A Tale of Pigs, Poo, and Pay

The Day I Left Kreber's Farm


Peter Pickering

5/5/20242 min read

Picture it: the year was 1965, and there I was, a strapping young lad at Leamington College For Boys. Times were tough and the piggy bank was looking rather sad, which is how I ended up on Jim Kreber’s farm, a stone's throw from our little cul-de-sac in Ettington in the picturesque Warwickshire countryside. The world of chickens and pigs was about to become my new reality.

Crack of dawn every weekday, you'd find me there, battling sleep at 5 a.m. to get all those chickens and pigs fed. It was a race against the clock to swap my farm duds for school clothes and catch the bus, turning up at school with the faint eau de poultry still clinging to me. Weekends? Oh, they were a real treat, jam-packed with the glamorous job of chicken poo shovelling and pig pen cleaning. Hard, dirty work, but hey, a lad's got to earn his keep – but a mere one shilling and sixpence an hour.

I was the model of farmhand diligence, clocking in those hours with the enthusiasm only a desperate teenager could muster. Then, as if the early mornings and endless muck weren’t enough, Jim decided to hire some new bloke in his 30s, a lazy oaf, who knew nothing, did half the work, and yet bagged five shillings an hour. You can imagine how that sat with me – about as well as a pig in a polo shop.

So, with all the courage I could scrape together, which was no small amount for a lad covered in farm filth, I approached Jim. My pitch? A raise to two shillings and sixpence an hour, half a crown. More than fair I thought. My voice might have been shaking, and my hands slick with more than just sweat, but I stood my ground. Jim, however, was having none of it – his "no" was as resounding as a cowbell at dawn.

Flabbergasted? Absolutely. All that graft, the ungodly hours, the artistic shovelling – and this was my thanks? I tipped my hat and left then and there. Looking back, Jim really dropped the ball. He lost a hardworking lad over a mere shilling and would now have to pay the inexperienced new guy double the amount I asked for to do the work I was doing. But me? I walked away with a lesson for the ages: the value of work and the importance of sticking up for yourself, even if you're knee-deep in, well, you know.

A recent photo of Kreber's 7 ½ acre farm in Ettington, selling today for £1,050,000, a small fortune built on underpaying workers.

A Tale of Pigs, Poo & Pay