With James and I having a short stop in Ceduna, we arrived back at the farm at the end of the day, 2 days later, and everyone was pleased to see us back with them. Once we had stored away all of the supplies, and fed Honey, we all gathered for dinner in the dining room, and we were told of what had been happening while we had been away.
Two days later, it began to rain heavily, and it continued to rain for nearly 9 days straight, so apart from James and I feeding the animals daily, everyone remained indoors, to avoid getting influenza, and this made everyone very restless. I decided that we needed more room in the house, so I suggested to my brother, that we build a fourth building at the other end of the breezewayas a large living room, and to include a fire place to keep us warm. Archie thought it was a very good idea.
When the rain finally stopped, Archie, James and I set off with the wagon to collect some more logs for the roof and doors and windows for the new section of the growing house. When we returned, I got to work to split the logs into planks, while Archie and James began collecting the rocks needed to build the walls of the new section of the house.
With everyone’s help, we had the whole new section built in 3 short weeks, and apart from the pianola being relocated to the new living room along with the two spare chairs, there was no other furniture inthere until our next trip into town, where I planned to buy some lounge chairs, a floor rug, some book shelves and some books, and some panes of glass for the new windows.
I was pleased now that we had a good-sized home with all our extensions. After assuring Florence that she and her sons were most welcome to stay on our farm, I suggested that sometime in the future, we would begin to clear some of their farm land, so that they could grow some crops on their land.
With Spring now set in, and just the occasional shower of rain, we were all very busy planting new crops, and tending to the growing number of animals. I was wanting to continue with clearing more land of low shrubs, leaving the bigger trees standing to provide shade and shelter during hot spells and storms, so that we had some more grazing paddocks for the animals.
With the extra food that we were now growing ourselves, I felt that we didn’t need to go into town as often, so instead of going every four weeks, I decided to make it every six weeks, and Florence assured me that we had plenty to get us by for the extra two weeks till I brought more supplies.
As well as us making the extra paddocks, using post and rail fencing, I was also working on making the house a lot more liveable, by having doors at the end of each of the breezeways, so they became passageways, and laying down wooden planks to create proper floors, so as to keep the dirt out of the house.
As well as the doors, Archie and I had built a passageway from the breezeway to the outhouse, so we all didn’t have to step outside to get to the privy, which Florence was very pleased about, plus we fully covered the roof over the breezeways, so it was now all fully enclosed, as one big house.
When it came to time for another trip to town for supplies, I suggested to Florence that she and her twoyoungest join me for the trip, so that James and Archie could continue with working on the new fences. Florence’s face lit up in surprise and happiness at my suggestion, and she gladly accepted the idea. She spent the next two days keeping busy preparing for the five-day round trip to town and back.
On the journey into town the boys were very chatty the whole way, with the exception of when they passed the dirt track to their former family campsite. Florence slept on a mattress in the buggy, with a canvas over the top, to keep the dew off her, while the boys and I slept under the buggy in our bedrolls.
When we finally arrived in Ceduna, we stopped off at the Mercantile store first to drop off all of our products that we wanted to sell, including 11-week old chickens, 6 dozen eggs, pumpkins, onions, tomato relish, pickled relish, butter and a sack of potatoes. Word must have got around the town about our produce, as the shop was soon full of women wanting to buy items that Florence and I had brought inside.
When the rush was finally over, Mr Harkins smiled and leaned against the counter. “Well Mrs Applegate, it is wonderful to see you at last. Young Edwin here has kept me up to date on what is happening, and I am sorry to hear of the loss of your second daughter and your husband.
“How are you settling in with Edwin and Archie? No doubt the extra hands on the farm is a big benefit for them both,” Mr Harkins said to Florence.
“We are doing well now, thanks to our generous neighbour, and thankyou for your condolences. It was a terrible shock, but comforting knowing that my three boys are alive and well, and doing very well working on the new farm. The house that Edwin and Archie have built is wonderful,” Florence responded.
“Excuse me, I have a letter I wish to write and post. I will see you and the two boys down at the general store. Just look out for the wagon, and I will be close by,” I said to Florence, before making my way outside.
My first stop was to the blacksmiths, where I made an unusual request, asking him to make a steel ring, and measuring my small finger, hoping that it would be small enough for what I had planned.
Next, I retrieved my writing pad and ink and wrote a quick letter to home.
“Plymouth Farm, Ceduna, South Australia –11th October 1912.
Dearest Ma and Pa,
So much has happened since my last letter. The Applegate family have settled onto our farm well, and we have extended the house to make extra room for them, with an extra two bedrooms for Archie and myself at the other end of the house. We also have a living area, that is not furnished yet, but I hope to buy enough furniture to fill it with this trip into town.
This time I have Florence and her two youngest boys travelling with me, so Archie and James can continue with building the fences to the new paddocks. The breezeways between each of the four sections has now been closed in with a full roof, and doors, plus a passageway down the side of the wash house to the outhouse, so it is now indoors, and all the floors are now wooden planks, to keep the dust out of the house.
I am sending you some funds. Can you please use this money to buy and ship some more sheep out to me? I would like three Exmoor Rams and 40 Exmoor Ewes. I feel that having a mixture of breeds will be beneficial in the long run. We are growing plenty of crops including vegetables. The extras we sell here in town, to pay for our essential basic supplies.
I hope that all the family is well, and I hope to receive a letter from you soon. Give my sisters and brothers a big hug from me. 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,
When I had finished writing the letter, I headed to the post office, so it could be sent to England on the next ship.
“Mr Cameron, how good to see you again. I am pleased to say that I have two letters for you, from the home country,” Mrs Hinchey, the Post Mistress said when I stepped inside.
“I have a new letter for you to put on the next ship too please, Mrs Hinchey, and I am so glad to finally have some mail from home. It has been nearly 9 months since we arrived here, and I am so looking forward to hearing news from home,” I replied.
After completing the task at the post office, I lead Honey to a furniture store, where there was a mixture of old furniture from England and parts of Europe, and new furniture created in a large workroom out the back.Knowing I still had to buy food supplies, I knew how much I could spend on furniture, and decided to just get the basics - two comfortable lounge chairs, and two more old dining chairs, plus a newly madesmall table and a writing desk and chair.
Once I had made my purchases, I loaded them all into the back of the buggy, and tied them down with the rope I had brought with us, then headed over to the general store to buy all of the basic supplies that we need for the next eight weeks or so.
Just before the general store, I spotted a book store across the road, and I tied Honey up to a rail, and walked across the street and entered the book store.
“Good day to you, sir. I have not seen you about before. Are you new to town?” the elderly bookstore owner asked.
“No, I come into town every 4 to 6 weeks, as my brother and I have a farm 2 days ride north west of town. My name is Edwin Cameron,” I replied.
“Ah yes, I have heard about you and your generosity in helping your neighbours in their time of grief and sorrow. It is a pleasure to meet you, young man. My name is Ernest Hiltz,” the elderly man said, and we shook hands.
“I am in need of some books to fill my new book case, and I wonder if you have any Lord George Byron, maybe something from Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters and Charles Dickens,” I asked.
“Yes indeed. I also have some books from Chaucer, Becket and Keats as well,” Mr Hiltz replied, and he raced around his small shop locating the books that I had requested plus some others.
In all I ended up buying a total of twenty books, some of it poetry, others were plays, but all were great pieces of literature, which I hoped to use to improve the boys’ education. With all the books stacked into a wooden crate, I loaded them into the buggy, hidden away underneath the furniture, to keep the moisture off them, before entering the general store, where Florence and the two boys were already ordering supplies.
“I see you have bought only a few items of furniture. I am glad of that, as I think we don’t want to over crowd the room, even if it is quite large,” Florence said to me in a whisper.
I was planning to wait until I arrived home before reading the letters, but I decided to take a quick look at them just in case.
“5th July 1912
It is so good to receive your 1stletter from you. Now we know where to write to you, we will write regularly. I am so glad that all is going well for you both on your farm. We are all so proud of what you have managed to achieve in such a short while.
Your brothers and sisters send their love to you both, as do we. Times have been a bit of a struggle for us, with your pa coming down with influenza, which had him bed ridden for nearly two weeks, which put a great strain on our finances, but thankfully he is well again and working hard to keep us well fed and the little ones continuing to attend school.
There is talk that we may have to deal with a much greater peril soon, and that is war, and it has both your Pa and I in deep worry. We have discussed it often after the little ones have gone to bed, and we are at loss on what to do, but please do not worry about it, as it is far from your shores.We miss you both greatly, but your lettergives us hope for a better future for us all. Write again soon.
From your loving Ma and Pa”.
I smiled at what I had read in the first letter, and I opened the second one.
It is so good to receive your 2nd letter from you. There is a ship sailing for South Australia tonight, so I must be fast with my writing, so I can get this letter to you.
I have been informed that journeys to South Australia, take from 6 to 9 weeks to complete, so I am hoping that it will reach you for your next journey to Ceduna. Pa has been putting money aside, so we can invest in some more sheep for you in Australia. Pa asked me to ask if Exmoor sheep are a good breed. What do you think?
As well as sending sheep, your Pa and I are considering sending your brother Simeon to you. We know of a family that will be travelling to South Australia soon, and we may send him with them. I know he is only 13 years old, but he is fit and healthy, and we think he would be a great help to you there on the farm.
Please let us know soon, so we can organise it, if you agree.
Our thoughts are always with you,
your loving Ma and Pa”.
Copyright Preston Wigglesworth January 2019 All Rights Are Reserved