My workload was not onerous as a child but I was expected to make my bed, set the table correctly and help with the dishes. The animals had to be fed so the dogs were given dog biscuits and pollard mixed with hot water in the morning and Tuckerbox (canned dog food) in the afternoon. The hens were also given pollard and hot water in the morning and wheat in the afternoon. Feeding them was usually my job but I enjoyed the reception I received from the animals when their food arrived. I would let the dogs off their chains and they would scamper madly up and down the drive. As their job was to bark when a customer arrived they were chained to a long wire which gave them room to run up and down during the day.
My father and mother had a large vegetable garden and I was given a plot to grow radishes as they matured quickly. I moved onto carrots and corn which took longer but were more useful. Often when I was in fantasyland making my own fun I would be dragged back to reality and told to do some work in the garden. Indoor activities were frowned upon during the day. Even reading books was an evening activitiy.
Collecting woodchips for the Warm Ray from the woodheap was another job and as I grew older splitting wood with the tomahawk was added to my chores. I learnt how to set the fire in the winter and clean the ash out of the tray. At night we filled hot water bottles. Each morning, now cold, they were emptied onto the garden.
On the other side of the road, across the Hume Highway, was a deep waterhole which had originally been a blue metal pit. Beside it was a water pump which channelled water under the highway to a dam on our side. I was keen to learn how to operate the pump on my own and found it fairly simple, with just the flick of a few levers. The scariest thing about it was when the metal door of the pump was opened a dozen or so long legged huntsman spiders ran around over the surface of the control board. It was necessary to wait patiently until they had calmed down after the intrusion and then gingerly set the controls and switches to set the pump in motion.
Huntsmen spiders were treated with respect as they ate the insect pests in the home and garden. They generally appeared inside during wet weather. My mother set a good example to her daughter by removing them with a broom and returning them to the outdoors. I’m pleased to see my daughter does this too. They are not venomous. They just look scary.