Tag Archives: farm

Re-write: ‘Milly, Molly and Mary’

Having received my two manuscripts back from the editor, I quickly did some changes to this children’s story below. I hope you like the changes.

Millie, Molly and Mary Barbara Pyett © 2014

3/4

Millie, Molly and Mary, are three chooks who live at a dairy.

They cluck for some corn, as cows moo with a yawn.

Cats meow in the sun, as dogs bark for fun.

Millie is dainty, her comb is quite painty,

Molly is plump and feels like a frump,

Mary’s feathers are sleek, but she’s rather meek.

5/6

One night, they roost, sound asleep on the Ute,

expecting to be there ‘till morning.

That night Farmer Brown drives into the town.

To his great surprise, his mates soon advise

And point to the chooks on his fender.

No time for a bender, a change of agenda.

Instead, he drives home to Brenda.

7/8

When the cock gives a crow, they belatedly know,

Their night ride can’t hide,

their feathers askew, it had to accrue

to censure their own misadventure.

They hop off the Ute; Farmer Brown gives a hoot,

and concedes the chooks need a feed,

before milking his cows that are waiting by now.

9/10

Next night as they sleep, a slinky fox creeps.

The dog makes a growl; the cat gives a yowl.

Farmer Brown wakes from sleep, leaves his bed with a leap.

Scares the fox from the barn that runs far from the farm.

11/12

Another night, they huddle in fright.

Thunder and light make them want to take flight.

Drumming hail sees them pale as they shake on the bale.

Eggs scarce for a while, warrants no smile.

13/14

The cows moo outside with nowhere to hide.

Cats yowl in the house and hide with the mouse.

Dogs growl in the shed, wait to be fed.

15/16

Peace reins on the farm, hens cluck in the barn,

Lay eggs, one, two and three for farmer Brown’s tea.

They cluck for some corn, as cows moo with a yawn.

Cats meow in the sun as dogs bark for fun.

No longer wary, they visit the dairy.

No longer flappy, they are so happy.

Farmer Brown appears with a smile ear to ear,

his grin doesn’t vary when he spies Millie, Molly and Mary.

 

Whether there will more more changes, who knows? I am now absorbed in ‘Enduring Threads’ and loving having the opportunity of seeing it with fresh eyes. Thanks to Sophia Barnes for her patience and expertise, it was well worth while having a professional editor go through and see the story with a detached perspective.

 

 

 

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Enduring Threads: part 16

Salt and Salts

I was fourteen when I housekept in the holidays for my Uncle Henry at ‘Cheverton’. This holiday helped me develop my cooking skills. He shared my grandmother’s habits and rituals, so I attempted to do the right thing. For instance, when I cooked pineapple meringue tart it was considered far too extravagant. With my wings clipped, I no longer tried to cook the extravagant; I’d complete the most obvious chores and then read. ‘Jamaica Inn’, was one of the novels I found on the bookshelf, followed by ‘Rebecca’. To cover my lack of interest in cleaning, I’d arrange flowers to make the house look more homely.

Outside we’d pick up the frozen newborn lambs that had been rejected and bring them back to the house to put them in the Aga warming oven till they thawed. They had to be bottle fed, and then we’d take them back and smear them with mess from another dead lamb, to give the right scent, so that an unsuspecting but accommodating ewe, who had lost her own lamb, would take one or two on as her own. I loved feeding the lambs.

Henry invited an old friend over for dinner. I put the leg of lamb in early to make sure it would be cooked. Henry had warned me that if it cooked too long it would shrink. It was nerve-racking guessing how long to cook things. Mint sauce made, gravy made, and potatoes crispy – it all looked perfect until we tasted it. The salted beans had not been rinsed enough. Not only were they salty but the gravy was also contaminated. I felt so disappointed. The men laughed and drank their way through dinner, as I squirmed, knowing it tasted briny.

Taking morning tea to the shearers the next morning didn’t improve my status. There were jars in the cupboard, all white. I’d hurriedly taken the unlabelled Epsom salts jar instead of the sugar for the shearers to put in their tea.

Henry’s bachelor neighbour, Mr. Brown, had never seen the sea. Henry decided one day to take him to see the ocean at the Bluff at Devonport. When he arrived, Mr. Brown was silent. Henry said,

‘Well, what do you think’?

Mr. Brown drawled, ‘It covers a lot of land.’

 

 

 

 

Enduring Threads: part 15

Angus

Angus

A Reprieve

Nigel, Barbara, Angus, Clive and Graeme. Robinson Studio photo 1958 (Barbara cutting her fringe as usual before photo)

Nigel, Barbara, Angus, Clive and Graeme.
Robinson Studio photo 1958 (Barbara cutting her fringe as usual before photo)

Looking forward to holidays made the school year bearable. We’d go to the farm at East Sassafras where we children would stay in the old house, whilst our parents slept in the new house. We helped paint the old house inside; yellow and grey in the boy’s bunkroom, and pink and blue in my room. How hideous it sounds now, (fashionable 50s colours). The open door to the outside veranda let the possums in, with their shiny black eyes reflecting in the firelight. Both bedrooms had a fireplace that I delighted in lighting. That love of an open fire remains with me. There was magic about the place. The gnarled old apple tree was the backdrop to our lunches outside in the sunshine. Winter days I picked masses of yellow daffodils growing wild. Arranging these inside radiated a warm glow, brightened the very dark kitchen with the camp oven. The windmill overgrown with an old-fashioned pink cabbage rose filled a fron garden.

One sad holiday, Rummy, our Cocker Spaniel, who was getting old and slow, didn’t manage to keep up with the Land Rover. It was one of the few occasions I remember Clive crying. It was a wet, cold month, but the daffodils bravely flowered.

Frank, Clive and Barbara Graeme, Brenda, Nigel and Angus on the farm.

Frank, Clive and Barbara
Graeme, Brenda, Nigel
and Angus on the farm.

Christopher Pyett

Christopher Pyett

There were always plenty of jobs to be done. Milking I decided not to be good at, as I really didn’t want that responsibility. My father milked the cows by hand. Feeding out was something

Angus and Nigel

Angus and Nigel

we all enjoyed, throwing hay from the back of the Land Rover. Learning to drive was fun, and we learnt as soon as our legs were long enough. Once I drove Uncle Bob, (before he married my aunt), to show him around the farm. I took him over Greens Creek and ended up bogged, and both of us had to walk through the mud to organise the tractor to rescue the Land Rover.

Only once do I remember my father getting angry. We children had all gone around the swampy area with firebrands, burning what we thought was just a swamp area, but Dad had just finished planting out new trees, and we managed to destroy them. I can’t remember any consequences, though knowing Dad was angry was enough to subdue us for some time.

Christopher often used to ride his bike out to the farm for the holidays. He says it was about a three- hour ride, though he is inclined to exaggerate. We’d play Monopoly and Ludo by the fire in the old house on stormy days. Clive and Chris would cheat, and Clive had a terrible temper if he didn’t win. Chris was also competitive, so it was always interesting. Christopher would

Baby Angus on the farm

Baby Angus on the farm

sometimes creep into my bedroom after the boys were asleep. He’d lie on top of the bed, sharing my pillow as we quietly talked into the wee hours, watching the shadows from the fire play on the ceiling. He introduced ideas I’d never heard of, like ‘pop’ music. Our fathers only listened to classical music. I had so much to learn.

Walking around the farm we’d sing songs, pick mushrooms, burst stomachs of dead sheep and collect wild flowers. Mary Mayguard helped housekeep for Dad and Graeme White whilst they were living at the farm when Mum wasn’t there. Mary helped around the farm too. We called her Mary Mudguard as she rode a motorbike.

Scan

The Mersey River with Princesss, (ferry) passing our house on Victoria Parade.

Sometimes the first long weekend in the year fell on my birthday. There was an Apex carnival held in Devonport on Victoria Parade that weekend. The man who ran the Ferris wheel would give us free rides before the carnival officially opened. It was always very exciting, and during my school years I was sad to be dragged away to return on the bus to school in Launceston.

Graeme boarded with (Great) Auntie Mynie for part of this time, so that he could attend the primary school in Devonport whilst Mum went to the farm. As a middle child, he probably felt undervalued. He was good-looking and clever too, like Clive. He excelled at school and became a prefect at Scotch College and then went on to study engineering at university, also like Clive.

Nigel and Angus went to Scotch, following in Graeme and Clive’s footsteps. The new principal was a single man. During their time at Scotch, a fire broke out in the boarding house. The house- master’s paedophile activities were uncovered by the discovery of photos hidden in a wall, of him-self with some of the boys. I don’t know if Angus and Nigel were involved but they were brought home to the local high school. Nigel’s best friend committed suicide. It was a terrible time, especially for Nigel.


 

Enduring Threads: part 13

1956

Dad bought ‘Elphin Grove’, East Sassafras about the same time as Uncle Henry bought ‘Cheverton’. To my father’s chagrin, Henry made a success of farming whilst Dad had to sell ‘Elphin Grove’ after many difficult years. Dad’s farm was run down, and Henry’s was in top condition, this may have had something to do with it.

Clive, Graeme, Angus, Nigel, Barbara and Frank at 'Elphin Grove'

Clive, Graeme, Angus, Nigel, Barbara and Frank at ‘Elphin Grove’

The farm was bought before Angus was born. Mum found this a formidable period with two households and a baby. At three months, Angus became ill in Devonport, and Mum didn’t ring Dad at the farm. She asked me to hold Angus whilst she brought in enough wood to keep the fire burning throughout the night. As I held him, he lay perfectly still until he’d jump almost out of my arms. This was due to his high temperature. The doctor was called, something my mother didn’t do lightly. He didn’t know whether Angus would make it through the night. Next morning Angus had spots. He had measles.

29 Victoria Parade after top floor was added

29 Victoria Parade after top floor was added

The upstairs three bedrooms and bathroom were built-on whilst I was still at primary school. This was a point of disagreement between my parents, as the arrangement was to have been: build-on or buy a farm. It turned out to be both. Dad had asked a wealthy cousin, Graeme White, to go into financial partnership with him to buy the farm. My mother was not pleased, especially finding herself pregnant. She wanted us to continue going to the local primary school in Devonport wishing to stay in town, but the farm was about a twenty- minute drive out of town, considered a long way then.

Greens Creek running through 'Elphin Grove', East Sassafras

Greens Creek running through ‘Elphin Grove’, East Sassafras

Dad practised mixed farming. In this photo you can see the thistles surrounding the sheep. We used to all go out with a hoe to try to eradicate them. An unending job on 500 acres. My father was against pesticides and farmed organically, not popular in those days.

Angus became the baby who soon learnt to get his own way, and my mother’s frustrations grew. He learnt to swear at the age of two, and many people remember him having tantrums ‘up the street’; Angus lying on the pavement, and my mother resorting to jelly beans to quieten him. Travelling to the farm we had a little pale blue Commer van. It was my job to nurse Angus, as there were no car seats or seat belts then. His head felt so heavy when he’d fall asleep and my arms would ache from holding him.

Angus sitting in Auntie Mynie's driveway.

Angus sitting in Auntie Mynie’s driveway.

Scan

Eric Pyett and Angus outside the old house at the farm

 

On the farm, he roamed with just a rather dirty-looking nappy on his tanned body. He was ten years younger than me. During his toilet training period there was the occasional hose down at the end of the day. Once he crawled up to the bee- hives and was stung. He was duly treated with the bluebag from the laundry. We loved hearing his prayer at night, as instead of ending with ‘For Christ’s sake, Amen’, he’d say,       ‘For Christ’s sake, come in!’

The Russell household remembered Angus’ urinary contributions to the rain gauge. David kept the official records for the weather station, and Angus’ contributions were not welcomed.

Angus rejoiced in eating lipsticks. Auntie Mynie lost one, before she realized that Angus had a fetish for them. He also ate Auntie Judy’s new Revlon, and she did not take that quietly. Angus, Nigel, and Graeme stayed with Auntie Mynie at times during the years Dad had the farm. Being away at school, I was unaware of this, even though Mum wrote weekly.

Our youngest brother was canny, if money were to be found, Angus would find it. Mum made him take it to the Police Station when he found a note of some worth. He’d wait and it was always returned to him.

The Advocate newspaper photographed Angus, and it incorrectly stated that he was collecting pinecones for the aged. Some children were, but Angus was bringing his sack home. One of his ‘sculptures’ was also seen in the newspaper, a log adorned with seaweed, looking like a woman. The headline: ‘unknown artist’, delighted him.

A story in The Examiner (29th March 1989) describes Angus’s endearing naughtiness: ‘When young, Angus Roberts set his school pencil case adrift on the Mersey River for him and his school mates to pelt with stones, it wasn’t until it was about 10m from the shore he remembered it contained his school report card.’ This article was about Angus becoming the first Devonport- born sea captain returning to the Mersey for some time. Angus’s quote: ‘My bedroom overlooked the river, now my bedroom is the river.’

In 1956, the year Angus was born, Clive was sent to board at Scotch College in Launceston. He took to it and excelled in everything, becoming head prefect at fifteen, a position he held for two years. His first Christmas holidays at home in Devonport he said,                                  ‘Mum, I’m playing in the tennis tournament.’

Clive, 1950s

Clive, 1950s

Mum responded,                                                                                                                               ‘Do you know how to play tennis?’

Clive returned home with a brand new tennis racquet having won the Junior Section. I basked in the shadow of his popularity.

Apologies for the lack of quality of the box brownie photos!