Tree stumps

Before a field could be ploughed and planted it had to be cleared of old dead tree stumps. There were many of these and some could be dug round and loosened, then could be pulled out by harnessing a couple of horses or bullocks to a strong chain round it. If that did not work it had to be blasted out with dynamite. I was allowed to watch sometimes but from a safe distance. The dynamite and detonator would be set and a long fuse led from it. It was then lit, giving everyone time to take cover before a big bang blew the stump out of the ground. Then we would scramble out of our hiding places to see how big it was. One day the big bang took so long in coming that Dad decided it must have come apart or the fuse had gone out and went to see. While he was bending over to look, it blew up. He was very lucky not to have been seriously hurt or killed. It was a good lesson to us all to be extra careful with explosives.

Dad was not really a farmer by trade but was learning as he went along. He was a butcher by trade, so eventually he built a slaughter house to butcher animals and supply meat to surrounding farms and the public works camps that were building the road past the farm. Mary or one of the older boys would deliver the meat to the farms in an old model T Ford truck or a Harley Davidson motor bike that had a sidecar – guess who went along for the ride? One day Vincent was driving and had stopped on the road to deliver meat and left me in the truck to wait. He got talking and I was tired of waiting so started climbing across the seat to join him when the truck started rolling backward, as we were on a slope. Luckily Vincent saw what was happening and was able to jump aboard and stop us rolling over the bank.

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