The fictional Les Carrience is big enough to be called a farm but there are at least fifty
larger ones in the island in 1939.
An example of a small Jersey farm of the period
It has sixty vergees (twenty-five acres).
Thirty vergees are set aside for Jersey Royal new potatoes.
During 1939 the island produced its largest ever crop when 22,099 vergees were
70,000 tons were eventually lifted of which 67,738 were exported to the UK.
For comparison, during this period, Spain sent 14,700 tons and the Canary
Islands 6,900 tons of early potatoes though these lack the flavour of the
The new potato season is very short and is profitable only from April to June
during which time the family would hope to sell nearly 100 tons to the merchants at
the Weighbridge in St Helier. Prices vary from hour to hour and sometimes minute
to minute as the agents communicate with their buyers in the UK via telephone.
After the main crop is finished the best potato seeds are selected and prepared
over the winter for planting in the spring. If blight and colorado beetles can be
avoided then the family might make a profit the following year.
Ten vergees will be planted with hay and pasture for the twenty-two cows they
keep. Milking starts at seven o’clock in the morning and, with four pairs of hands,
takes over an hour to complete. Fifteen grains of bicarbonate of soda is added
per quart to stop the milk souring before it is decanted into churns for collection
by the local dairy.
The whole process, apart from the collection, is repeated at seven o’clock in the
evening. During the summer months, the cows are covered in a sacking coat and
tethered out in the fields for the night.
Seven vergees of wheat and broccoli are also planted along with enough
mangolds and turnips to keep the cattle happy.
The cows are easily pleased but Marcus Piavonius Victorinus or Victor takes a lot
of feeding to moderate his truculence.
The upper fields of the farm overlook St Catherine’s breakwater and Jack’s father
has constructed a shooting range so that he and the boys can practice for
competitions at the Jersey Rifle Association (JRA) butts at Crabbé.
From one corner of this field, there is a clear view of the slipway at the land end of
the breakwater. Though this is nearly 800 yards away, it is a relatively easy shot
for Aubin and his boys though they wouldn’t dream of firing into a public place!
This is a recent telephoto (300 mm) 6 x magnification taken from the firing point.
Jack’s family farm
This Short Magazine Lee Enfield (SMLE) is the rifle they would have used.