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The ram’s head and the rock playground

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A visit to the farm Time flies and the past slides into the distance. After my series of A-Z posts in April, I enjoyed a week’s visit to South Australia. This chance to catch up with family brought more shared memories, photographs and reminiscences of times past. With my brother I toured the farm 2017 style, looked at additions and changes that time has wrought since I lived there as a child.

A visit to the sheds revealed that, amongst other treasures, the ram’s head I mentioned in Making merry and other muck still hangs in the shearing shed 50 years later. The lower jaw is missing as is the wire my brother had rigged to move the jaw up and down just as friends glanced upwards to view the light source. At the time, much amusement followed as there was speculation about how much drink had been consumed at the 21st birthday party that was in progress. “Did that jaw really open and close?”

In the sheds, evidence of my father's labour. The hand built walls from creek gravel and ceme…

Zero, nought, nothing

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A-Z challenge - My memories of life on the farm in the nineteen fifties and sixties
Indoor games In the game of Scrabble, the letter Z is one of the highest scoring letters worth 10 points. Mum loved to play Scrabble and so did I. It was a game we often played, recording the scores and keeping a tally of who had won the most games. If one was lucky enough to get a Z and use it with either a double letter score or a triple word score square, one was well on the way to victory. Scrabble is more challenging with multiple players and competition was fierce as we all aimed to better Mum. She kept the dictionary nearby to check up on any questionable word one wanted to use.

Noughts and Crosses was always an excellent time filler. On the backs of envelopes or scraps of paper, many games were quickly scribbled and contested.

Monopoly The aim of this board game was to collect as much money and as many properties, houses and hotels, as possible. Probably the lingering memory of Monopoly is the ca…

Youth

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A-Z challenge - My memories of life on the farm in the nineteen fifties and sixties
Rural Youth Clubs As early as 1949 there were plans afoot to introduce a program in South Australia that would emulate the young farmers' organisation in the UK. By December of 1951, a supervisor had been appointed by the Department of Agriculture to oversee the formation and promotion of Rural Youth Clubs. The early aim of these clubs was ‘to interest young people in both the city and the country in the agricultural way of life’ 1

The first senior and junior clubs were established at Clare in the mid-north of South Australia in 1952.  Fifty-five young farmers attended the first Rural Youth week at Roseworthy College in August of that year. Clubs were established at Kapunda and Freeling and by October of 1953 there were 30 clubs in the state. 2  The clubs were for both male and female, city and country. Statewide competitions and exchanges between the clubs were introduced. Rural Youth organisation…

Some eXtras for X

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A-Z challenge - My memories of life on the farm in the nineteen fifties and sixties
Extra! Extra! Read all about it the newspaper boys called as they touted their wares on street corners. I have a few little extras that did not fit into the main edition of A-Z posts. Sugar in hessian bags Sugar was bought in 70lb hessian sacks. The bag was put on the pantry floor with a scoop in the bag to access the sugar for jam making, preserving and everyday uses. The hessian sacks were put to a great variety of uses once they were empty. They could be used to store potatoes or onions, used to carry tools in the boot of a car or in the back of a ute, and sometimes cut up to use for children's craft or sewing projects. Chop picnics Before there were barbecues there were chop picnics.  Sometimes on a Sunday, the car would be loaded with a loaf or two of bread, mutton chops from a recently killed sheep, the thermos for tea and a picnic rug. The occasion may have been a birthday or Dad’s cousins v…

Waiting and washing

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A-Z challenge - My memories of life on the farm in the nineteen fifties and sixties
Waiting I spotted the old dentist equipment in the picture above in a London museum, it brought back the waiting room agony I suffered as a child. The walls were thin in the dentist’s surgery and the loud noise of the drill created a dread of expectation. We were taken to the dentist every six months and with poor teeth, there was often a filling to be done. Mr White, the dentist would cheerily approach and ask “Now who is going to go first?” He had so many gold fillings, his mouth almost glowed. I don’t ever remember volunteering to be that child but I’m sure there was more agony in the waiting than the actual treatment. The needles used to numb the mouth were huge. Do you remember them?

Waiting for an injection at the doctor’s surgery was just as bad. Crying children emerging and a distressed mother reassuring me that it wouldn’t hurt. The doctor did offer a jelly bean after an inoculation to pacify …

Vegetables, verandas and the magic Vegemite jar

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A-Z challenge - My memories of life on the farm in the nineteen fifties and sixties Vegetables We had a large vegetable garden with beans, carrots, turnips, swedes, onions, potatoes and pumpkins. In summer there were watermelons, strawberries, tomatoes, beetroot and lettuce. As the pumpkin vine spread, we would look for those that grew hidden under the large leaves. The pumpkins were a large blue variety that kept well for months on end. They were stored on the tank stand just at the edge of the back veranda. Onions and potatoes were picked and bagged and stored underneath the concrete tank stand in the cool dark space. Thinning the carrots was a favourite task as we got to eat the tiny sweet ones fresh from the garden. We ate potatoes and pumpkin and a third vegetable with our meat most nights. Vegetable soups warmed our winters.
Verandas Our house had three verandas. At the front of the house was the red polished concrete veranda surrounded by a low wall ideal for seating. Mum was v…

Udders and unders

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A-Z challenge - My memories of life on the farm in the nineteen fifties and sixties
Udderwise The cows were milked morning and night but before milking their udders were washed. Once the cow was penned in the milking shed a clean pail of warm water and a cloth was used to wipe over the udders before the suction cups of the milking machine were applied. Cows would usually stand contentedly but occasionally a cantankerous beast might try to kick. If there was very little milk to be had, or when the herd was small, a cow was sometimes milked by hand. I remember trying this once or twice but never successfully.

We always had fresh milk, in fact the fridge was often overflowing with milk so milk puddings and custards were frequently on our menu. At school when the free milk in little bottles was delivered many of us disliked it, it was not the day fresh milk we were accustomed to.

Cream, yes lovely thick cream, separated from that milk over in the milking shed, there was plenty of that so …