a calf in the sitting room…
Memories of a farming
life in Wales
Updated Second Edition
When her parents were killed in an accident in 1946,
a year after the end of World War Two, 17-year-old
Sheila Collins (later Barry) left her job at a factory
in Ipswich and escaped to rural west Wales to live
with her aunt and uncle, Madge and Cecil, at Penrallt,
the farm they had just bought and ‘retired’
It was a very different life from the one she had
known, but she took to it like a duck to water. The
ancient farmhouse had neither electricity nor piped
water, and the sheds and byres were full of horses,
cows, and pigs, each with their own name and personality.
Sheila immediately became part of the Penrallt community,
where her slightly eccentric family of in-comers learned
to farm with the help of experienced locals.
In There’s a calf in the sitting room...
Sheila lovingly recalls daily life on the farm in
the forties and fifties, when farming was almost organic
and primarily horse driven. Episodes are retold with
humour and affection: descriptions of getting in the
hay and corn harvests and of the old, horse-drawn
implements; sending favourite cows to market and enticing
pigs to slaughter or the boar; tussles with calves
wandering in and out, and cow muck just about everywhere.