Corp, John (b.1902)
John Corp was born in 1902 in Sutton near Shepton Mallet. As a child he helped his father make cider, and later became a farmer. His father employed a boy to scare birds from the corn seeds; the boy would arrive for work early in the morning, and leave in time for school.
Ploughing team, c.1930. Ploughing team, c.1930.
Sound File
Listen to John Corp - 1.54MB Duration 3:21 min.

JC: But going back to ploughing, when we, we had it all ploughed up, you had to drag it, and everything was done by horses.  Some horses got so used to it, they would walk the furrows without me driving at all.  They went with the names of ‘Come here’ and ‘Walk off’. Those horses knew what that was after they had been on so long, and often times you didn’t need the reins to drive them and very often when you sow this corn, next thing was we had to get a boy to keep the birds off, first thing in the morning, usually they come down first thing in the morning.  ‘Course, the seed wasn’t dressed at all and there were no artificial manure or anything like that in those days, and used to be very troublesome at times, and during harvest time, they, the birds sometimes would come and clear 2 or 3 acres before I could do anything about it.


KW: Did you used to have a harvest supper?


JC: No, we never had a harvest supper.


KW: No.  When you had the boy who, who scared the birds off, what did he use?


JC: Well, only his mouth in those days.   


KW: He didn’t have a rattle, a clapper?


JC: No, not this one didn’t, but then we used to put out bird-scarers as well, you see, and they used to… I remember our neighbour had, had a mechanised thing that went off, shot off.  Every so many, every so many minutes this thing would go off bang, you see, but the birds got so used to it that it didn’t make a bit of difference to them.


KW: How much did the boy get paid for his bird-scaring?


JC: Oh, I don’t remember, only a few shillings.


KW: And that, would that be a boy still at school, or after he left school?


JC: Oh, probably going to school.


KW: Still at school. Yes.  So he’d come in early in the morning before going to school?


JC: Yes, yes, because I can remember the one we had.  He used to go out there and say ‘Ya Hi’. Then they would put up a hut, you see, go in this hut, you see, stay in this hut, you see, and then go out and frighten them off afterwards, because if they saw the boy there if he wasn’t under cover, you see, they wouldn’t come.

Copyright Information
Copyright. This recording was made by Ann Heeley in 1973. Photograph ©SRLM. For access to full interview please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre.