More trouble for a woman managing men

Frankie was in a bind because she did not yet know enough about farming to manage without a bailiff and any bailiff tended to be a man not happy to share the responsibility with a young and inexperienced woman, or be managed by her. He also realised that once she knew how to do things, he would be dispensable. So she had to deal with a man’s natural misogyny towards a woman managing men and also his fear of being replaceable. Jones had these feelings in double strength, and even Carling, a nice man who came to replace Jones, refused to allow her to learn the skills or do very much on the farm.

These issues still exist today and much is written about the problem, from both sides.

1/10/40    Day of troubles. First of all Oakley the deaf and dumb has run a fork through his thumb and is laid off. Then both  Wyatts gave notice to leave this Friday. I said nonsense they must give week’s notice like anyone else. So they said they did give it last Friday to Jones. Well if they do leave this Friday they can expect their last week’s money from Jones too. This leaves 2 able bodied men only, besides Carling. However I am not got down – for 2 reasons. One is treatment of this sort which is just spite makes me feel tough and anyway I shall be damn glad not to have the Wyatts on the farm as they are bad mannered surly louts and I would never really feel a good atmosphere on the farm as long as they were there. So though it puts me temporarily completely on the spot, in the long run I am delighted to think I shan’t have to see their dirty little faces every day. I believe with any luck I can weather it.

Tractor and threshing machinery. problems for a woman managing men
Threshing. Beans were even more complicated

Jones is now refusing (not directly but in fact) to thresh the beans which are needed for this year’s seed. This mean the wretched Carling will have to thresh them as his first job and as he has never done it before he will hate it. It also means I shall somehow or other have to raise a gang of men for one day to get it done as you have to have at least 8 or 9 and Jones has let all the extra men we had go. However, I’m not really depressed. I can take anything now there is only a day or two more of Jones. I could never describe to you how much I hate that man or how glad I shall be to see the back of him.

4/10/40   Great goings on here. Margetts made the inventory. There were 22 sheep short which Jones accounted for by a series of remarkable deaths. I said to Highman, “Have a lot of sheep died on this farm this summer?” and he replied “Well I did hear they lost one dipping.” I went to a solicitor who told me it was a case for the police. He rang up the police and without mentioning any names gave them the facts and asked them whether they would investigate and take matters up if given the names etc or not. They said yes they would.

Now at this point stop and decide a) what you would have done b) what you think I did – bearing in mind he has done every oddish trick he could think of such as getting Wyatts to leave without notice, insulting me etc etc etc and also bearing in mind that if police prove case then we can get money back i.e. about £60. Don’t cheat decide before turning.

Frankie actually continues now on other side of page

Well I think left to myself I just might have done it. But the Stapledons urged me not to – on the grounds that the waste of nervous energy it would involve sooner or later simply wasn’t worth it and that if by chance the police gaoled him and the Wyatts were involved and got gaoled too the feeling in the village might go either way and I might have difficulty with men etc etc. Any way Stapes hated the idea and was very keen I shouldn’t. So I have done absolutely nothing. The solicitor advised me that if the Wyatts like to take the line they gave notice to Jones they could get away with it so I tamely paid their wages tonight and tomorrow I shall pay Jones £24 I owe him and £4 for this week’s wages – knowing that he owes us double that. But if by any chance he doesn’t get out of the house tomorrow, which he is supposed to be going to, then I may change my mind.

Well I am not asking whether you approve because I am nearly 100% certain you will and it is just what you would have done. Personally I think it is pretty flabby but if they all get out tomorrow it may be worth it to see the end of all of them.

Carling has arrived and I think is going to be v. nice. We are on the spot for milkers and God only knows what we shall do but there it is. I got a sort of odd job man to work temporarily but we have got to find 2 more men from somewhere. But any way all the really sickening worries are over and if Jones goes tomorrow it will really start to be fun. If I ever had another month like the last I should sell the farm and that’s that.



That is the chief news.

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A Woman's War