Blasted ribbon, yet again! Heysuse - I am 9 and still have that blasted ribbon ...
So ... why was living on a farm the bees-knees! I left Sydney when I was 8; lived on a farm until I was 14; then moved into the small country town. What did Yeats say: troubled by the vast images out of spiritus mundi? Where to begin? My head is crowded in ...
There were three kids and we had to alternate getting kindling for the stove for Mum. Down near the 12-be-12 (the small shed) there was a fire circle and stumps for our small bums. We had to sit on a stump and slice from foot lengths of pine log sufficient kindling for Mum for the next coupla days. This was done with a tomahawk - at which Baz was best.
We had a chook run from which we had to deter the foxes and the dingoes. Let loose to wander the House-Paddock all day, we had to coax them back in of an evening: learning the first lesson on the value of bribery. Then we had to find all the bloody eggs which, of course, they laid everywher BUT in the boxes and if they did lay in the box, then they covered it with a fine layer of shit!!
We had an Illawarra Shorthorn called "Strawberry" who for some godforsaken reason became the milch-cow, to whose milk we added that of "Daisy" who was a hang-dog-eyed Jersey a breed which produces peer-less creamy milk. We three shared the chore of milking the cow: laboriously twining small fingers around bloated teats and squishing the milk into the bucket, if we were lucky. Then off down to the back of the tank stand where the separator stood next to the butter churn.
In addition, and remembering that poor Dad thought that he was a sheep farmer, we had Jenny, the black'n'tan sheep rounder-upperer. Jenny would run out the back of the herd, belly flat to the ground, ears erect waiting for Dad's signal - "Way back, Jen. Way back. girl". Once she had them as a herd, she would ride their backs - with a nip here and a reminder there - all the way to the pens.
Mum allocated each of us two beds down in her vegetable patch beside the dam. Competitive as ever, we dug and weeded, collected and smashed cow pats, to encourge string beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, cauliflower and a melon each. Baz had the greenest thumb.
On our days off, we scarpered down Ward's fence, squeezed through the fence and up the gully line to the back dam. The gully line contained the most exquisite lengths of vine for arrows which Ross and I wrestled with while Baz snuffled out the perfectly malleable lengths for a bow. Presently armed, we leapt from rock to fallen trunk across the face of the hill, on the lookout for advancing cowboys ... or indians ... or baddies ...
What a difference a year or so makes: I can remember many of the names in the Third Class photo: Back row 4th from left is Snotty Jones whose mother called him Robert but who had the unfortunate habit of using his sleeve and then simply rolling it up; second row 4th from left is Gary Duggan who all the girls thought was dishy; 6th from left is Philip Ward who everyone thought geeky; 8th is Fatty Oxford whose mother called him John; next to him is Bruce Collins whose family carted stuff in big trucks. Third row of girls starting from the left: Pam Morris, Annie Duggan, Neridah Wardrope, Bev Hollins ... miss one ... Faye Cox, Beth Boreham, moi. First row from the left: Diane Lacey, Carol Duggan, June Rose ... then miss quite a few until the girl on the end who was Lynette Drabsch. Not bad for a photo that is 52 years old and for people whom I have mostly not seen since 1965 because I was the only one in that photo who stayed at school beyond the age of 15. Bit sad that.
My best friends were Bev Hollins - even though I kept on having to apologise to her for things I did wrong - and Pam Morris - who was not very friendly after she stabbed me with an HB pencil (the dark mark is still there!) at about the same time as she reckoned she understood what boys wanted when all I realised was that they didn't like wrestling with me 'cause I won - not because I was stronger but because I was smarter. Being smarter got me into all sorts of strife: it was not good to know how to write, and draw and read with understanding. Certainly not if one was crook at sport: which I was, something which I only understood once the hole-in-the-heart was diagnosed when I was twenty-bloody-two! So I withdrew into the library and the life of the imagination ... when new books came in I got them first - not that anyone else gave a damn - took 'em home and climbed to the topmost hay-bale in the big shed and ignored Dad when he hollered for me to help him.