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Aussie Pioneers - 4. AP Chapter 4

Happy with what I had achieved, I jumped back onto the buggy, and continued the journey in a south-easterly direction for the town of Ceduna. It was quite lonely travelling on my own, but it was the only way to get supplies, and for the stock to be well looked after, as they were essential to our survival.

I was a little surprised when I arrived in town in 2 days. I went straight to the blacksmith shop first, and asked if I could have 2 pounds of builder’s nails, and ½ a pound of fence staples ready before I left in a days’ time. I also asked if I could have a small hammer, that was easy for hitting the nails into the wood.

With that order made, I headed to the stock supply store, where I put in an order for some stock hay, wheat, two steel buckets, and some fencing wire, some wire cutters, and two pairs of gloves. I saw iron water tanks available for sale and I ordered a 500-litre tank as well, and some steel piping and fittings to attach to it, plus a hand water pump and a boiling copper.

Next, I headed to the general store, where I ordered flour, sugar, tea, soap, some more rope, an empty water barrel, a large canvas ground sheet, and I was even able to order 100 litres of tar, so that I could make the roof water tight. I would need to heat it up to get it to the right consistency, before applying it to the roof.

I even found some dining furniture, with a small table and two chairs for Archie and I to sit on, plus a food safe and storage cupboard. I also found some window panes, to allow more light into the house. I arranged to pick up this order last, before heading back to the farm.

As I was eating my evening meal, in the only hotel in town, I managed to write a short letter to our family back home near Plymouth.

Plymouth Farm, Ceduna, South Australia, 29th April 1912 - Dear Ma and Pa, I am sorry that I have not written earlier, but we have been very busy trying to establish our farm. It is a lot bigger than we desired, but it is beautiful country. The open skies are amazing during the day and at night.

We arrived in the port town of Ceduna on March 9th, and we spent less than a day picking up supplies, before heading off north west to our new farm. By horse and buggy, the journey takes around 4;days to complete, and this is my first trip back to Ceduna to get supplies, while Archie stayed on the farm to mind the animals and to do some work.

He is a very hard worker. I know you would be as proud of him as I am. I must go now, I have just finished my supper, and I have lots to do before I start the journey home to the farm tomorrow. My love to you all, Edwin”.

It was late afternoon the next day, as I was loading up the last of my supplies, and almost ready to leave, when I heard a man speak.

“Well I be! Are you not the young man that has a farm occupation license up in the northwest corner of this region? Err, Cameron, isn’t it?” the man said to me after I turned around to face him. I recognised him as the man who issued the license to me.

“That is correct, sir. You issued me that licence nearly two months ago,” I responded.

“And from what I see here, you are heading back out that way?” the man asked.

“Yes, sir, my brother is minding the farm while I am away for 4 days. It took us nearly a week to get there, as the stock were slowing us down a fair bit, but with just the horse and buggy, I have been able to make the journey here in just 2 days,” I replied.

“Well good for you, young man. How are you coping out that way? Been getting any rain?’ the man asked.

“Yes, sir. We have a well now, and it has a good amount of water in it. We have 20 acres of crops in the ground, and a good size vegetable patch as well, and lambs about to drop any week now,” I said.

“By the way, you will have neighbours fairly soon. Two of the properties south of you have been selected, and they will be heading up that way in the next few days or so. They know that you and your brother are up that way, so they may call in at some point,” the man said to me, as I did a final check of my load on the buggy before climbing onboard.

Thank you for letting me know. I will keep an eye out for them. Goodbye for now, sir,” I responded and I flicked the reins to get Honey started on our trip home.

“Who is that young man?” I heard a women’s voice ask, but I didn’t hear any more of that conversation as I headed out of town.

On my first night, it rained heavily, and luckily, I had everything that didn’t need to get wet underneath the canvas, and I lay on my new canvas sheet, under the buggy, with Honey hobbled and standing nearby under a tree, covered with another canvas sheet that I bought especially for her to keep her warm and fairly dry.

The next day, it was clear and sunny, and the warmth made Honey eager to move faster, but I didn’t want to over-work her, especially with some on the heavy load onboard. So, we went at a nice steady pace, especially when there was no set road or track to the farm yet, only the one that I had been creating, as I was following the buggy tracks from my two previous trips.

After just over 4 days on the road, I was pleased to be home again, arriving at the boundary fence soon after 4pm. I saw the posts that Archie has been installing in the ground along the boundary line. All of them were fairly straight, and I noticed that they were spaced closer together than I expected. I climbed off the buggy and paced out the distance between two of the posts, and worked out that they were 700 feet apart, which was fine by me. It was just a lot of work for my younger brother.

Not seeing any sight of him, I continued north towards the homestead, before I saw him sitting on the fence watching the animals. When he heard the buggy, he jumped down and raced towards me, with a big smile on his face.

“Hello, Edwin. Boy am I real pleased you are home. I was getting very bored being here on my own,” Archie said to me happily, and I smiled as I climbed down, while Archie began to unhitch Honey. He took her back to the stock yard, where he gave her some hay.

Archie helped me to unload everything that was on the buggy, once it had been secured to the tree, and once that was done I was given some fresh damper and billy tea.

“In the wood crate, you will find some nice surprises,” I said to Archie who dashed over to where the crate was. He peered in and pulled out two jars.

“Jam and honey! What luxury! Where did you find this?” Archie said happily.

“Some ladies in town had a fundraising store, and so I bought a few jars of preserves, as well as some freshly made scones for my supper that night,” I explained.

“Scones! Aw, you could have saved some for me,” Archie complained, and that made me laugh.

“It is alright. They gave me the recipe, so you can make some yourself. I also bought a small butter churn, so we can have our very own butter,” I said.

“Fantastic! I look forward to that,” Archie said, all smiles.

“By the way I like what you did with the boundary fence. There was no need to have to put in an extra post, but it does look better, especially when we will soon have some neighbours on our southern boundary,” I said to my brother.

“Thanks. It wasn’t that hard really. Have you met them yet?” Archie replied.

“No, I only met the man who I spoke to at the Colonial office. He told me about it,” I responded, and Archie just nodded his head in understanding.

“What else have you been doing while I have been away?” I asked.

“Well, I have started building a fence around the vegetable patch. Then I want to build one around the crops as well,” Archie said to me.

“Well, you have been busy. I don’t blame you for taking a rest in the afternoon. I have some fencing wire with me, so maybe we can use that for around the crops to keep the sheep and cattle out, if they ever escape the yard,” I replied.

“Actually, I have been letting the sheep out in the morning, so they can do some grazing, and they have been coming back to the yard in the late afternoon. It seems they know that it is a safe place to sleep overnight,” Archie informed me.

“Well, that is a good idea, but make sure they only graze on the grasses, as some of the shrubs may be poisonous for them,” I said.

After a short break, we got to work with installing door and window frames, for the house, so we could finish building the house, and the next day we headed back to the grove of trees, this time to locate a thick tree, that would be used as the main centre beam to run the full length of the house to support the cross beams, and then the planks would be placed on top of that, and the tar used to seal the spaces between each of the planks.

It took us two weeks, but it was finally completed. We now had a house with a water tight roof, and the basic furniture that I had brought back with me. The food safe fitted nicely in the corner, close to the fireplace for easy access, and we even had plenty of planks left over to have a solid wooden floor, to keep the dust out.

For now, we stored all of the stock feed in the house to keep it out of the weather, since it had been raining on and off for the past few days. With the house now fully completed, we got to work to build up the height of the stone walls on each corner of the stockyards, so they were at least six feet high, and when that was completed, we built wooden roofs over each corner, sealing each join with tar, to make it water tight, and the animals were now happily able to shelter from the rain.

The crops and the vegetable garden were all looking very good, with a good amount of germination for everything that we planted, and I was looking forward to enjoying some of the vegetables when they were ready. Once the stock shelters were completed, Archie suggested that we make a start on the second building, but I was more interested in expanding the stock yards, and making a start of the fence to protect the crops.

Archie had spent all of his spare time finishing the fence around the vegetable garden, with a two-foot high stone wall, and a two-foot post and rail fence on top of it, which we could easily climb through to get access to it, for weeding the garden and for harvesting when they were ready.

We ended up deciding that once I had completed the foundations, Archie would work on the second building, while I worked on the expansion of the yards, and that is how it happened. We had enough wood to build the window and door frames, which I helped Archie with, and he did all of the stone work of the building, which was ten feet from the front of the main house, allowing a nice roomy breezeway between the buildings, with both of them having the single sloping down outwards.

We had to make a few trips back to the grove of trees to cut down and split some logs for the roof of the second building. We did all of the splitting down near the grove, so it was easier to handle the wood. On returning from our last trip to the grove, we were quite surprised to find a sulky standing at the side of the house with the horse standing in the shade.

As we approached the side of the second building, a lady carrying a toddler, with another child standing next to her appeared from between the two buildings. She smiled as we pulled up and pulled on the brakes.

“Good afternoon. How may I help you?” I said politely, as I approached, leaving my brother to start unloading the wood on the back of the buggy.

“Hello. My name is Florence Applegate. This is my youngest, Eliza. She is 3 this month, and the second youngest, Mark, is 5,” the lady said.

“My name is Edwin Cameron, and that is my younger brother Archie, I said following on with the introductions.

“It is a pleasure to meet you, young man. Are you both alone, or are your parents away at the moment?” Mrs Applegate enquired.

My brother and I travelled to South Australia on our own, and we are establishing this farm, in the hope that our parents and siblings will join us in the near future,” I replied.

“I see. Well, from what I have observed so far, you have done a remarkable job,” Mrs Applegate said.

Copyright Preston Wigglesworth January 2019 All Rights Are Reserved

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Chapter Comments

I agree this is an excellent chapter. I’m pleased to see that Archie got a lot done in the time Edwin was gone to get the needed supplies. The fence posts were in as well as starting to build a fence around the vegetable 🍅 garden. Once they got the wagon unloaded they got busy finishing the fence around the garden area, increasing the fence around the pen areas and putting a roof over a corner of the pens so the livestock had somewhere dry to get out of the rain, they finished the house when they came back from getting more wood they saw some ladies around the house and when they started talking the ladies asked if they were here alone while their parents were off some where else on the property. Edwin explains that they had traveled alone to  Western Australia to establish their farm with hopes that the rest of the family would join them later. Great story I’m enjoying it very much and I’m learning how much work it took to get any kind of homestead established.

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57 minutes ago, Butcher56 said:

I agree this is an excellent chapter. I’m pleased to see that Archie got a lot done in the time Edwin was gone to get the needed supplies. The fence posts were in as well as starting to build a fence around the vegetable 🍅 garden. Once they got the wagon unloaded they got busy finishing the fence around the garden area, increasing the fence around the pen areas and putting a roof over a corner of the pens so the livestock had somewhere dry to get out of the rain, they finished the house when they came back from getting more wood they saw some ladies around the house and when they started talking the ladies asked if they were here alone while their parents were off some where else on the property. Edwin explains that they had traveled alone to  Western Australia to establish their farm with hopes that the rest of the family would join them later. Great story I’m enjoying it very much and I’m learning how much work it took to get any kind of homestead established.

South Australia, not West

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   The lady that was at the farm when the brothers returned with the new wood, Mrs. Applgate, did not mention whether she was a resident to the south or to the west and also did not say anything about others living on her farm. That is a little unusual, I hope it does not bode ill for our friends.

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