Eat your porridge and you will soon be hopping gates
There is a British supermarket ad for porridge currently running on TV which involves a pair of pretty typical weather-beaten farmers chatting at a field gate. I think it is really good, in a chirpy cheeky sort of way.
The ad taps into one of the two main roles of field gates. While the first obviously concerns controlling livestock, that is scarcely more important than being something to lean on while chatting without having to make eye contact. As anyone who has tried it will vouch, leaning on an electric fence just isn't quite the same.
If field gates could talk, what stories they could tell. Not just the above conversations but about the farmers who have climbed them, the children who have climbed through them, the livestock and machinery who have passed by.
One of the first things a child growing up on a farm learns to do is negotiate a field gate. They work their way up the sets of bars until they day dawns when they finally climb over the top. Every occupation has its milestones and this, along with the first time to drive a tractor on your own, is one of farming's milestones.
Even in this safety-conscious age, farmers usually climb gates and nothing screams that you don't know how to climb a gate properly than mounting it at the latch end.
In the above ad, the gate is made of wood which, presumably because of the damp climate, would be rare in this country.
What we have instead are all sorts of metal gates, from the solid iron ones that have stood the test of time to some modern ones which I heard described as "only good enough to keep two fields of barley apart."
Many iron gates were traditionally located at the mid-point of the hedge between the two sides of the field, which might have made sense where there was plenty help to move stock.