CHRISTINE BROOM writes: I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be involved in farm work when I grew up. I was educated at Sandown Grammar School, obtained GCE certificates with high grades and lived in the centre of town.

Not for me factory or shop work, however after several arguments with my parents they relented and I found my first job working for David King, at Broadfields Farm, Merstone as a poultry assistant earning around £6 a week for a five-and-a-half day week.

I recall my mother taking me to the government surplus store in Lower St James’s Street and kitted me out with a black oilskin jacket and trousers complete with a sou’wester to commence my work in the countryside.

On my first day I caught the bus from Lake to Merstone and then had to walk a mile to the farm. My first job was to look after around 400 chickens that were housed in wooden army huts and I was shown how to feed them, collect and grade the eggs and rear the day-old chicks through their various stages until they were mature laying hens.

After grading the eggs, that were placed on cardboard trays taking 30 eggs, they were stored until Monday when they were delivered to houses and hotels in Sandown and Shanklin, with any surplus being sold at the egg-packing station that was in South Street, Newport, on the site where the ATS garage currently stands.

After weeks of travelling to work via Southern Vectis I then became the owner of a Vespa scooter and gained some independence.

Later I was taught and trusted how to drive the firm’s van, and proudly passed my test at the first attempt.

Driving into Newport on market day filled me with trepidation, not helped by the van that I drove being better suited to being in Beaulieu Motor Museum.

One morning I set off in this van, loaded with eggs and with a combination of driving too fast and a slippery road smashed into the back of farmer Edgar Calloway’s van. Eggs suddenly shot forward and smashed into the back of my head. For the next week I lived on omelettes.

There was one particular hotel that I delivered to in Sandown that I was always uneasy in visiting for I was told that it was being run by a getaway driver of a famous London gangster.

Another part of my “training” was picking sprouts, that happened to be my least favourite job.

For this I wore a pair of thick woollen gloves with a larger pair of rubber gloves over them and tied at the wrist with string. Even then my hands were so cold I could not feel the sprouts in my hands.

Each picker would walk along a row of sprouts and pick each stalk clean and then drop them into a hessian sack before moving to the next one.

There was no luxury then, as today, of a mechanical machine to carry out the task. There were too marrows that had to be cut by hand and a tractor and trailer would drive between the rows and a strong arm was needed to throw the marrows up to a packer who placed them in wooden crates ready to be delivered to local shops.

My employer was an excellent farmer and businessman, who employed a large staff, including lorry drivers who delivered fresh vegetables direct to local shops and hotels.

In addition to the poultry, there was also a herd of pigs to be looked after. Cabbage planting was yet another task and by using the old iron planter that was towed by a tractor the gang soon became covered in red Arreton dust. Despite all this I loved my job.

Naturally I met some of the old farming characters that were prevalent at that time, one of these being a man named Hedley Calloway, who lived with his wife, Rose, in the blacksmith’s house in Merstone.

A typical old countryman, he rode an ancient push bike with a metal carrier on the front in which he carried various hessian sacks that in adverse weather he would wrap around himself.

One day, one of the farm workers placed a dead cat in the middle of the sacks and it was many days later he discovered the source of the unpleasant smell.

Mr King decided to sell his poultry and pigs and although I could have stayed and worked on the land I decided to look for another job.This I obtained working at Parsonage Farm, Newchurch, working with dairy cows.

Having researched my family tree it is little wonder where I got my love of the land, for on my mother’s side I got back as far as 1600, and they were all farmers. On my paternal side they were farmers and millers in Cornwall. They were happy days that only bring back fond memories.