James was now softly crying, and I wrapped one arm around him for comfort. “I am sorry for your loss, Mrs Applegate. Your two older boys are very well, and are being a great help to us. We boiled their clothes and bedding when they arrived, so as not to bring any sickness to our farm,” I said to Mrs Applegate. “We have brought you some fresh water, some dried meat and 4 loaves of freshly made damper. I will leave them here for you to collect after we have left,” I said.
“We appreciate that. We have been very low on food the last few days,” Mrs Applegate said.
“I love you, Ma. Please stay well, and say hello to Pa and Mark for me,” James shouted.
“I will,Son. I hope you are being good and helpful for Mr Cameron and his brother,” Mrs Applegate said.
“They are being a great help, Mrs Applegate, and well behaved,” I said in reply, as I hopped down and untied the barrel, before carefully lowering it down to the ground. I grabbed the crate and put it next to the barrel.
“We will call by again in 6 days’ time,” I called out before I waved. James also waved, as I turned the buggy around and headed back the way we came.
“Are you ok, James?” I asked after about ten minutes of silence. James sniffed loudly and wiped away some tears.
“I think so. I didn’t think it would be this hard living out here,” James replied.
“When we come by again in six days, after we have dropped off more water and food, we will continue south-east to travel to Ceduna to buy some more supplies. We should have a corn crop by then which we can sell in town. I will save some for us and some for your family too,” I announced to James.
“I wondered when you would be harvesting the corn. It is looking nice and tall,” James said.
“That it is, and it will definitely help with our income, as money is getting rather short now,” I said.
We stopped when we reached the boundary fence again to give Honey a rest and another drink of water, and we had a bite to eat of dried meat and damper before we set off again for the last part of our journey. When we arrived back at the house, James helped me to unhitch the buggy, and take Honey back to the paddock, where the cows and sheep were happily grazing.
Archie and Adam were in the vegetable garden pulling up weeds, and they waved when they saw us approaching.
“Hello,Boys. How is the garden looking?” I said as we approached.
“Great,Big Brother. We will have a first crop of tomatoes and runner beans early next week, and the corn is almost ready to harvest as well,” Archie replied.
“We will need those hessian bags to store the corn in, once the seed has been removed from the cob. We will take some to the Applegate family and sell the rest at Ceduna. I am hoping we can get a plough that Honey can pull, so we can plough the fields more easily, and we can grow more crops,” I replied.
“Eliza died a few days ago. She’s buried near that big tree near the camp,” James said sadly. This news had Adam start crying, as he rushed into his brother’s arms for comfort.
“Shh now, we have to be brave. We are the oldest in the family. Pa is still real sick, but Ma and Mark are both fine.We had to stay well away from the camp, so we don’t get sick too, but we talked to Ma from a good distance, before dropping off the water and food for them,” James said softly to his brother.
That evening, as we ate our dinner, the Applegate boys were very quiet.
“I think you boys will be staying here a lot long than we thought. So, tomorrow I want us to start work on building another extension to the house on the east end of the breezeway, with another 11-foot space, to allow air flow between the buildings.
“This one will have the laundry and washroom, at one end, a store room in the middle and a 4th bedroom at the other end, which will be my new bedroom. This way you boys don’t have to share.
“When James and I go to Ceduna next week for food supplies, we will come back with a plough and some more furniture for each of the rooms. I will try and get some water troughs for the stock yards and paddock, and some more farming tools,” I announced.
“Do you want me to make up plenty of damper to take with you, for your trip and for the Applegate family?” Archie asked me.
“Yes please,Brother. As many as you can the day before we leave,” I replied.
For the next five days, we all worked hard, with just the Applegate boys helping me on the fifth day, as Archie was busy in the kitchen baking damper, making a total of ten loaves in the one day, which I thought was quite an achievement. We had started on building the third building, also we had harvested 60% of the corn, and taken the corn off the cob, bagging it ready to be taken to Ceduna.
The night before leaving, I loaded up the buggy with a full barrel of water, some for the Applegate family and some for James, Honey and myself for our 4-day round trip, and in two packing crates, I had potatoes, tomatoes, some cabbages and runner beans, ½ a pound of freshly made butter, 4 dozen eggs, a bucket of fresh milk and half a bag of wheat for James’s family, and the horses, to help them get by, till we came back from Ceduna.
At dawn the next morning, I harnessed up Honey and attached the buggy, had a quick breakfast of tea and damper, before James and I set off on our journey. About 2 ½ hours later, we approached the Applegate camp, and I stopped where the barrel was still sitting, where I left it.
I looked in and saw that it had about 3 inches of water still in it, which wasn’t much, and the empty packing crate sat next to it, which I lifted onto the buggy, before unloading the full crate, which included 6 loaves of Damper, and all the vegetables that we picked yesterday, and the half bag of wheat.
After untying the rope, I moved the barrel of water, so it was level with the barrel on the ground, I carefully tipped it, so the water poured into the near empty barrel, until it was ¾’s full, and secured the rope around the barrel on the buggy again.
“Hello, Ma. Are you there?” James called out and Mrs Applegate quickly appeared.
“Oh, James!It’s good to see you again.Hello, Mr Cameron. Thankyou for the delicious damper. We have been enjoying it very much,” Mrs Applegate said in reply.
“Hello there. How are things with the sickness?” I asked.
“My husband started to get well again, but he has fallen ill again, and this time it seems to be worse than before.I have kept Mark well away. As you can see I have relocated his tent, and hecollects fire wood and keeps it burning,” Mrs Applegate said.
“I have left you with some extra water, along with some fresh damper, butter, eggs, milk and vegetables,” I called out.
“Well, you boys have been very busy. I am so thankful to you for helping us this much, especially with looking after my two oldest boys,” Mrs Applegate said.
“It is my pleasure, Ma’am. We best be off as we have another 2 days of travelling to get to Ceduna. We will see you in five days’ time with some more supplies for you,” I replied, and gave her a wave, before turning the buggy around. James waved to his mother as we left the camp.
It was about half an hour later when we had turned onto the track heading for Ceduna, that I broke the very long silence.“Did you arrive in Ceduna on a ship?” I asked.
“Nah, we arrived in Adelaide last year, and stayed there for about a month, before we travelled to Ceduna by wagon and buggy. Pa steered the wagon, with all the furniture, with my brothers, while I steered the buggy with the luggage, Ma and my sisters,” James replied.
“I see. That must have been quite a journey,” I said.
“Yeah it was. Rough as guts in some places, so we had to go slow,” James replied.
“I noticed most of the furniture is still on the wagon,” I stated.
“Yes, Ma wanted it to stay on there till we get the house built, but Pa had only just starting cutting the wood for the house before he got sick,” James said to me.
It was 2 ½ days later when we finally arrived in Ceduna, and it looked like that the town was now starting to get quite big. Our first stop was to the grain merchants, where I wanted to sell our four large bags of corn. I was very pleased with the price that I got for the corn, as it was in big demand.
I assured the merchant that I still had some more to harvest, and that we would plant a bigger crop next time. “What else are you growing on your farm, young man?” the merchant asked me.
“Apart from vegetables for our own use, we have wheat and oats for our horses, dairy cows and chickens,” I replied.
“Did you bring any eggs?” the merchant asked, sounding hopeful. “Yes,Sir. I have three dozen with me,” I replied. “I will buy those off you also, please young man,” the merchant said.
Our next stop was to the farm supply store, where I found a good size double blade plough, which I purchased, along with two scythe tools for harvesting the crops, four more kerosene lanterns and a small drum of kerosene and then I spotted the cooking stove, which had a 4-foot high smoke flue pipe.
I asked how much it was, and I was pleased that I could afford it. The salesman gave me a kettle and a skillet as a bonus, plus some more canvas and ropes. The salesman helped me and James, to load the plough and stove onto the back of the buggy.
Next, we rode through town looking for a furniture shop, as I wanted to by some beds, so we were not sleeping on the floor all the time. James said that they had beds at their camp, so he suggested that I only get beds for Archie and myself. I also bought some cupboards and a bookshelf. With all of those purchases made, and with just food supplies to go, we decided to leave that till the morning, before setting off back home, so we found a tavern where we could get a good meal.
With Honey unhitched and tied to the wagon, on the edge of town, we returned to the wagon with some hay and oats for Honey to eat, and we set out our bedrolls under the wagon, for our overnight stay in town. The next morning, we had a breakfast of hot tea and damper, before we hitched up Honey to the wagon, and made ourway into town to buy more food supplies.
This time, I bought an extra amount of flour andsugar, as well as salt, tea, preserved meats, and some bags of wheat, oats and corn, which were quickly loaded onto the wagon, after which we set off again, leaving in the mid-morning, homeward bound, with a short stop at the Applegate camp, to drop off some supplies.
It was late on the 1st day, of our return trip, that James noticed some dark grey smoke in the distance, but we could not go any faster with the huge load that we had on the wagon. When we stopped just before dark for our last overnight camp, we were closer to the smoke, but it would be another half day at least before we reachedthe Applegate farm camp, and James was starting to look very worried.
When we finally turned onto the track leading to the camp, there was a small amount of smoke coming from the direction of the camp. When we arrived, we saw why there was smoke. The wagon with the buggy loosely attached behind it, since the horse was over at our farm, was standing near the water barrel and crates. Where the campsite was, there was now a low pile of burnt tents, and other things, with Mrs Applegate and Mark standing nearby.
Glancing at the nearby wagon again, I noticed some luggage trunks had been loaded onto them. Mark walked towards them but stopped a few yards away. “W… we buried Pa this morning. Ma says she is going to ask if we can stay at your place for a while,” Mark said to me nervously.
“Of course you can Mark. It will be nice to have some more people on the farm, and there is plenty of work to be done… I am sorry that your Pa died,” I replied giving him a comforting smile.
“Thankyou, Mr Cameron… Edwin. I don’t know what I would have done, if you hadn’t taken in my boys and now us,” Mrs Applegate said as she approached, stopping next to Mark.
“That is not a problem, Ma’am. We are a new farm and all the help will be appreciated,” I replied.
“Please call me Florence. I am not that much older than you, as I gave birth to James when I was just 17,” Florence said to me. I was a little surprised at this news, and I quickly calculated her to be 28 years old.
Copyright Preston Wigglesworth January 2019 All Rights Are Reserved