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3-208 (Raw)

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addressee,female author,female,Henning, Rachel,35
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Plaint Text :
Private Written
Private Correspondence
Teale, 1982
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3-208-raw.txt — 3 KB

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Bathurst, N.S.W., 12 September 1861
You have no idea what a plague the servants are here. If a few married ladies meet, it is quite ridiculous to hear the chorus of lamentation that they strike up. One has had a new American stove knocked to pieces; another every scrap of crockery broken; another her gowns pawned; another, bills run up in her name at every shop in the town. All the buckets have been let fall down all the wells and the name of the 'followers' is legion. I suppose it is an evil that will mend itself as more servants come out here.
[Exmoor station, Bowen River, North Queensland, 8 August 1864] You [her sister in England] seem surprised at our extensive housekeeping, but in fact there is none here. It would be distracting if we had to keep house for the entire station. Every dray that comes brings its load of flour, tea, sugar and minor luxuries and necessaries, and everything is stowed away in the store, a large building at the back of the house, which is fitted up with a counter, weights, etc., like a shop. Mr Hedge-land is storekeeper at present, and he dispenses to the shepherds, bushmen, bullock-drivers and all employees their weekly rations of 8lb. flour, 2lb. sugar, 1 / 4 lb. tea and 16lb. beef nominally, though practically this latter article is unlimited.
The Irish family in the kitchen have so much a week of the same allowed them, though they are not kept strictly to any allowance, and everything extra that the station people want they pay for, such as pickles, vinegar, currants, sardines, jam, etc.
So you see we have nothing to do with them. There is a pantry in the house where all our things are kept, just as in your pantry at home. Tins of sugar, tapioca, rice, sago, etc., and these are filled from the store as wanted. Annie [the author's sister] keeps house for us - that is, she makes puddings and pies and orders dinner just as you would for a small family at home.
Our things are quite separate. The remains of puddings, etc., are always put back in the pantry, unless given to the servants. When the milk is brought in, it is set in the same pantry. Annie skims it and makes the butter; if there is plenty, the servants are given some; if not, they do without. It is by no means a right as it is in England. If they want currants or anything of that kind they buy them out of the store. The store contains, also, boots and all kinds of men's clothes and nearly everything you can think of as necessary in the bush. Mr Hedgeland enters whatever he gives out or sells in a day-book, and I keep the station books, enter whatever the men buy with their wages in a debtor and creditor account, and make up weekly and monthly the entire consumption of the station. All that is sold and given out.
We kill our own beef. About once in ten days a beast is hunted in and slain. The best joints are reserved for the house, an immense roasting and spluttering takes place all over the station, and the rest is salted down into casks and kept in the meat store, a small room behind the other store. We have a smoking-house now, made of zinc, where the beef kept for the house is hung up and smoked with damp wood. An immense improvement on the cask beef.