Gates and grates

A-Z challenge - My memories of life on the farm in the nineteen fifties and sixties

Gates and grates

A farm is a place with a myriad of gates. Gates on paddocks, sheds and yards all for a variety of purposes and all differently constructed. Close the gate after you is still as relevant today was it was then.

Gates kept animals in paddocks and sheds and children out of danger. There were high gates on the old farmhouse backyard. The house was next to a creek, unsafe for small children. Along the edge of the creek, the washing line was strung above the grey wormwood bushes. I have very early memories of standing at the gate straining to watch as Mum hung out the clothes. In my early years, there was a gate leading to the driveway out to the road seen in the photo above.

The top gate was at the entrance to the property and after some years was replaced with a cattle grate. This saved a lot of getting in and out of vehicles to open and close gates. The paddock gates were usually made out of a panel of fencing wire which closed against a straining post.  These gates had a light post on one end, could be opened in either direction and were easy to pick up and move aside. Over time old posts that had been used in fences were replaced with star pickets or cement posts.


In the new house, front and back yards were constrained by gates. The gate into the orchard marked the extent of the back yard where a carefully tended piece of lawn was nurtured. Further along a gate to the extensive vegetable garden provided access from the house yard and a high surrounding fence also kept dogs, turkeys and chooks (fowls) at bay. The far exit from the orchard into the cow yard required negotiating another two gates.

The pig pens each had individual wooden gates leading out to the paddock.
Gates on three sides of the tennis court provided quick access to other areas, useful for chasing stray balls. Mending fences and maintaining gates was always an ongoing job for the men of the farm.

Next H - Harvest, hay and a Hills hoist

32 comments:

  1. Yes you really know you're in the country as a city kid when you have to get in and out of the car to open and close gates.

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    1. It slows life's pace to match the timeless country.

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  2. One of the things I was always taught on my aunt's farm was to close the gates behind me, even if some of them were closed with a bit of old baler twine.
    Sophie
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - Dragon Diaries

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    1. Some of ours had a loop of wire which had to be manoeuvred over the large post. Others had a drop down metal bracket to close and secure the gate.

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  3. This really took me back to my childhood. I grew up in a market town and spent all of my holidays on friend's parents farms . I remember driving cattle down the main street and chasing runaway pigs on market day. I recall clearing cow's muck and collecting eggs. I sometimes drove a tractor despite hardly reaching the pedals. I often steered a rumbling combine harvester! Happy days. Thank you Sophie.

    Another day in Amble Bay!



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    1. Ooh, runaway pigs that would have been tricky. Thanks for visiting from Amble Bay.

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  4. I remember being told to leave the gate as you found it, some gates were being left open for a reason ...


    G is for Gretna Green

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    Anne Young

    Anne's family history

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    1. So true for adjoining paddocks when sheep were being moved. Differing circumstances required a different response.

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  5. My grandparents had a cattle station in North Queensland. When we visited them as kids, our job was to get out and open the gates. It was a right-of-passage when you were old enough to get out and open the gate, especially when you were allowed to do it on your own. I was very disappointed when they removed most of the gates and replaced them with grids, although now as an adult I can understand why they did as it must have been very time-consuming for them having to do it on a daily basis. Thanks for the memories.
    Ros from Fangirl Stitches

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    1. Thanks for visiting. Impressed with your cross stitch work.

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  6. I love cattle grates - they make visiting a property so much easier - saves all that getting in and out of the car to open and close gates - especially when it's raining! Thanks for visiting my blog and I'll be back to read more of yours.
    Leanne | cresting the hill

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    1. They do make things easier but it was never a good idea to drop anything between them when we were walking home from the bus, some little things got lost in the depths!

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  7. My mother took over my father's Steel and Piping business when he died. Making gates was a big part of the business. First she cut the pipes to the required lengths with an electric saw. She would measure the pipes and bend the corners with a bending machine. Then we took them to a welder who joined the pipes into a rectangular gate. Back home I would help her lay the wire mesh across the gate and secure it with a tightening machine. All very labour intensive!

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    1. An enterprising hard working woman. You certainly have some inside knowledge of this topic. I just swung on them and opened and shut them. Thanks for adding your insights.

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  8. We had times when cities had huge walls and gates too and could be shut away from any intrusions right?

    http://jaishwrites.blogspot.sg/2017/04/atozchallenge-grass-green-and-greece.html

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    1. So true, but here I'm writing of my childhood memories.

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  9. Hi Carmel - I can imagine gates were an integral part of the 'estate' or farm for anyone farming and keeping stock etc ... lots of interesting comments from your readers - fascinating collection - cheers Hilary

    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/g-is-for-goose-gobbling-or-otherwise.html

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    1. Sometimes the comments are more interesting than the posts. :)

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  10. Reading your post, I realize we had no gates at our farm, Whispering Chimneys. It was just a big, open 10 acres. Maybe this was because we didn't keep animals (besides chickens...and that honking goose) and just used the fields for hay that was reaped and sold to neighboring farms.

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    1. We noticed this lack of fencing when we were in northern France. As far as the eye could see the crop fields were not fenced. Our farm and most of those in our local area were mixed farms for cropping, sheep and some dairy cattle so all paddocks were fenced. A plot of 10 acres would usually be considered a "hobby farm" in South Australia, either one maintained without expectation of it being the main source of income or one that is suitable for "back to basics" sustainability living. There is a large body of these small holdings working towards productivity.

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  11. When I worked on a farm in England during the school holidays one of my daily jobs was to go round and check that all gates were closed. Public footpaths crossed some fields containing sheep and cattle, but people still did not close the gates

    G for Green Gables http://bit.ly/2nVTDhZ

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    1. A perennial problem where the town/country divide and understandings present practical problems. Once a city based insurance assessor thought he could drive through a muddy paddock with no consideration of who would have to rescue his car once was it was bogged in the mud or of the damage he would do to the remaining crop.

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  12. Most of the gates to the pastures on my parent's farm were loose barbed wire between two wooden posts, one firmly anchored in the ground and the other loose to be connected to the next firmly anchored post with a loop of wire like you described. The gates from our yard to the vegetable garden were of white wooden pickets, as was the gate to my grandparent's yard which was on the other side of the barn and driveways from our house and yard. We did have a metal grate across our front drive way when I was very young, but that was later taken out. I'm not sure why, since stray cows found their way into our yard many times over the years after it was removed.

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    1. The grate is long gone from the driveway on this farm too.

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  13. I never lived on a farm, but I was in rural places enough to know the rule about leaving gates as you found them! It's still a valid reminder for those hiking or driving forest service or BLM roads and trails, which are often also grazing lands.
    The Ninja Librarian’s Favorite Characters

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    1. Had to look up BLM roads - for non-USA readers Bureau of Land Management.

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    2. Sorry about that--the chooks should have tipped me off, but I didn't tumble to the right setting until I read a second post. US has varied levels of public (government-owned) lands, but the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (also sometimes referred to bitterly as the Bureau of Livestock and Mining) lease a lot of land for grazing, so it's there that my travels have mostly intersected fences.

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    3. Not a problem, Google solved it quickly for me. I'm sure our various government departments that use acronyms also have a range of alternative interpretations. :)

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  14. Lovely photos. Black and white photos capture that moment in time perfectly.

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    *Deb Atwood*

    *Pen In Her Hand*

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    1. Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment.

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  15. I really enjoyed seeing the black and white photographs of life in the country side. They brought the story to life.

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    1. Thanks for visiting, glad you liked the photos.

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