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Aussie Pioneers - 8. AP Chapter 8

“Firstly, we need to make up some more doors, for the outhouse, wash house, and three other rooms, as well as finish building the third part of the house. That means another few days of cutting down trees and splitting the wood into planks for the roof, as well as the doors and the window frames. I also would like to partially coverthe breezeway with a roof, with some gaps for sunlight,” I said.

“I want to make the vegetable garden bigger, since we have more people to feed, and also, Edwin mentioned that there is a demand for corn, so I want to make the crop paddock bigger so we can plant the next lot of corn, before the end of winter,” Archie added.

“We now have a proper plough, which will make that job a lot easier. Archie and I had to use the adze to break up the soil before planting, and that was after we had cleared away all of the shrubs that were in the way,” I said.

“Maybe while my brother and I are getting the wood for the roof, Mark, Adam and James can build a proper chicken yard, building a stone wall, maybe in one corner of the stock yard, where there is already a sheltered area,” Archie suggested.

“I think we can do that,” James said.

We had enough wood to make up one door frame and a door, which I decided should be for the wash house, so as to provide privacy for bathing and using the privy, which Florence was very pleased to have. Over the next two weeks, we had enough wood to build the roof for the third section of the house, as well as the now T shaped breezeway, with the roof having one-foot wide gaps, every 7-feet, to allow some shelter, but also some light as well, and also enough for all the door and window frames.

We also had all the walls completed, with an extra bedroom added for Archie. It was Archie’s decision to relocate the door to the outhouse around the corner from the breezeway, instead of from the wash house, so as to keep the stink away from the rest of the house, since his bedroom, would be the closest to it.

I was enjoying having a proper bath every few days, instead of just having a bucket of warm water and washing my body with a rag, and we were all enjoying the wonderful meals that Florence was providing. The other two Clydesdales were now in the paddock with the other horses, have being quarantined from the other animals, to make sure they didn’t carry any illness, and the wagon was also in the paddock, providing shelter for the sheep when it rained.

When the roof and floors were finally completed, Archie and I were able to move our beds with kapok mattresses into our separate bedrooms, and it was a delight to sleep on a comfortable bed at last. The two chairs, that I had bought on my first supplies-run were not needed in the kitchen area, so Archie and I had a chair each in our bedrooms.

With the house now complete, and now full with Archie & myself and the Applegate family of 4, Florence kept busy cooking, cleaning and looking after the vegetable garden for us, while Archie and I concentrated onbuilding a post and rail fence for another 40-acre paddock, and making the crop paddock another 10 acres bigger. In the mornings, after breakfast, while Florence cleaned up and did laundry, she made sure that her three sons were learning mathematics and learning to read properly.

After lunch, the younger two boys had chores to do, feeding the chickens, collecting the eggs and helping their mother collect vegetables for meals. For James, because he was a fair bit older, he was responsible for looking after the four horses, filling up the paddock water trough, giving them some fresh hay and oats each day, and helping Archie and me when needed.

The new paddock was to run along side the first one, with a short laneway leading to the stock yards. When completed, all the larger stock would be moved to the new paddock, to allow for the first paddock to recover, as it was now low on natural grasses, and I decided that for now, we would concentrate on making new paddocks for a while.

Florence had been soaking some oats, rolling them then letting them dry, and we were now enjoying having home-made porridge for breakfast each day. She was also making cakes and biscuits, as well as vegetable soups, and it was very nice having so much variety in our meals now.

After insisting that one lot of eggs be left alone, to see if we could hatch some chickens, we were pleased when we had 6 chicks hatch. The younger boys were especially very pleased about it. We decided to leave one nest alone, so we could breed more chicks to be sold in Ceduna.

We had harvested the last of the corn, and after de-cobbing them, we had two bags of corn ready to be sold.Archie had pulled up the stalks and begun planting some more wheat, to rotate the crop, as the books say it is best to not have the same crop each time.

As the weeks passed, the wheat and oats continued to grow well, and I was looking forward to the harvest at the end of the year. The vegetable garden was now producing a large amount of food, and Florence was busy preserving, making pickled onions, tomatoes & cabbage, and tomato and pumpkin relish.

We had a vegetable garden now doubled in size, with a wall around the new section, and this was now being planted with runner beans, pumpkins, melons, onions and potatoes. Next time I went into Ceduna, I was hoping to find some fruit, so that I could keep the seeds and plant them, as that was one thing lacking on the farm.

Nearly a month since Florence and Mark moved onto the farm, we were once again low on basic supplies, so we spent a few days preparing for the trip, with James once again travelling with me for this trip. Florence insisted that we take some of the preserved vegetables with us to try and sell, as well as a dozen freshly made damper loaves, 2 pounds of butter, 5 dozen eggs, some pumpkins, the two bags of corn, a bag of potatoes and for us she had cooked up some biscuits, cake, and a pot of vegetable stew that would last us two days.

With the buggy loaded up with all the goods to be sold, plus a water barrel, some hay and oats for Honey, we set off at dawn, for the journey to Ceduna. We chatted about things that needed doing on the farm, but as soon as we approached the track to the Applegate camp, James went quiet, and he didn’t speak until we stopped at around noon for a rest and short meal.

When we finally arrived in Ceduna after noon two days later, the town was busy as it usually was. Our first stop was to the grain merchant to sell the remainder of our corn.

Mr Cameron and young James, how are things going on the farms up your way?” the merchant asked.

“Good thank you, sir. We have two more bags of corn for you. That will be it till spring time. We will be doubling our corn crop with the next lot, since you said there is a big demand for it,” I said in reply, not wanting to talk about James’s father while he was there. Once again, we received a good price for the bags of corn, which I was pleased about.

“What other goods do you have with you this time?” the merchant asked me happily.

“Well, we have five dozen eggs, some jars of various pickles, a dozen loaves of damper, 2 pounds of butter, made three days ago, as was the damper, 4 large pumpkins, and a bag of potatoes,” I replied.

“Good. I will buy the lot from you. My wife will be very pleased,” the merchant said as he handed over more money for my goods, while James went out to retrieve it all.

“While the boy is outside, I should let you know that the Applegate family had a sickness on their farm, and they sent the older two boys to my farm to stay away from it. Eliza, their one-year old daughter died while I was last down here, and since then the father has also died, leaving Florence and her three boys on their own. We saw smoke when we were heading back and…”

“Where do you want this, sir?” James said when he entered the store carrying the eggs.

“On the counter thank you, lad,” Mr Harkins, the merchant replied, and we waited for James to go and retrieve some more.

Mrs Applegate, Florence, had buried her husband that morning, and she burnt all of their bedding, his clothes, and the tents they slept in. So, they loaded up their buggy, hitched up their wagon, and followed me to my farm, and they have been with my brother and I since, which in some ways has been good, as we have been able to do so much on the farm in such a little amount of time,” I continued. Just then James returned with the pumpkins, and I followed him out to get the rest of the produce.

“By the way, Mr Harkins, do you have any spare hessian bags, and maybe a milk can with a lid? Our cows are producing a lot of milk now that the two of them have calved. Oh, and next time I am down, I will have some chickens to sell, as I have six chicks that are currently 3 weeks old, and I will be breeding some more,” I said.

“Yes, I have a few hessian bags and empty packing crates too, if you can use them, and let me check to see if we have any milk cans,” Mr Harkins replied.

The merchant returned with 4 packing crates filled with folded hessian bags, and he went out back again and came back with two medium milk cans. “How much for all of that?” I asked.

“Nothing. We will just swap them over, when you bring some goods down on your next visit,” Mr Harkin replied.

“That sounds fair. Thank you,” I said and after we had all the produce inside, we said goodbye and set off to buy the supplies that we needed, and head back to the farm.

This time we would not have a heavy load, so like our trip down, it would only take us 2 ½ days to get back to the farm. At the general store, with all the extra people to feed, we bought extra of our usual supplies of tea, salt, flour, sugar, dried pork and beef, plus some apples, lemons and oranges, which would be a real treat. I also bought some seeds for melons, pumpkins, onions, potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower and carrots. When I enquired about trying to find small fruit trees, I was told that it was best to grow them myself from the dried seeds of the fruit.

I had written another letter home, which I dropped off at the post office, before we purchased some hay for the stock, and after loading it onto the buggy, we set off back towards the farm, having spent a little over two hours in Ceduna.

Plymouth Farm, Ceduna, South Australia - Dear Ma and Pa, I am only able to send you a letter every six to eight weeks, because our farm is so far out from Ceduna. So much has happened since my last letter. My nearest neighbours – the Applegate family, have had a very difficult time. They were hit with a serious sickness a few weeks after arriving on the farm, just south of our farm.

Mr and Mrs Applegate sent their two oldest boys up to our farm, so they would be well away from the sickness, as their daughter was very ill. Sadly, she died, and is buried under a large tree near their camp. They had a younger child who had died soon after they had arrived on the farm.

On returning from my second trip to Ceduna, with their oldest son, James, travelling with me, we called into the Applegate farm, after seeing smoke coming from that area. When we arrived, we learnt that Mr Applegate had died earlier that morning, and was buried under the large tree, and the smoke was a result of the all the bedding and all his clothes, plus the tents being burnt, to try and kill the illness.

I agreed to let the remaining Applegate family members move onto our farm, and after a period of separation from our stock, their horses were able to join the rest of the stock in the yards that we have built from the plentiful supply of limestone rocks in the area and timber from the local trees. We made post and rail fences for the paddocks.

At the moment we have two stock paddocks, that are 40 acres each, a crop paddock of wheat, oats and corn, that is also 40 acres in size, plus we have a good-sized vegetable garden with a fence around it. Mrs Applegate – Florence - is doing all of the cooking, laundry and gardening for us, while Archie, James and I work on the farm.

We had already built a main house consisting of a kitchen and dining room, and a bunk house that has three bedrooms, made from limestone rocks, clay, with a wooden roof, but now we have a third building with another two more bedrooms, a wash house and store room, with an outhouse behind the wash house. We are earning money from the first crop of corn we grew, and we have learnt that corn is in high demand, so we will grow a lot more after winter.

We have also been selling chicken eggs, butter and pumpkins on this trip. We have our first lot of chicks, which we hope to sell next time we go for supplies, with flour, tea, sugar, salt and dried meat being the only supplies we need now that we have a plentiful supply of eggs, milk and vegetables, and Florence’s cooking is keeping us healthy.

I must stop now, so I can post this, then we must be on our way to the farm again.

My love to you all,


Copyright Preston Wigglesworth January 2019 All Rights Are Reserved

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Another excellent chapter, this story is getting very interesting and very entertaining, thanks for all the back ground information. 

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Excellent chapter as usual. I’m glad that everything is working out for the Applegate family and there hasn’t been any more sickness since they lost their father to the sickness, and since they are now living with Edwin and Archie and assisting with the chores and work on the farm. I think it’s great that Edwin has worked out a deal with the general store to buy the goods that they bring in every six weeks or so, like this trip they had five dozen eggs, dampers, butter, pumpkins, preserved vegetables, and corn. It seems like they’re making a great start at life on the new homestead in Australia, they’ve had to enlarge the paddock for the livestock as well as the area where the crops are growing, and the vegetable garden as well.

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