John had moved to Whatley, in 1940, at age eight years, from Bradnich, near Collompton. His father, Harold Hammett, had taken over the tenancy of some 150 acres, on the Leigh House estate. This was a large undertaking by usual standards of the time, when most farms were 25-30 acres. It was necessary to employ three or four men to keep things going.
The early days of the tenancy were in the war time, when strict government controls on food production were enforced due to the pressures created by the war in the Atlantic, and the sinking of many ships carrying much needed food.
Only corn and root crops could be grown, in rotation. Farming was a reserved occupation, so men working in farming were for the most part excluded from conscription in to the armed forces or coal mining.
John met Pam at a Young Farmers event in the fifties, and they were married in 1955.
Pam also came from a farming family. Her father, George Saunders farmed a small-holding at Cudworth, which he bought in 1941. George had served in the army in the Great War, with the Devon and Dorset regiment, but was invalided out in 1916, enabling him to start his farming after he returned to health.
John worked with his father until 1955. He then took over Manor Farm with some fifty acres, which were used for dairy and beef cattle and some chickens . This was not without its problems. In the bad weather of 1964 , when Winsham experienced a heavy snowfall and freezing conditions, which cut off the village from the outside world for several weeks, the cows still needed to be fed and milked. John had to deliver the churns full of milk to the Dairy at South Chard himself. Water had to be brought up from the river at the bottom of the village. In very hot summers there were real problems in keeping the milk in churns cool for collection. This was achieved by covering them in wet sacking.
In1973, John and Pam moved to Manor Farm Cottage, where Pam's mother, Annie Saunders, already lived. In 1990 they built 'Paddock View' in Back Street, near the Market Cross, their present home.
Now, in 2019, Pam and John live quietly. They enjoy reminiscing. They remember, the days when all the cows had names, when there were regular rabbiting parties, followed by cider and games of cards. And buying sweets at Daisy Boait's shop. And the days when Dr Cosh-the local National Health Doctor up until 1970-used to come down to the Market Cross in his car. There would be a small queue . You would get into his car, tell about the problem, and he would write out a prescription. He might also have a quick look!
Dr Freestone took over from him, and after that things changed.