As a child who grew up on a diary farm I know the importance of a reliable supply of electricity. It seems extraordinary to me that on the farm when there was storm and tempest that our electricity supply was more reliable than it is now in many suburban areas. Cows suffer badly if they are used to being milked twice a day and then don't get milked, so every dairy farmer has a plan B in case of power failure. As far as I can recall, on our farm plan B only came into action twice, once mid milking when all the cups fell off the cows' teats.
I recall the first time that the power went off Father backed the tractor, the Fordson Major, into near the vacuum pump and the tractor had a spinning wheel at the side of it. A belt about 15cm wide was put onto the spinning wheel to the vacuum pump. Yes, no Occupational Health and Safety back then. The cows were milked. It was very brief period in my memory when the milk was put into large and battered cans. Not long after taking over the farm Father bought a large refrigerated vat with the most interesting to me stirring mechanism. I remember the truck collection parking place was higher than the vat, so the milk must have been pumped by the truck into its vat, rather than it being a gravity feed.
The second time power was off at milking time was when we had a new John Deere tractor. It did not have an exposed spinning wheel, only a power take off. I don't know how it worked but the power take off was rigged to run the milking vacuum pump.
That the electricity supply in the bush was so reliable is remarkable and a credit to the government owned State Electricity Commission. If the supply did fail, it was repaired very quickly. Now with privatised power delivery, people in Melbourne suburbs can wait for a day for power to be reinstated after bad weather has caused the system to fail. God knows what dairy farmers do.
These memories all flooded back as I was staring at the live time power price graphs being displayed in the Hydro Discovery Centre in Cooma. The government owned New South Wales power supply was paying heaps for power back to the private generation companies of Victoria and Queensland. In the days of the aforementioned SEC, it was the role of the government owned authority to generate sufficient power at a reasonable cost and keep the electricity system reliable. How the world has changed.
Anyways, as my grandpop used to say, back to the Fordson tractor. I have ascertained that it was a Fordson E27N Major and it was a curious beast. It did not have as starter motor and had to be crank started. It was started on petrol and then switched over to more economical power kerosene.
Here is a photo by Hugh McCall. You can see the wheel that would spin and power things by a belt. My memory tells me it was on the other side of the tractor, but I think this is an English model, so maybe it is different, or it could be that childhood memories are not reliable and perhaps the SEC was not as good as I remember it to be either. Ours did not have headlights or tailights. I expect they were snapped off.
Looks like an inconic grey Massey Ferguson in the corner of the shot. I don't think the plentiful Fordson was iconic to Australians.