Kayang (Hazel) Brown talks about getting food from farms
Kayang (Hazel) Brown
So we just travelled from place to place, you know. Always you had to be one step ahead of them. But we had really sort of good backup while we were out there ‘cause the Browns were really good and they always made jobs, you know, for Dad. There was always work, even though money was short, but there was always plenty of food, you know, they had sheep, they had cows and we had our own cow to milk. And then about every three months or maybe every six months, every three months, would go and kill a pig and then you get your pork and that, and plenty of kangaroos, plenty of kangaroos and plenty emus, plenty emus.
And they had a vegetable garden down near the river, down the other side of the river at the soak and they grew potatoes and onions and Dad used to grow his own pumpkins and then melons, and oh the biggest cauliflowers you ever seen and biggest cabbages because why it used to be so good when they used to clean the fowl house up, or clean out the horse stables, all the dung used to be all bagged and taken down there and thrown on the garden patch. And it’s about, oh, less than a quarter of an acre, but had this big soak on the side and cover over the top and then the handle and you’d have to wind like the wooden bucket to get the water up and that. And we loved that, you know, go down there and then we got … and everybody watering can, going around and watering the garden.
And then when the lamb tail time cutting, when they’re cutting lamb tails, well the yard, sheep yard was just not far away from here, so he had to make a big fire, get a load of mallee roots and big fire and have a good feed of lamb tails. And then sometimes when it was summertime come, oh you had lovely tomatoes, beautiful tomatoes and I loved to get stuck into the peas. And, ‘cause we grew peas, but the pumpkin, you know not butternut pumpkins, they weren’t around but big ironbark pumpkins, you know. And Dad used to grow these big melons and he used to make melon jam, melon and lemon jam and you get the fruit once a week, once a fortnight when the mail truck come, whatever fruit was in there. Mostly and you got lemons, not much oranges but apples and then stone fruit because on the farm those days only like, oh, Sparks had … Browns had no fruit trees but Mrs Spark had … she had a fig tree, she had a mulberry tree and she had apricots. She had the most beautiful vegetable garden. Oh, she grew everything, true, and every time when we … oh we’d go over for a couple of days over that way, you know, and you go over there and you’re having a good feed of cucumber. All you needed was salt and a knife, mm, and then you know, you could have everything. And, you know, but there were … there were different people out in the bush years ago, only about nine farmers in the district, but people were like they treated you, you know, they were all settlers and just battlers. But there was nothing like no .. you never heard nigger, you never heard boong, or never heard native, you never heard Aboriginal, because we were all sort of people, you know.
And then like a lot of white boys worked in the district and like white men worked in the district and they were all for us, they were Dad’s friends, Dad worked with them, you know, and grew up with some, and there were like … we call them uncles, you know. And then Mrs Brown, she treated us lovely and then when we went home to Carney’s, well Nan would be always making biscuits. And Nan made the most beautiful biscuits, oh lovely biscuits and cookies, you know, cookies and the scones, true. Oh, she was a most marvellous cook, marvellous cook. And then, you know, every time when it was shearing time when we go there, we used to spend the time and go and collect eggs for Nan ‘cause she was, oh she was in about in her 70s, pretty old, you know, was getting old.
And then you like no … some, like fowl house here and there, but plenty of fox. Dad and them used to shoot a lot of foxes and then we’d go and collect the eggs, you know, chooks laying everywhere, eggs laying everywhere. And then we would go and get the basket or the enamel bucket and go and collect up all the eggs and bring eggs back for her, you know.And down at the shearing shed they’d be underneath the shed. She had chooks, she had a hundred, true, a hundred. And then sometimes when she didn’t have enough wheat or that that to feed them, he used to have to get, you know, wheat from another farm to feed them and mash and that. But she had a nice garden, nice vegetable garden and she fed them like that. But I always used to … one of the places that I really liked was Carney’s. But that was home away from home. Home, our home wasn’t much, only sometimes underneath a beanbag at … underneath a tent and that, under a tent fly and never had tarpaulins those days. But Carney’s was home for us.
From: Hazel Brown, Interview for South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council, 18 June 2008
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Permission to use this audio recording kindly granted by Kayang (Hazel) Brown