Plenty of peas

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

Pigs, pine trees, pens, penfriends, practice, plums, peaches and peas. So many Ps, a plenitude of choices. We had peas in a paddock, pigs in pens, pine trees along the driveway with plums, peaches and pears in the orchard. Photos were taken but the film was expensive and one would sometimes wait months before the roll was finished and sent for processing.

Pigs

My brother received two mated sows for his sixteenth birthday. Imagine our excitement when large litters were born. The pigs were “large whites” and sometimes had up to thirteen piglets in a litter. It was difficult to prevent the sows from rolling onto and squashing one of their litter. Clean straw had to be added to the pens regularly, cleaning out the pen before adding fresh straw was a really smelly job. Thank goodness I never had to do it. Once the pigs started to grow the pen could be opened into the small paddock where they often proceeded to roll in the mud. Pigs were bred for the market for several years.

Pine trees

My father planted a row of pine trees along one side of the driveway and named the property, Pine Creek. At this stage, there was no town water supply on the farm and he watered and tendered those trees carefully until they were established.

Pens and penfriend

After several years of practising one’s letters in pencil at primary school, we graduated to pen and ink. The school desks had a hole where the inkwell sat and after carefully dipping the nib in, one started to write. It was difficult to get the right amount of ink on the pen and a blotter was used to soak up the extra ink blobs on the page. If a person pressed too hard there would be a hole in the paper or the nib would split and be ruined. One wrote slowly and carefully. I remember the excitement of getting my first fountain pen. It had a removable cartridge which could be refilled. The end of the cartridge was carefully inserted into an ink bottle and ink drawn up into it like a syringe.

While I was still at primary school I had a penfriend in New Zealand. Her name was Helen Uhlenberg from Taranaki in the North island. We had practised writing letters at school and once the letter was deemed acceptable we rewrote it on good paper to be posted. It was very exciting to receive a letter from someone far away in a different country.

We also practised our penmanship by writing letters to the Five Stars Club which was the children's page of the Southern Cross newspaper and several of us had letters published there over the years. Letter writing practice was an excellent preparation for boarding school where each Sunday night we wrote a letter home to our parents. Mum wrote to me every week at boarding school without fail. I wish I had some of those letters now.

Next Q - Quinces and the Queen

Comments

  1. I think it is great that you and your mum wrote so regularly.
    In primary school we were all meant to have our teacher assess our hand writing thought we were ready in order to graduate to having our 'pen licence'. Near the end of the year, the teacher commented on me using a pencil still, and I replied that she had never given me my licence... she had just forgotten, and was like 'oh yeah, of course you can do that'

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    1. No doubt by then you were forming your letters P for perfectly. :)

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  2. What a challenge to learn to use pen and ink properly! We weren't allowed to use pens in the younger grades, but when we did graduate from pencil, it was to ball point pens. I'm afraid I would still make many messes with pen and ink.

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    1. My writing now is very poor, years of using computers, I rarely put pen to paper.

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  3. Hi Carmel - I thought you were going to talk about rows of peas in a veggie garden - still I enjoy your pea post! We had Poplars at the bottom of our garden, not pines - but they were on the sandy soils of the heathland in Surrey ... Pigs we had them after the war - never had them since! Pens -and trying to write properly ... I changed my writing when I was about 14 - fatal! I write quite neatly with a pencil - but a pen is a nightmare!!! Cheers and thanks for my happy remembrances - Hilary

    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/p-is-for-pigs.html

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    1. Ha! trying to keep the titles interesting you see...We did eat those appalling tinned peas most of the time except when Dad had planted a paddock full of peas for stock food and to be ploughed in after picking to enrich the poor soil.

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  4. This is a wonderful thing, to preserve memories of such a deep value. I really enjoyed these memories.
    Put a Little Love in Your Heart
    Annie at ~McGuffy's Reader~

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    1. thanks for visiting. Your P post certainly reflects my thoughts too.

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  5. Thanks for sharing your memories. So fascinating how much things have changed--and so fascinating to remember how life was not so very long ago. I used to write my mom and dad when I went away to camp in the summer. They must have written me back, but I don't remember. Now my Mom, in her mid-80's texts me every day.

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    1. It might be worth asking your mother if she has kept any of your letters, you may be in for a pleasant surprise.

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  6. Penpersonship is a dying art. Damn shame.
    A pair of pigs as a gift!? That's a first. I want to hear more. Did they have names? Live long lives? Miss their offspring when the little piggies went to market?
    I'm fascinated.

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    1. It was his own project as a farmer having just left school, I guess Dad also saw it as a way of teaching animal husbandry and as an extra source of income. Perhaps the big piggies went to market first and this little piggy stayed home! 😀

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