General Chat

Top tip - using the Genes Reunited community

Welcome to the Genes Reunited community boards!

  • The Genes Reunited community is made up of millions of people with similar interests. Discover your family history and make life long friends along the way.
  • You will find a close knit but welcoming group of keen genealogists all prepared to offer advice and help to new members.
  • And it's not all serious business. The boards are often a place to relax and be entertained by all kinds of subjects.
  • The Genes community will go out of their way to help you, so don’t be shy about asking for help.

Quick Search

Single word search

The British Newspaper Archive

British Newspaper Archive

Read about historical events at the time they were happening. Perhaps you'll discover your ancestor in their local newspaper?

Start searching


  • New posts
  • No new posts
  • Thread closed
  • Stickied, new posts
  • Stickied, no new posts

Ag Labs. Salt of the Earth!

Page 0 + 1 of 2

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. »
ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


Joy Report 17 Jan 2009 21:34

Found in Liverpool Family Historian June 02


Joy Report 17 Jan 2009 21:34

Food For Thought- He must have been an Ag Lab

"Ask yourselves whether you know the gestation period for a sheep or a cow,
and you can't read or write to make a note of it. The ag lab knew when the
animal would calve by observing the position of the stars and work it out
from that, or from the particular religious festivals being celebrated in
church at the appropriate times. Reading and writing is one thing, but it
wasn't necessary, numeracy however or a limited knowledge of it was
essential so as to count his or his masters livestock and his own money and
to tell the time. It was no good thinking that 7 o'clock came immediately
after three bells had just struck on the church clock!

There was no electricity, the lanes were bad and there was no health
service. The Ag lab knew how to make his own rush lights to light his home,
the shortest and driest route between 2 places and which herbs to pick as
remedies for his families ailments. He knew his neighbours far better than
we know ours. We isolate ourselves in our cars and in front of our
television sets. He relied on neighbours with different skills from his, to
help him out when the need arose. He was thrifty where we borrow on bits of
plastic he and his family had to make ends meet regardless or with great
shame go on the parish.

Yes he could even forecast his local weather by watching the reactions of
wildlife and plants to changing conditions. He was far better at it than any
of us from our centrally heated homes and offices. He knew how to thatch and
how to get straight straw for thatching whereas we send for experts to fix a
cracked slate.

He was tough. He could walk for days behind a plough, pulled by a team of
horses, and still walk miles to church each Sunday. A 20 mile walk laden with
produce or purchases to and from market each week was also the norm for
some. No fancily equipped gymnasium for him, yet he was fitter than today's
health freaks who maybe should take a lesson or two from his ancestors.

Can you use a sickle or scythe from dawn to dusk, in all weathers? Can you
snare a rabbit for dinner or cut beanpoles from a hedge in a manner that
will promote further growth? Can you mix your own whitewash, or train a dog
to hunt or round up sheep for you? Come to that can you milk a cow or
slaughter and butcher a sheep or pig?

So called ag labs were no fools. They survived and very few of us would be
here to read this if they hadn't!

Leave your car at home and walk to work tomorrow, even if it is five miles,
your ancestor did!"


Joy Report 17 Jan 2009 23:15

nudged - because I like it ... :-)

Maz (the Royal One) in the East End 9256

Maz (the Royal One) in the East End 9256 Report 18 Jan 2009 10:36

thanks for putting this up Joy - makes me feel proud of all my Ag Labs !!

also ties in nicely with the Victorian Farm programme currently showing.

Maz. xxxx

Lancashire Witch

Lancashire Witch Report 18 Jan 2009 11:26

All my Dad's side were Ag. Labs. in SWaledale, The article was an interesting eye-opener and many things contained I had never though about.

Thanks for posting this item, Joy.

Hazel x


AnnCardiff Report 18 Jan 2009 12:06

my maternal line all ag labs from Berkshire - 4 X g.grandmother lived into her nineties dying of "decay of the body" which was pretty good in those days with no NHS


Dormouse Report 18 Jan 2009 17:42

Thanks for that, Joy - my tree is positively overflowing with ag labs - in fact I've got little else!!


Joy Report 18 Jan 2009 22:37

Thank you.

You're welcome.

I feel a close affinity with some of my ancestral family of ag labs in Suffolk, one of whom was described as a farm labourer on his death certificate at the age of 90!


Joy Report 23 Jan 2009 17:00

Thought Malcolm might like to see it.


Joy Report 23 Jun 2009 22:26


I thought of this when in church recently, and when watching harvesting being done the other day.

~~~Secret Red ^^ Squirrel~~~  **007 1/2**

~~~Secret Red ^^ Squirrel~~~ **007 1/2** Report 23 Jun 2009 22:33

I've seen this before .........great article. However, will keep this in my bookmarks for future reference.

Thanks Joy :)


maggiewinchester Report 23 Jun 2009 23:53

As an ex ag lab - I still don't know the gestation period of a sheep or cow - but I worked on an arable farm!
Weighing 7 and a half stone, I used to lug half hundred weight bags of spuds around, plant cabbages and lettuce, cut them, pack them, and pee in the river!
I don't drive, and there was one bus a week - on a Wednesday , when I was at work! Kept ducks, which we killed to eat, grew our own veggies (had to - see public transport above).
There was a church and 2 pubs in the village - which was over a mile away.
Gosh I was fit in those days!!

maggie, from a long line of ag labs on one side (tin/copper miners on the other!)


Sharron Report 24 Jun 2009 10:26

Agricultural labourers saw a lot more than we do.We tend to only see what we are shown and notice very few details otherwise.

I doubt he knew the gestation period of his beasts by observing the stars,more likely by observing the animal.My grandfather,born 1874,could tell his sheep apart.


Joy Report 7 Sep 2009 21:44



AnninGlos Report 7 Sep 2009 22:02

Thanks Joy, enjoyed this when I first saw it. Loved the Victorian Farm series too and with birthday money I have bought the book of the series.

Glos who also comes from a long line of Ag Labs


Elizabethofseasons Report 7 Sep 2009 22:34

Dear All


Lets here it for our Agricultural Labourer ancestors!

They were in tune with nature, the cycles, herbs, flowers, etc.

Mine worked in Wiltshire and travelled though Southern England.

Best wishes to all


AnnCardiff Report 8 Sep 2009 01:40

donlt know if anyone can answer this for me -

my maternal grandparents, Daniel and Louisa Breakspear left Woolstone in Berkshire rather hurriedly apparently because Daniel had been caught poaching rabbits - a hanging offence at the time. They went to Brigend in South Wales and then to a suburb of Cardiff where I am. I can;t work out how they got from Berkshire to South Wales in those days/ Any ideas?


badger Report 10 Sep 2009 17:04

Thanks indeed Sharron ,i missed this ,which is a shame ,my family history going back to bucks in the 1500s,most of them being farm workers/woodworkers,
Hi ,to Maz ,and secret red squirrel ,nice to see you around again .Fred


Joy Report 11 Feb 2010 21:15

For new readers :-)


SylviaInCanada Report 11 Feb 2010 21:37

Hadn't seen this before. Very interesting.

Thank you Joy

AnnOGG ...... I see noone answered your question.

I would suggest that they probably walked, possibly with a hand cart holding belongings. Hitching rides with carters when possible.

Another interesting question could be .............. why there? Did they possibly have some relations there?