I can get more than ten times
as much for the money.”

V

Pahom inquired how to get to the place, and as soon as the tradesman
had left him, he prepared to go there himself. He left his wife to
look after the homestead, and started on his journey taking his man
with him. They stopped at a town on their way, and bought a case of
tea, some wine, and other presents, as the tradesman had advised.
On and on they went until they had gone more than three hundred
miles, and on the seventh day they came to a place where the
Bashkirs had pitched their tents. It was all just as the tradesman
had said. The people lived on the steppes, by a river, in felt-
covered tents. They neither tilled the ground, nor ate bread.
Their cattle and horses grazed in herds on the steppe. The colts
were tethered behind the tents, and the mares were driven to them
twice a day. The mares were milked, and from the milk kumiss was
made. It was the women who prepared kumiss, and they also made
cheese. As far as the men were concerned, drinking kumiss and tea,
eating mutton, and playing on their pipes, was all they cared about.
They were all stout and merry, and all the summer long they never
thought of doing any work. They were quite ignorant, and knew no
Russian, but were good-natured enough.

As soon as they saw Pahom, they came out of their tents and gathered
round their visitor. An interpreter was found, and Pahom told them
he had come about some land. The Bashkirs seemed very glad; they
took Pahom and led him into one of the best tents, where they made
him sit on some down cushions placed on a carpet, while they sat
round him. They gave him tea and kumiss, and had a sheep killed,
and gave him mutton to eat. Pahom took presents out of his cart and
distributed them among the Bashkirs, and divided amongst them the
tea. The Bashkirs were delighted. They talked a great deal among
themselves, and then told the interpreter to translate.

“They wish to tell you,” said the interpreter, “that they like you,
and that it is our custom to do all we can to please a guest and to
repay him for his gifts. You have given us presents, now tell us
which of the things we possess please you best, that we may present
them to you.”

“What pleases me best here,” answered Pahom, “is your land. Our
land is crowded, and the soil is exhausted; but you have plenty of
land and it is good land. I never saw the like of it.”

The interpreter translated. The Bashkirs talked among themselves
for a while. Pahom could not understand what they were saying, but
saw that they were much amused, and that they shouted and laughed.
Then they were silent and looked at Pahom while the interpreter said:

“They wish me to tell you that in return for your presents they will
gladly give you as much land as you want. You have only to point it
out with your hand and it is yours.”

The Bashkirs talked again for a while and began to dispute. Pahom
asked what they were disputing about, and the interpreter told him
that some of them thought they ought to ask their Chief about the
land and not act in his absence, while others thought there was no
need to wait for his return.

VI

While the Bashkirs were disputing, a man in a large fox-fur cap
appeared on the scene. They all became silent and rose to their
feet. The interpreter said, “This is our Chief himself.”

Pahom immediately fetched the best dressing-gown and five pounds of
tea, and offered these to the Chief. The Chief accepted them, and
seated himself in the place of honour. The Bashkirs at once began
telling him something. The Chief listened for a while, then made a
sign with his head for them to be silent, and addressing himself to
Pahom, said in Russian:

“Well, let it be so. Choose whatever piece of land you like; we
have plenty of it.”

“How can I take as much as I like?” thought Pahom. “I must get a
deed to make it secure, or else they may say, ‘It is yours,’ and
afterwards may take it away again.”

“Thank you for your kind words,” he said aloud. “You have much
land, and I only want a little. But I should like to be sure which
bit is mine. Could it not be measured and made over to me? Life and
death are in God’s hands. You good people give it to me, but your
children might wish to take it away again.”

“You are quite right,” said the Chief. “We will make it over to you.”

“I heard that a dealer had been here,” continued Pahom, “and that
you gave him a little land, too, and signed title-deeds to that
effect. I should like to have it done in the same way.”

The Chief understood.

“Yes,” replied he, “that can be done quite easily. We have a scribe,
and we will go to town with you and have the deed properly sealed.”

“And what will be the price?” asked Pahom.

“Our price is always the same: one thousand roubles a day.”

Pahom did not understand.

“A day? What measure is that? How many acres would that be?”

“We do not know how to reckon it out,” said the Chief. “We sell it
by the day. As much as you can go round on your feet in a day is
yours, and the price is one thousand roubles a day.”

Pahom was surprised.

“But in a day you can get round a large tract of land,” he said.

The Chief laughed.

“It will all be yours!” said he. “But there is one condition: If
you don’t return on the same day to the spot whence you started,
your money is lost.”

“But how am I to mark the way that I have gone?”

“Why, we shall go to any spot you like, and stay there. You must
start from that spot and make your round, taking a spade with you.
Wherever you think necessary, make a mark. At every turning, dig a
hole and pile up the turf; then afterwards we will go round with a
plough from hole to hole. You may make as large a circuit as you
please, but before the sun sets you must return to the place you
started from. All the land you cover will be yours.”

Pahom was delighted. It-was decided to start early next morning.
They talked a while, and after drinking some more kumiss and eating
some more mutton, they had tea again, and then the night came on.
They gave Pahom a feather-bed to sleep on, and the Bashkirs
dispersed for the night, promising to assemble the next morning at
daybreak and ride out before sunrise to the appointed spot.

VII

Pahom lay on the feather-bed, but could not sleep. He kept thinking
about the land.

“What a large tract I will mark off!” thought he. “I can easily go
thirty-five miles in a day. The days are long now, and within a
circuit of thirty-five miles what a lot of land there will be! I
will sell the poorer land, or let it to peasants, but I’ll pick out
the best and farm it. I will buy two ox-teams, and hire two more
laborers. About a hundred and fifty acres shall be plough-land, and
I will pasture cattle on the rest.”

Pahom lay awake all night, and dozed off only just before dawn.
Hardly were his eyes closed when he had a dream. He thought he was
lying in that same tent, and heard somebody chuckling outside. He
wondered who it could be, and rose and went out, and he saw the
Bashkir Chief sitting in front of the tent holding his side and
rolling about with laughter. Going nearer to the Chief, Pahom
asked: “What are you laughing at?” But he saw that it was no longer
the Chief, but the dealer who had recently stopped at his house and
had told him about the land. Just as Pahom was going to ask, “Have
you been here long?” he saw that it was not the dealer, but the
peasant who had come up from the Volga, long ago, to Pahom’s old
home. Then he saw that it was not the peasant either, but the Devil
himself with hoofs and horns, sitting there and chuckling, and
before him lay a man barefoot, prostrate on the ground, with only
trousers and a shirt on. And Pahom dreamt that he looked more
attentively to see what sort of a man it was lying there, and he saw
that the man was dead, and that it was himself! He awoke horror-struck.

“What things one does dream,” thought he.

Looking round he saw through the open door that the dawn was breaking.

“It’s time to wake them up,” thought he. “We ought to be starting.”

He got up, roused his man (who was sleeping in his cart), bade him
harness; and went to call the Bashkirs.

“It’s time to go to the steppe to measure the land,” he said.

The Bashkirs rose and assembled, and the Chief came, too. Then they
began drinking kumiss again, and offered Pahom some tea, but he
would not wait.

“If we are to go, let us go. It is high time,” said he.

VIII

The Bashkirs got ready and they all started: some mounted on horses,
and some in carts. Pahom drove in his own small cart with his
servant, and took a spade with him. When they reached the steppe,
the morning red was beginning to kindle. They ascended a hillock
(called by the Bashkirs a shikhan) and dismounting from their carts
and their horses, gathered in one spot. The Chief came up to Pahom
and stretched out his arm towards the plain:

“See,” said he, “all this, as far as your eye can reach, is ours.
You may have any part of it you like.”

Pahom’s eyes glistened: it was all virgin soil, as flat as the palm
of your hand, as black as the seed of a poppy, and in the hollows
different kinds of grasses grew breast high.

The Chief took off his fox-fur cap, placed it on the ground and said:

“This will be the mark. Start from here, and return here again.
All the land you go round shall be yours.”

Pahom took out his money and put it on the cap. Then he took off
his outer coat, remaining in his sleeveless under coat. He
unfastened his girdle and tied it tight below his stomach, put a
little bag of bread into the breast of his coat, and tying a flask
of water to his girdle, he drew up the tops of his boots, took the
spade from his man, and stood ready to start. He considered for
some moments which way he had better go–it was tempting everywhere.

“No matter,” he concluded, “I will go towards the rising sun.”

He turned his face to the east, stretched himself, and waited for
the sun to appear above the rim.

“I must lose no time,” he thought, “and it is easier walking while
it is still cool.”

The sun’s rays had hardly flashed above the horizon, before Pahom,
carrying the spade over his shoulder, went down into the steppe.

Pahom started walking neither slowly nor quickly. After having gone
a thousand yards he stopped, dug a hole and placed pieces of turf
one on another to make it more visible. Then he went on; and now
that he had walked off his stiffness he quickened his pace. After a
while he dug another hole.

Pahom looked back. The hillock could be distinctly seen in the
sunlight, with the people on it, and the glittering tires of the
cartwheels. At a rough guess Pahom concluded that he had walked
three miles. It was growing warmer; he took off his under-coat,
flung it across his shoulder, and went on again. It had grown quite
warm now; he looked at the sun, it was time to think of breakfast.

“The first shift is done, but there are four in a day, and it is too
soon yet to turn. But I will just take off my boots,” said he to himself.

He sat down, took off his boots, stuck them into his girdle, and went on.
It was easy walking now.

“I will go on for another three miles,” thought he, “and then turn
to the left. The spot is so fine, that it would be a pity to lose
it. The further one goes, the better the land seems.”

He went straight on a for a while, and when he looked round, the
hillock was scarcely visible and the people on it looked like black
ants, and he could just see something glistening there in the sun.

“Ah,” thought Pahom, “I have gone far enough in this direction, it
is time to turn. Besides I am in a regular sweat, and very thirsty.”

He stopped, dug a large hole, and heaped up pieces of turf. Next he
untied his flask, had a drink, and then turned sharply to the left.
He went on and on; the grass was high, and it was very hot.

Pahom began to grow tired: he looked at the sun and saw that it was noon.

“Well,” he thought, “I must have a rest.”

He sat down, and ate some bread and drank some water; but he did not
lie down, thinking that if he did he might fall asleep. After
sitting a little while, he went on again. At first he walked
easily: the food had strengthened him; but it had become terribly
hot, and he felt sleepy; still he went on, thinking: “An hour to
suffer, a life-time to live.”

He went a long way in this direction also, and was about to turn to
the left again, when he perceived a damp hollow: “It would be a pity
to leave that out,” he thought. “Flax would do well there.” So he
went on past the hollow, and dug a hole on the other side of it
before he turned the corner. Pahom looked towards the hillock. The
heat made the air hazy: it seemed to be quivering, and through the
haze the people on the hillock could scarcely be seen.

“Ah!” thought Pahom, “I have made the sides too long; I must make
this one shorter.” And he went along the third side, stepping
faster. He looked at the sun: it was nearly half way to the
horizon, and he had not yet done two miles of the third side of the
square. He was still ten miles from the goal.

“No,” he thought, “though it will make my land lopsided, I must
hurry back in a straight line now. I might go too far, and as it is
I have a great deal of land.”

So Pahom hurriedly dug a hole, and turned straight towards the hillock.

IX

Pahom went straight towards the hillock, but he now walked with
difficulty. He was done up with the heat, his bare feet were cut
and bruised, and his legs began to fail. He longed to rest, but it
was impossible if he meant to get back before sunset. The sun waits
for no man, and it was sinking lower and lower.

“Oh dear,” he thought, “if only I have not blundered trying for too
much! What if I am too late?”

He looked towards the hillock and at the sun. He was still far from
his goal, and the sun was already near the rim. Pahom walked on and
on; it was very hard walking, but he went quicker and quicker. He
pressed on, but was still far from the place. He began running,
threw away his coat, his boots, his flask, and his cap, and kept
only the spade which he used as a support.

“What shall I do,” he thought again, “I have grasped too much, and
ruined the whole affair. I can’t get there before the sun sets.”

And this fear made him still more breathless. Pahom went on
running, his soaking shirt and trousers stuck to him, and his mouth
was parched. His breast was working like a blacksmith’s bellows,
his heart was beating like a hammer, and his legs were giving way as
if they did not belong to him. Pahom was seized with terror lest he
should die of the strain.

Though afraid of death, he could not stop. “After having run all
that way they will call me a fool if I stop now,” thought he. And
he ran on and on, and drew near and heard the Bashkirs yelling and
shouting to him, and their cries inflamed his heart still more. He
gathered his last strength and ran on.

The sun was close to the rim, and cloaked in mist looked large, and
red as blood. Now, yes now, it was about to set! The sun was quite
low, but he was also quite near his aim. Pahom could already see
the people on the hillock waving their arms to hurry him up. He
could see the fox-fur cap on the ground, and the money on it, and
the Chief sitting on the ground holding his sides. And Pahom
remembered his dream.

“There is plenty of land,” thought he, “but will God let me live on
it? I have lost my life, I have lost my life! I shall never reach
that spot!”

Pahom looked at the sun, which had reached the earth: one side of it
had already disappeared. With all his remaining strength he rushed
on, bending his body forward so that his legs could hardly follow
fast enough to keep him from falling. Just as he reached the
hillock it suddenly grew dark. He looked up–the sun had already
set. He gave a cry: “All my labor has been in vain,” thought he,
and was about to stop, but he heard the Bashkirs still shouting, and
remembered that though to him, from below, the sun seemed to have
set, they on the hillock could still see it. He took a long breath
and ran up the hillock. It was still light there. He reached the
top and saw the cap. Before it sat the Chief laughing and holding
his sides. Again Pahom remembered his dream, and he uttered a cry:
his legs gave way beneath him, he fell forward and reached the cap
with his hands.

“Ah, what a fine fellow!” exclaimed the Chief. “He has gained
much land!”

Pahom’s servant came running up and tried to raise him, but he saw
that blood was flowing from his mouth. Pahom was dead!

The Bashkirs clicked their tongues to show their pity.

His servant picked up the spade and dug a grave long enough for
Pahom to lie in, and buried him in it. Six feet from his head to
his heels was all he needed.

Footnotes:

1.  One hundred kopeks make a rouble. The kopek is worth about
half a cent.

2.  A non-intoxicating drink usually made from rye-malt and rye-flour.

3.  The brick oven in a Russian peasant’s hut is usually built so
as to leave a flat top, large enough to lie on, for those who want
to sleep in a warm place.

4.  120 “desyatins.” The “desyatina” is properly 2.7 acres; but in
this story round numbers are used.

5.  Three roubles per “desyatina.”

6.  Five “kopeks” for a “desyatina.”