A personal memoir of growing up and working on a family farm in the 1940s and 50s: a short and unique period just after the second world war when the English countryside was flourishing, but modern farming was still mostly in the future. In this time of transition many aspects of the way of life and sustainable farming practices had t changed for centuries. The author sets out to record and re-create the flavour of life in the special landscape of the Somerset Levels while setting his story in a wider context of history and ideas which may offer some insights into modern dilemmas.
Roy Preece grew up in the secret countryside of the Somerset Moors at a time when children could roam freely and safely over fields, farms and workshops. At age eleven he could put in a ten-hour day driving a tractor at hay-making. The brilliant headmaster of his traditional country grammar school had worked on radar research throughout the war, but after school was quite happy to put on overalls and feed the pigs which he kept to supplement the pupils' diet in the years of austerity. The boys marked out the games pitches, put up the goal posts and even stoked the school boilers. Roy has since obtained degrees from three universities and spent most of his life as a lecturer, producing several books and a variety of articles, but he still maintains this deeply felt practical side to his life by inventing, building, making furniture, and maintaining and sailing an old sail boat.