Once we had bought all the supplies that we needed, Florence, Mark, Adam and I set off back the way we came back to the farm, arriving just before dark, two and a bit days later. While Florence, Mark and Adam unloaded the supplies, Archie helped me with unloading the new furniture.
“I have good news. We have two letters from home. I have already read them, so you can when you are ready,” I said to my brother, as I retrieved the letters from my inside pocket, and handed them over.
Forgetting to help me, Archie raced off so as to read the mail, and in a way, I didn’t blame him for wanting to read it right away, while James came out and helped me with the two large lounge chairs, followed by the writing desk and the other three chairs and small low table.
“What is in this crate? … Oh, my goodness, how wonderful!” Florence said, when she saw the books in the packing crate. I smiled as I came up beside her and watched as she checked all the different books. “This is an extravagance that you shouldn’t have spent on, but it is wonderful though,” Florence said to me.
“I thought you might enjoy them, and it will be good for the children to learn from them also,” I commented, as I lifted the box and carried it into the living area of the house, where the bookshelf was located. “I think I may build some more book shelves along the far wall. That way each time we go into town we can buy a few more.
I am planning to build a study leading off the passage, on the opposite side to my bedroom, so this small book case can go in there, but for now my desk will have to stay in here too,” I commented, as the boys brought in the last of the chairs.
“I bought some fabric to cover these other two chairs, and stuff them with some wool for cushioning. Now you have two more I hope I have enough material for all four of them,” Florence said.
“Shearing will be happening in a few days’ time, now that we are back, and it is well into spring. We only have 40 ewes and 3 rams to shear, so hopefully it won’t take too long,” I said.
“I would like to clean and spin the wool if I had a spinning wheel with me. Maybe you can make one for me,” Florence said to me.
“Let me see if I can work out how one works. I may need to have a look at one when in town next, so I can work out how to build it,” I responded.
When the shearing was complete, taking Archie and I two days to so the chore, we had 43 fleeces with plenty of wool, and Florence got to work to carefully wash each fleece, and lay it out to dry, before storing them away in hessian sacks ready to be spun into knitting wool.
Over the next 5 weeks, we were kept busy with picking vegetables, helping Florence with washing them all and getting the tomatoes ready to make into a relish, and also drying some for use in the cooking. Archie and James helped me to build a study opposite the wash house.
When finished, my desk and chair were moved into the new room. We had built two shelves along the back wall of the living room, where all the books were placed, and so the original book case was now in my study along with the few farming books that I had.
We now had a total of 6 grazing paddocks, each one being 20 acres in area, along with 4 cropping paddocks with wheat, oats and corn, all of which were growing very well. The first batch of corn had now been picked and de-husked, bagged and ready for the trip to town to sell.
With it warming up a lot now, I had warned everyone not to walk around without boots on, because of the risk of snake bites, which can be deadly, especially when the nearest help is over two days away. With everything running smoothly, I knew it was time to make another trip into town, and I asked Archie if he would like to travel with me. He was very pleased to come along.
With supplies loaded on the buggy, along with all the produce that we would be selling, and Honey hitched up, and leaving Florence and her three sons behind to look after the farm, Archie and I set off for the 2 day journey into town. Once again, our first stop was the Mercantile store, where Mr Harkin was very pleased to see us.
“Edwin my boy, so good to see you, and this must be your brother Archie,” he said cheerfully.
“Yes sir, it is,” I replied.
“I have had many requests to know when you will be arriving with more of your produce, as it has become very popular. No doubt when they see your buggy they will be swarming in,” Mr Harkin stated, which made me chuckle.
“We nearly got trampled with all the customers that rushed in last time I was here,” I explained to my brother, as we placed a sack of potatoes, and a number of pumpkins on the counter, before heading out to the buggy once more, returning with a bag of corn each.By the time we arrived with the other 4 bags of corn, the two pails of milk, the butter, damper, and other vegetables, the whole counter was full.
“Well this is a very nice bounty. I better put some aside for us, before the local ladies arrive,” Mr Harkin said, as he wrote down everything in his ledger book, before taking one pail of milk, some butter and vegetables out the back for safe storage.
When he returned, Mrs Harkin was right behind him. I had only seen her from a distance the last few times I had been in the store. “This is my lovely wife Eliza Jane. Dear, this is Mr Edwin and Mr Archie Cameron, the brothers I told you about that farm in the north west region of the district,” Mr Harkin said making the introductions.
“A pleasure to meet you, Ma’am,” my brother and I said together.
“At last I get the chance to thankyou both for all of this wonderful produce. It has made life a lot easier for us,” Mrs Harkins replied.
“Go and fetch the special parcel,Dear. They will be keen to get a move on,” Mr Harkin said to his wife and she rushed off to the back of the building, where we presumed they had their living quarters.
When she returned, she had a huge smile on her face, and I wondered why until I saw movement behind her, and a boy stepped out and moved around her. It took me a few moments to register that the boy that I was looking at was my younger brother, Simeon, but Archie recognised him right away.
“Simeon! Oh, how wonderful to see you,Brother,” he said, as Archie raced around the counter to greet him, and I followed close behind.
“Hello,Brother. How are you and when did you arrive here?” I asked Simeon.
“Hello, Edwin. I arrived on the ship yesterday. Mr & Mrs Harkin have been kind enough to look after me till you came. They said that you were due any day now,” Simeon replied, as the three of us hugged.
“Thankyou for looking after our little brother, Mr and Mrs Harkin. What do we owe you for expenses?” I asked.
“Nothing, me lad. It has been wonderful to have a child around to spoil. Unfortunately, we cannot have children, so it has been a real pleasure having Simeon staying with us,” Mr Harkin said while Mrs Harkinnodded her head in agreement, tears flowing down her cheeks.
“I will make sure he comes with me, each time I come into town, so he can visit you,” I informed them and Mrs Harking smiled broadly at this news. Once we had settled on the price for all of our produce, we turned to leave, and just then the door opened and 6 ladies came rushing in.Grabbing Simeon, I stepped back to stay clear, and Archie did the same, as they rushed to the front counter, eagerly looking at all the produce on the counter. I gave the Harkin’s a wave goodbye, and we made our way outside.
“Wow, are they always like that?” Archie asked me, once we were safely outside.
“Yes, they are. Our produce has become quite popular in this town, and at this rate we will be doing very well from the demand,” I replied, as we stepped up to the buggy and climbed onboard.
“We will come back for your luggage, once the crowd has died down in there. We also we have some chickens to sell, but first we need to buy a bed and mattress for Simeon here,” I added. After buying furniture for Simeon, we went to the book store, where Mr Hiltz was pleased to see me again. He informed me that he had put some books aside for me.
Archie and Simeon had elected to stay outside with Honey and the buggy, while Mr Hiltz retrieved a crate of about 20 books. I saw a mixture of fiction, poetry, and also some books on animal care and farming. “Wonderful, Mr Hiltz. I will take them all thankyou,” I said happily, knowing that it wouldn’t be long before I would need to build another shelf in the living area.
As I stepped outside with my new purchases, I saw that my brothers were deep in discussion. “What is all this going on?” I asked curiously.
“Simeon is just asking what it’s like on the farm. He is just a little scared that it is so far out from town,” Archie said to me.
“Did you mention the others on the farm?” I asked, and Archie shook his head no, before facing Simeon and telling him all about the Applegate family, and how they had suffered with the sickness, and their pa and two sisters dying, but now them living on our farm as part of our family.
Archie went on to explain that apart from Honey, we had chickens, two dairy cows, 2 calves, 40 ewes, 3 rams and 42 lambs, plus the Applegate family had two Clydesdale horses and one other horse, and that Mrs Applegate was a wonderful cook, and our house had a lot of their furniture in it, as we just had some basic furniture.
We went to the post office next, and once the horse had been secured to the hitching post, I retrieved my writing pad and ink, to write a letter home.
“Plymouth Farm, Ceduna, South Australia
2nd December 1912.
Dearest Ma and Pa,
I am back in town, and I have Archie with me this time, and boy,were we surprised when Simeon stepped out from behind Mrs Harkin, the Mercantile owner.
We had no idea that you were sending him to us. He arrived the day before we came into town. Thankfully the Mercantile was the first place that your friends called into when they arrived, and Mr and Mrs Harkin were thrilled to be able to look after Simeon till we came to collect him.
Our produce that we bring into the Mercantile each time, has become very popular amongst the town’s folk, so much so, that they cause a stampede into the store each time. I had to quickly grab Simeon and pull us both away from the stampede of women. Simeon is fit and healthy from his long journey here, although he is concerned about the farm being so far out.
We have told him about the Applegate children, and we hope that he will become friends with them. Simeon is two years older than the oldest Applegate boy – James, and Adam is 8 and Mark is 5. Luckily we recently builta study onto the house, so that will have to become a bedroom now, but that is not a problem. Apart from Adam and Mark sharing a bedroom, everyone else has one of their own, with the Applegate family in one wing of the house and us in another.
The farm is doing very well now. Both Archie and I have become quite strong from all of the hard labour that we do each day, and even started getting a good tan, now that spring is over and summer has begun.
I look forward to hearing from you again soon.
Love from us all, Edwin”.
With the letter finished, I let Archie and Simeon read it, before taking it to the post office to send it on the next ship for England. With that done we headed back to the Mercantile shop to collect Simeon’s luggage, before we bought all of our supplies and headed back to the farm.
“Oh good, you are back. I thought you may have forgotten about his luggage,” Mr Harkin said when we all stepped inside.
Copyright Preston Wigglesworth January 2019 All Rights Are Reserved