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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 …

Tennis, tin-kettling and a telephone

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

Tennis Anyone for tennis? 
My father, his brother Joe and sister Mary had all played tennis in their youth in the 1920s. There are several mentions of the matches they played, won and lost in the newspapers of the time.

When we moved into our new farmhouse in the late 1950s a tennis court was constructed along one side of the house.

Sunday afternoons when the weather was clear, it was time for tennis. Uncle Joe, though of short stature at about 4 ft 11 inches, had a very mean slice and backhand. He made up for his lack of speed around the court by excellent ball placement. Games played were usually doubles to cater for a number of players. Often Joe would be at one end and Dad at the other with one or other of my siblings pairing with them. Some of my siblings also played in the local town tennis teams during summer.

Our racquets had heavy wooden frames with gut strings and were kept in screw down fram…

Sheep, sewing and saving

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A-Z challenge - My memories of life on the farm in the nineteen fifties and sixties Sheep Sheep were raised for the wool clip and were also sold to the abattoir at Pooraka, Gepps Cross on the northern outskirts of Adelaide. On the farm, the sheep were shifted between paddocks as they grazed and when little grass was about, they were fed with bales of hay. From a young age, we all learned to steer the truck while hay was forked from the tray.

During lambing season there would often be weak newborn or orphan lambs that we cared for at the house. As children, we loved having pet lambs and fed them from bottles. It was always surprising to return home one day later in the season and find that the pet lamb, now well grown, had been returned to the flock. Each Sunday Dad liked to go for an afternoon drive around the paddocks to check on the sheep, I always enjoyed these drives. Apart from milking cows morning and night that was usually the only farm work done on a Sunday. Sometimes the ful…

Rabbits and the rain gauge

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A-Z challenge - My memories of life on the farm in the nineteen fifties and sixties Rabbits Rabbits are a serious pest in Australia. They were brought to Australia as early as 1788 in the First Fleet and the first record of them appearing in South Australia is in 1840 when the ship Courier set sail from England for Port Adelaide with “a number of hares and rabbits…. to be turned out on their arrival in the colony.” 1

They were protected by legislation for gentlemen’s sport until 1864. It appears that the rabbits on Mr Dutton’s Anlaby station near Kapunda were turned loose at Julia Creek. Rabbits eat crops, dig burrows and destroy the arable land. By 1867 farmers were allowed to destroy them but they had spread far and wide. 2

On the farm, we used several methods to try to get rid of rabbits. The most exciting for a youngster was to go spotlighting. After dark Dad would drive into a paddock in the car and use a spotlight to focus on the rabbit. Once framed in the light it would be shot…

Quinces and the Queen

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A-Z challenge - My memories of life on the farm in the nineteen fifties and sixties
Quinces Quinces were the one fruit we never took from the tree. A raw quince is dry tasting and has an unpleasant furry skin. When they ripen however they can be used to make a variety of dishes. Mum made quince jelly which was a jam strained of fruit until only the clear liquid remained.

The cleaned and chopped quinces were boiled with a little lemon juice for about one and a half hours. When the fruit had cooled the juice was strained through a muslin cloth then boiled with added sugar. The scum was skimmed from the top before pouring into jars for sealing and labelling.

The left over quinces were somewhat dry but leaving nothing to waste, Mum would then make a cake-top pudding from the remaindered fruit. We also had stewed quinces with cream for a sweets course when our tree had plenty of fruit. Nearby neighbours had more quince trees so it was not unusual to process a large bucketful of quinces for…