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Aussie Pioneers - 7. AP Chapter 7

“Very well, Florence, now I will have to insist that your two horses and the wagons remain well away from the rest of the animals, and that the clothes you have been wearing and your bedding be boiled, and that you bath, as soon as we arrive on the farm. I have some canvas here that we can use as a privacy screen,” I said to Florence.

“I think that is a very good idea. Shall we go now. There is nothing left for us here now. We burnt all of the bedding and all of my husband’s clothing, plus all the tents, after we buried him this morning,” Florence said to me. Then she instructed Mark to climb up onto the seat on the wagon, and she followed.

“You know the way. We will be behind you once we collect the packing crates and the barrel,” I said and Florence waved as she encouraged the two Clydesdale horses to go.

We caught up to the wagon just before our southern boundary, and when we reached the fence line, I called out that we should stop to rest the horses and have some lunch, which Florence was glad of. When we arrived at the farm, I left James to unhitch Honey and take her to the paddock, while I went looking for my brother and Adam. It wasn’t until I heard them chatting that I found them behind the partially built new building, where they were digging a small hole which looked to be quite deep.

“Hello there,” I said and I saw Archie jump with fright. I chuckled at seeing this. “Where is Adam? I heard you talking to him,” I asked, and Archie pointed down into the hole.

“Hello, Adam. We are back. My word, you are a long way down,” I said noticing a rope hanging down into the hole.

“This is going to be our new outhouse, so we can have privacy when using the privy,” Archie said as he began pulling Adam back up.

“How deep do you think it is?” I asked.

“At our last measure just before lunch time today it was 16 feet. We have been working on it most of the time since you have been away,” Adam said. He turned when he heard a noise and saw his Ma and Mark approaching. “Ma, what are you doing here?” Adam asked.

“I am sorry, Son, but Pa died this morning, and we buried him next to your sisters. We had to burn all of the tents and bedding, so as not to bring the sickness here,” Florence said, which made Adam very upset, and James went to him and wrapped him in a tight hug, and let him cry.

“Right, Florence and Mark. Let’s get you sorted, and then you can settle in,” I said to our additional guests.

Quickly Archie and I started heating up water in the copper, then set up a canvas screen when the water was hot enough. Mark first, then Florence, bathed behind the screen. I gave them some clothes to wear until their clothes had been boiled.

We attached the short ropes from Bronte and Byron, their two Clydesdale horses, to a long rope which was stretched out between two solid short trees, to allow them plenty of movement, before giving them some hay and water.

“Now that I know the names of your Clydesdales, I am starting to see a pattern. Your buggy horse is Dickens, so I am presuming you named him after Charles Dickens, and Byron I am presuming is after Lord George Byron. So, tell me, where does the name Bronte come from?” I asked Florence.

“From the Bronte sisters of course,” Florence replied smiling, and I laughed.

“Well my Clydesdale is called Honey, because she is such a sweet horse,” I said, which made Florence laugh.

“Very original. Now, tell me, Edwin, what can we do to help you and Archie on this wonderful farm of yours?” Florence said.

“Well, while we were away, the boys have been busy digging a very deep hole for a privy, and as I so happen to have some piping for that purpose, not knowing they had started on my idea, we will soon have a working outhouse. This new building will have a laundry wash house. You see we already have a boiling copper, and now an adjoining outhouse. The middle room will be a store room, and then at the other end will be my new bedroom,” I said to Florence.

“We have one double bed and three single beds, which our children were going to be sharing, but now… well they can each have a single bed,” Florence said.

“Well that will be helpful. I have a double bed and a single bed that I purchased on this trip, plus a bookshelf and dresser table and cupboards for myself and Archie. We currently have three bedrooms in the south wing, which you and the boys can use. Archie and I will camp in the other wing until the third building is completed. We will need to add another bedroom to that,” I replied.

“We have not touched the furniture on the wagon since we arrived at our camp, so it should be free from any germs,” Florence said.

“Good, then we will start on unloading your furniture into the house. What else do you have?” I replied.

“Well, a dining table with 6 chairs, a kitchen dresser, my set of dinnerware, cutlery, a large cooking pot, knives, ladles, serving dishes, tabletop lanterns, our beds, my bedroom dresser and stool, the family mantle clock, a tin bath tub and I have a pianola too.

“Well that is quite a lot. Lets go inside and see what we can do to fit it all in,” I said, surprised at how much they had with them. Florence followed me into the kitchen and dining room, to see what could be done.

“I hope you don’t mind if I take over cooking duties,” Florence remarked. “Well, this is a good size room. I think if we push that table and chairs over against that wall; it can be used as the work area. The kitchen dresser which can be used for the dinnerware, cutlery and other things can go on the opposite wall near the front door.That way we have plenty of room for the dining table and chairs, and at the other end we can have the pianola,” Florence added after a quick look around.

We spent the remainder of the afternoon, unloading the wagon and carrying everything to the house. Archie and I packed up our trunks and bedrolls and put them in the breezeway for now, so as to make room for all of their beds. Florence would have one end bedroom, James the other end bedroom, and Adam and Mark would share the middle room, with each bed having a rather heavy kapok-filled mattress.

Before dark, Archie and I were looking at the outhouse hole, and after some discussion, we decided that it should not be used until it was finished, which would be done in the morning.

Once the kitchen was in order, Florence went to work to produce a nice stew, using dried meat, and fresh vegetables from the garden, and we all sat around the enormous dining table to eat together for the first time, with two table lights lighting up the whole dining room area.

After dinner, we all headed to bed, after a long and tiring day, with Archie and I setting up out bedrolls in the breezeway. At sunrise the next morning, Archie and I were up. We lowered the ladder down the hole, which was only 2-feet wide, before locating a plank of wood, and cutting it into two 3-foot lengths. Then using one of the steel pipes that I had recently bought, that were 8 inches in diameter, we marked on the two planks the centre of the planks, and on one side we traced around half of the edge of the pipe on each plank.

Using the saw, plus a hammer and chisel, we cut out the half circle on each plank, using a wood rasp to make it as round as possible, to finish it off. Checking it against the pipe, we were pleased to see that it was a snug fit on both planks, and with one of the pipes having two 1-inch holes about 2 feet from each end of the pipe, we made four pegs, each one being 3 inches long and 1 inch thick, with one end sharpened, and we jammed these into each of the four holes.

Once this was done, I lowered Archie down into the hole, along with a roughly made hand shovel, with a 4-inch long and 2-inch wide blade, and a 3-inch narrow handle, all made from one piece of wood, that Archie had made to use for digging around the vegetables and weeding.

What Archie had to do was to dig a slot into the wall of the hole, 10 feet from the top of the hole, so that the two planks of wood could slide into place, so it created a well to hold all of the privy waste. The pipe would slide into the hole, when the planks were brought together, with the pegs holding the pipe in place. Once this was done, the hole could be filled in, up to ground level. Then a wooden floor would be laid just underneath the second lot of pegs. We would then make a privy bench seat, to make it comfortable to sit, and a lid to keep the smell to a minimum.

We had decided to leave an opening along the back wall which would also to help keep the smell away from the house. It took Archie about two hours to carefully dig out the slots and put the wooden planks into place. When he had done that, he stood on one plank, about 7 foot above the floor of the hole, and lifted up the ladder. Then he moved the plank into place to close up the gap.

Once that was done, I lowered the pipe down the hole, and Archie, guided it into the hole of the planks, making sure it was a tight fit, before he climbed up the ladder. We looked down at what we had achieved in a short time, smiled and shook hands congratulating each other on our outstanding achievement. We then pulled up the ladder, and carefully began to fill in the hole, making sure that the pipe remained straight.

After about half an hour, we had the hole about ¾’s filled, when Mark and James appeared. Why are you filling in the hole?” James asked me looking a little annoyed after all of his hard work of digging it.

“Don’t worry, my friend, we have put some planks down there to create a holding tank. That is why we have this pipe here, so that the waste will go straight into the tank,” Archie replied.

“Are we expected to sit on that pipe when we need to go?” Mark asked, which made Archie and I laugh.

“No, young man, we will be making a bench seat, with a hole in it, so you don’t get a cold bottom,” I replied, which made Mark blush a little. “Before we finish filling the hole we will need to put some posts on either side of the pipe for our privy seat,” I commented, and Archie nodded his head in agreement.

Maybe we can do the same thing as we did with those two planks down there,” Archie suggested.

“Good thinking. You get started on that, and I will go and find some posts. Don’t use the privy until we have finished, ok?” I said to the boys, as we left the half-built extension with the doorway into the outhouse.

“Mum says that breakfast is ready,” Mark announced, so we all headed to the main part of the house, washed up and sat down at the table.

“By the way, Florence, James and I brought back something that you will really like,” I said.

“Oh, and what could that be?” Florence replied.

“A wood stove with an oven,” James replied happily.

“That is wonderful news. Now I can do all sorts of baking, instead of fighting with this cooking pot all the time,” Florence replied smiling broadly.

We will install it straight after breakfast, then we must finish the outhouse, which is nearly done,” I said, as Florence put out some damper, fried eggs, and milk, along with the butter and jam.

“Wow, what a feast! We are being spoilt here, Edwin,” Archie said, and I chuckled at my brothers comment.

By the end of the day, we had installed the new wood stove in the kitchen, with the flue going up the chimney, we had finished filling in the hole for the privy, with two posts buried 3-feet down, being 1-foot above ground, with two spaced cross-planks, and then the privy seat on top. We had used the rasp to smooth the edges around the inside and outside of the seat, and a piece of canvas was used as a temporary doorway for privacy, with Florence being the first to use the outhouse.

During dinner, which consisted of dried meat, fried potatoes, carrots and cabbage, Florence asked what the plans were for the farm, now that the outhouse was completed.

Copyright Preston Wigglesworth January 2019 All Rights Are Reserved

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I second what Jeff said. I too am enjoying this story and look forward to the next chapter. The farm is really starting to come together as they are doing all that they can to get everything established. 

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