Making merry, mud and other muck

A-Z challenge - My memories of life on the farm in the nineteen fifties and sixties

Making merry

Celebrations played a central role in my childhood. The obvious birthdays, Christmas and Easter were pivotal points in the calendar. We had family birthdays to be celebrated in January, April, May, July and August. There were two in September and one each in November and December. Our bachelor uncle lived nearby and as he shared many meals with us, his birthday in April was also cause for celebration. That was a lot of birthday cakes each year. Mum made these, usually a double layer sponge filled with homemade jam and delicious whipped cream. This was served as the sweet course after the main meal at night. The birthday candles were recycled until they were too short to light again.

Celebrations were the only time that we had fizzy drinks. The choice was often lemonade or creaming soda. Adults might drink beer on a special occasion but my father’s favourite tipple was a small glass of port. Mum sometimes had a sherry shandy, sherry with lemonade. In later years drinks such as Barossa Pearl and Cold Duck made their way to the table.

Twenty-first birthdays were the only birthday parties and these involved both friends and neighbours. Some of these were barn dances. Our barn was cleared and cleaned, the floor polished then sprinkled with sawdust to make it slippery enough for dancing. Hay bales or bagged grain was used for seating at one end. We decorated with crepe paper streamers and matching coloured balloons. A musician or small band was employed for the evening and a sumptuous supper of homemade treats followed the dancing. An alternate venue when the barn was full of grain was the shearing shed. Here the wooden floor had been saturated over many years with the lanolin from the sheep's wool. The addition of sawdust created a good surface for dancing. For one sister's 21st birthday party in 1967, my brother rigged up a bulb inside a sheep's skull to light the shed.

Conga lines were fun and a progressive, change partners dance number was usually included.  Novelty dances sometimes included an elimination statue dance, no movement allowed when the music stopped, or a lucky spot dance. By the end of the sixties, the Beatles music was popular along with the dance crazes of the time.

At 21st birthday parties, a large wooden key was presented. Guests at the party would sign their names inside the key as a record of those who had attended.

Mud and other muck

Mud, mud, not so glorious mud. Mud bogged vehicles and animals alike.  Rain was welcome but also brought muddy shoes and clothes. As children, we loved to play in the creek and capture tadpoles to watch them grow into frogs which we then released back into the creek. Muddy shoes were unavoidable when walking to or from the bus on rainy days. At the edge of the veranda, there was a boot scraper to remove most of the mud. Dried mud was removed from brown school shoes with an old blunt knife. Boot and shoe polishing was done outside on the back veranda.

In a farmyard one always had to be careful not to step in animal muck. Cows. hens and pigs and provided plenty of manure to act as fertiliser in the vegetable garden. At the conclusion of milking time morning and night, the muck was shovelled if firm or hosed away if of the more liquid variety.

Next N - Nettles, nasties and netball

13 comments:

  1. It sounds like fun but there was a lot of hard work involved too. Your Mum's cakes sound delicious. My mother only ever made fruit cake but she was pretty good with desserts of the rice pudding variety.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had lots of rice puddings too as there was always plenty of milk. Mum made dark fruit cakes for Christmas and Easter and boiled fruit cakes throughout the year.

      Delete
  2. Your mud memories are similar to what my mother tells me, I've written about them for the A to Z from my Conversations with Mom at.... https://everyonehasafamilystorytotell.wordpress.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have been over to visit your blog, great memories from your Mum.

      Delete
  3. It all sounds like fun to me....particularly the catching of tadpoles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That did occupy us for hours as well as turning over pebbles in the creek. The poor tadpoles were kept in glass jars but eventually returned to the creek.

      Delete
  4. Hi Carmel - as Alex says ... sounds good to me. Wonderful home life - lots of fun, yet lots to do and work to be finished ... your parents sound practical sorts ... birthday cake for desert - makes sense! Cheers Hilary

    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/m-is-for-melton-mowbray-market-national.html

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sounds like a great home life. Where did you live? It sounds as if you could have been in Africa someplace. Happy Easter! M is for Marketing Methods as you Build a Better Blog. #AtoZchallenge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a great home life in rural South Australia.

      Delete
  6. Love the imagery here and sure wish I could have attended those barn dances. I did go to similar ones at a county fair as a teen. There's something magical about dancing in a country setting that clubs and dance studios just can't match.

    ReplyDelete
  7. As children, we don't mind the mud so much! It is much easier living on a farm at that age.

    Stephanie
    http://stephie5741.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. What the life of a child should be. I also enjoyed mud and catching frogs, as well as beaches and camping. I did not live on a farm, but as a child I always wanted to.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Yes, any farm child has memories of muck. Our morning chores when not in school were cleaning the muck out of the barn and herding the cows to their pasture. What better way to learn the pleasures of work and making clean!

    ReplyDelete