A Long Time Ago

Dear Peg and Family
I received an early lesson in my life of how to live frugally. I don’t know what had happened to our family in the past, but from what I was able to glean, it now seems the grandparents were cheated out of the proceeds from the sale of their Hotel which they had sold. I know two of my Aunts were very bitter about something that happened. We the young fry were not included in their conversations. Now we are older, it could be explained to us, but unfortunately our older generation have now moved on. We could and did listen in, and tried to piece together what actually had happened. What I do know, was that in their sunset years, grandparents ended up living out of town in their Beach House. This was situated miles from any road. This was only a Batch, basic in every respect. Tank water, no drainage, and a long drop toilet, situated twenty yards from the house.
No electricity, so for cooking firewood was the fuel which we gathered from the surrounding Hills. There still logs that had been too big to be consumed by fire, when the forest that covered the land was cleared. These were left baking in the sun, a hundred years later on. We attacked these with a cross cut saws, wedges and axes. Once we had cut these into manageable lengths, we dragged them home because, it was all down hill. Then they were cut into suitable lengths for feeding into the stove. I should have mentioned there with no electricity. We relied on Kerosene lamps, and Candles for all our interior light,  storm lanterns if we needed to move outside.
There was another source of fuel, and that was drift wood or ‘dunnage’ which had been tossed overboard by ships when they were leaving Port. This was washed up onto the beach from time to time. It wasn’t regarded as good fuel, as salt impregnated dunnage, was a bit rough on the stove. The salt accelerated the rusting out of it’s panels, and the stove itself had to be replaced every ten years or so. This dunnage came in regular sizes 6×1 inches 3×3″ or 2×2″ and many sheds and out houses were constructed from this free material.
The one thing at this time that was short, and that was money. But we were never hungry, and looked forward to spending as much time every chance we got out at the Beach with the grandparents. Our parents worked nights at their Picture Theatre, so were grateful to have somewhere we were looked after, and our maternal Grandparents who were happy to take us off their hands. We all had large gardens, and of course there was the sea. There was more sea food than we knew what to do with. Our neighbouring farmers had a huge garden alongside their Cow Byre. Not silly, as now it was the most fertile place in the valley. They always had too much produce, and were very generous to us. But you had to eat in season. Potatoes, Silver Beet Parsnip and Carrots were always on the table.
It was about a two mile walk cross country to the nearest farm which was run by the Drivers Family. They were close to being a subsistence unit, and this was from where we purchased our milk and eggs and butter. The Drivers milked by hand about thirty cows, with all the family pitching in. They too had no connection to any electrical supply either. They then separated the milk by a hand separator, and took the cream to the nearest pick up point by a sledge, about another kilometre or so. The resulting skim milk left over, was then fed to pigs. These were sold off from time to time, as they grew into porkers. On walking up to the Farm we followed a creek, and cross country route clambering over styles which were provided to negotiate the fences. On arrival home, the milk was immediately scalded, we certainly didn’t have refrigeration back then only a safe on the cool side of the ‘Batch’ this was primarily just to increase it’s keeping ability. Back then we didn’t know about pasteurisation.
The Drivers also churned and made their own butter. I did have a ‘taste’ possibly because the cream it was made from was sour, or on the turn. I remember one time they had a young guest who wouldn’t eat farm butter. So he had his own, store bought supply. But only the wrapper that was real, and store bought. The Alternative to butter was drippings from the roast.
At harvest time we were all called in to assist our farmer neighbour, as were some of the next door folk. All work then was carried out by a couple of horses or manpower. One thing sticks in my mind was a 10 gallon churn of cold water in which a pound or two of oat meal had been added as a thirst quencher. Difficult today, as you can no longer, even buy Oat Meal. We were all invited to partake and share in a huge mid day Picnic meal.
Time may have moved on but my memories have never faded and the lessons learnt back then have stayed with me till today.
Love from Christchurch,
Wally
I received an early lesson in my life of how to live frugally. I don’t know what had happened to our family in the past, but from what I was able to glean, it now seems the grandparents were cheated out of the proceeds from the sale of their Hotel which they had sold. I know two of my Aunts were very bitter about something that happened. We the young fry were not included in their conversations. Now we are older, it could be explained to us, but unfortunately our older generation have now moved on. We could and did listen in, and tried to piece together what actually had happened. What I do know, was that in their sunset years, grandparents ended up living out of town in their Beach House. This was situated miles from any road. This was only a Batch, basic in every respect. Tank water, no drainage, and a long drop toilet, situated twenty yards from the house.
No electricity, so for cooking firewood was the fuel which we gathered from the surrounding Hills. There still logs that had been too big to be consumed by fire, when the forest that covered the land was cleared. These were left baking in the sun, a hundred years later on. We attacked these with a cross cut saws, wedges and axes. Once we had cut these into manageable lengths, we dragged them home because, it was all down hill. Then they were cut into suitable lengths for feeding into the stove. I should have mentioned there with no electricity. We relied on Kerosene lamps, and Candles for all our interior light,  storm lanterns if we needed to move outside.
There was another source of fuel, and that was drift wood or ‘dunnage’ which had been tossed overboard by ships when they were leaving Port. This was washed up onto the beach from time to time. It wasn’t regarded as good fuel, as salt impregnated dunnage, was a bit rough on the stove. The salt accelerated the rusting out of it’s panels, and the stove itself had to be replaced every ten years or so. This dunnage came in regular sizes 6×1 inches 3×3″ or 2×2″ and many sheds and out houses were constructed from this free material.
The one thing at this time that was short, and that was money. But we were never hungry, and looked forward to spending as much time every chance we got out at the Beach with the grandparents. Our parents worked nights at their Picture Theatre, so were grateful to have somewhere we were looked after, and our maternal Grandparents who were happy to take us off their hands. We all had large gardens, and of course there was the sea. There was more sea food than we knew what to do with. Our neighbouring farmers had a huge garden alongside their Cow Byre. Not silly, as now it was the most fertile place in the valley. They always had too much produce, and were very generous to us. But you had to eat in season. Potatoes, Silver Beet Parsnip and Carrots were always on the table.
It was about a two mile walk cross country to the nearest farm which was run by the Drivers Family. They were close to being a subsistence unit, and this was from where we purchased our milk and eggs and butter. The Drivers milked by hand about thirty cows, with all the family pitching in. They too had no connection to any electrical supply either. They then separated the milk by a hand separator, and took the cream to the nearest pick up point by a sledge, about another kilometre or so. The resulting skim milk left over, was then fed to pigs. These were sold off from time to time, as they grew into porkers. On walking up to the Farm we followed a creek, and cross country route clambering over styles which were provided to negotiate the fences. On arrival home, the milk was immediately scalded, we certainly didn’t have refrigeration back then only a safe on the cool side of the ‘Batch’ this was primarily just to increase it’s keeping ability. Back then we didn’t know about pasteurisation.
The Drivers also churned and made their own butter. I did have a ‘taste’ possibly because the cream it was made from was sour, or on the turn. I remember one time they had a young guest who wouldn’t eat farm butter. So he had his own, store bought supply. But only the wrapper that was real, and store bought. The Alternative to butter was drippings from the roast.
At harvest time we were all called in to assist our farmer neighbour, as were some of the next door folk. All work then was carried out by a couple of horses or manpower. One thing sticks in my mind was a 10 gallon churn of cold water in which a pound or two of oat meal had been added as a thirst quencher. Difficult today, as you can no longer, even buy Oat Meal. We were all invited to partake and share in a huge mid day Picnic meal.
Time may have moved on but my memories have never faded and the lessons learnt back then have stayed with me till today.
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