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From an undated newsclip, Rushden Echo, c1947
Higham Park Farm - Mechanical Blitz

Above an "International" tractor with grain and fertiliser drill is driven by Mr. W. S. Holt.

Mechanical Blitz on No-Horse Farm -  Big Effort To Make Up For Lost Time

A mechanical procession invaded the sweet-smelling land of a Rushden farm on Monday morning, when the farmer and his two motor-minded sons set out to make up for lost time. Starting at seven o'clock—which by standard Greenwich reckoning would be 5 a.m.—the day's programme was mapped out to continue until 8.30 in the evening.

After 52 years in farming Mr. W. G. Holt of Higham  Park, could not recall a worse winter that the one which had now passed, and reckoned he was six weeks behind his normal schedule. After four hours' work, however, he jumped cheerfully from a machine, ran his hand through a tub of peas, and declared with a smile: "The season's late, but if it comes right we shall catch up".

"I'll take these peas," said Mabel, the Land Girl, and with an easy swing over the rough earth she bore them away to the disc drill from which she had just alighted. The Shaggy dog barked with delight.

The Holts have two farms on the Bedford side of Rushden, and the land on both is very heavy. They knew it would pay them to bide their time while farmers on a lighter soil were getting into action after the big hold up, and for weeks they contented themselves with preparations and general repairs and constructional work. They made some new bull pens, for instance, and the gales had left them with much damage to mend. Over two or three bays of a big Dutch barn the roof had been stripped away like paper.

Offensive  Begins

Most of the mechanical equipment is housed at Higham Park, but the spring offensive broke out at Bencroft Grange, threequarters of a mile away on the other side of the road. Here there are 138 acres, standing so high that in the wild weather of a few weeks back the snow swept up into huge drifts and even the hedges were lost to view.

On Monday, however, the scene, like the scent of the earth, was pleasant and rich with promise. Mr. W. G. Holt pointed to five of his mechanical units purring about in a widespread field of endeavour, and indicated the hedge which separated Northants from Bedfordshire.

He spoke of his 32 years of farming at Rushden, and how at the age of 12 he left school at his native Holdenby to work on his father's farm—still occupied by his brother.

"I can't see that there will be a lot of difference later on," he said. "It all depends on what sort of summer and autumn we get. I don't know how we shall get on with the potatoes, however."

Miss Mabel Bracey the Land Girl from Huddersfield, who has been at the farm five years, can do almost any job, and in the words of her boss is a "wonderful worker." Here she is giving the "works" a
once-over before doing a bit of disc-drilling.
20 Acres a Day

As the farmer spoke, two caterpillars were ploughing part of the land. Their combined efforts can cover a 20-acre field in a day.

On ground which had been disc-harrowed on Saturday the senior farmer and Mabel were drilling-in 14½ acres of peas, using a motor-driven grain and fertiliser disc drill with harrows behind. Peas and fertiliser went into the ground together, and the harrow did its work as the machine went along.

In the next field spring wheat. also with fertiliser, was shedding out in long rows. The field is of 27 acres and Monday’s objective was 20 acres.

A tractor plough chugged over the headlands of a field which had to be left unfinished last autumn. This was in readiness for the drilling-in of oats on Tuesday. There were fields of barley to be sown too, but it was hoped to finish spring seeding this week, and to follow with a field of potatoes next week if the land is dry enough.

On the two farms nearly 200 acres of wheat and oats were put in last autumn. They have survived the winter, but one 35-acre lot of oats is very thin.

Mick Newell on the TD 6
Mabel, the Land Girl, is Miss Bracey, from Huddersfield. She has been with Messrs. Holt for five years and is "a wonderful girl" who can drive any farming machine.

Mr. Holt's sons, Messrs. W. S. and H. G. Holt, were also driving. Mickey Newell, aged 17, had charge of a Diesel oil International track­layer which was working with a heavy set of disc harrows.

Derek Oldham, a farm pupil from Northampton, was carting seed and fertiliser, and had a chubby little companion in Mr. W. S. Holt's four-year-old daughter, Dorothy Joan, who sat comfortably among the big bags and looked very alert when  the wagon moved along.

There is not a horse on the two Holt farms, and no sheep are kept, but one Jersey cow was tethered at Bencroft Grange and cattle and pigs are reared at Higham Park.

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