Food other than that produced on the farm would be obtained from the local store, mentioned earlier. Tamahere had its own store over many years George Owen ad Son who followed J.H. Stewart, were from 1920 to 1940. Anything from this store, galvanised piping to peas, beans and raisins. The store burnt down one Christmas morning 1975.
Thomas Wells, the well known firm of the Mayor of Cambridge, provided an excellent service in the supply of household and farm goods, with a two horse wagonette in charge of Mr Russell.
The firms agent H.G. Rowe toured the district on horse-back taking orders for the firm, which were delivered the following week.
Wells, sold to the Farmers Co-operative Auctioneering in 1919, and Rowe continued with the new firm until the early '30's, with gig laden with haberdashery, welcomed by all his clients.
A service rendered to the district was the butchers cart, which toured the district once a week from Cambridge. A covered in, one horse light dray, full of various cuts of meat, which were cut up to the housewives liking on a special tailboard.
An old Indian, a hawker, called at various houses with all his wares of clothing, laces, sewing materials and anything in the clothing line.
Indians were all arrivals from India at one time or another and seemed to have made New Zealand their home. Whether they ever went back to India I do not know. But they and their turbans were a well known sight on the roads. Usually a gig, sometimes a horse only.
The men working on the farm would normally have their own quarters, if single men they would have their whare, probably with one or two rooms, depending upon the number of men. Each man would have a room plus a fireplace, would meal at the house. The same would occur when shearing took place. The shearers would have their own quarters and if it was a big establishment the shearers would have their own cook and meal from their own cook house, but if there were only two shearers concerned and probably one or two shed hands, would be another chore for the housewife, insofar as she would have to cook the meals for them, consisting of breakfast, followed by the inevitable morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and evening meal. This could go on for several days, depending upon the number of sheep that were shorn.
I have touched on transport to a certain extent but not covered it very well. As I remarked earlier in the pioneer days, horse back was the main method of transport. We read of John Martyn and Joe Banks coming from Auckland and Ramarama, viewing Waikato and back along the coast to Auckland, all by horse.
My mother used to ride from Rukuhia to Steele's sawmill at Mamaku and would do it in one day, without any trouble. One well known gentleman of Tamahere, used to ride to Ohaupo to the sales, and when the sale was over and he had duly imbibed, would find his way back to Tamahere, more by the gumption of the horse than his own. He would be seen riding down the road leaning from side to side as the horse made its way home. That horse always seemed to be able to keep the gentleman on and he was never known to fall off. It was only due to the horse that he arrived home safely.
The womenfolk all developed into capable horsewomen. Most had been used to horses, even in the old country, riding or driving, and in New Zealand they had to take that into their own hands. They would have to drive themselves to town in gig or buggy, one or two would have a coachman to take them but the rule was that they did their own driving, riding, of course they thought nothing of riding. Pickerings, at one stage all rode to church as did most other people, and those who had a good hack invariably rode to the hunt,the women riding side saddle.
There were always mishaps with the horses. Anyone who has had anything to do with horses over a few years realises that they are not 100% docile and will sometimes take fright or if given a chance clear out with the buggy and there would be an upset on the road with people thrown out and in some cases rather seriously hurt and in other cases only bruised. One case I can speak of, there were two in the buggy - so she said to my grandmother, "Get over the back and get out". My grandmother hopped over the back and out, Mrs Pickering dropped the reins and out, and let the horses go. Needless to say they arrived home walking, the horses had already arrived home to the consternation of the family that were on the premises at that time. This was fairly
typical of the upsets that could occur with horses. The traction engines upset the horses and if the housewife was driving along the road and meeting a traction engine, her first job was to turn into the nearest gate, drive the buggy into the paddock and keep out of sight of the traction engine, the horses really hated the hissing of the steam as the machine went along.
Beyond the house were the yards. There would be the horse yards, stables, possibly loose boxes, where the men of the house were keen hunters. Everyone riding, invariably had loose boxes or their hacks. There would be a chaff house adjacent to the stables, implement sheds and possibly a cow shed for milking two or three cows. The chaff house would be a room adjacent to the stables and in quite a number of cases would be in the loft, which meant that chaff would be lifted up into the loft with block and tackle and either left in the bags or emptied out into a room which had been lined, making it chaff proof so there would be no leaking of chaff. The chaff would then be either slid down into the stable or, if it was on stable level, taken out and put into the mangers for the horses, when they came home from work or they had been out in a buggy to town.
SHEDS - MILKING:
The implement sheds, held all the implements. In the earlier days farmers were very fussy to see that all their implements were housed, which is a very good thing. Implements were a costly item, as they are today, but they made it their business to put up sheds to see that all implements were housed. There would be wagons and drays, the ploughs, the drills, later top dressers and mowing machines of all sorts, hay turners and in some cases combines and chaff cutters would be all used. Covering, when the season began, the implements were in first class order. The cow shed, as I mentioned, only took two or three cows. Later, as the factories were started, the milking shed was built further away from the house, usually to accommodate the 20 or 40 cows that were milked there.
It would be a run-through shed and there would probably be 4 or 5 bales, and when each cow was milked the top of the bale was opened and the cow was let through towards the other side. These sheds were, in many cases, attended to by the women folk of the farm, especially if the man of the house was ploughing or working around the farm. It was the woman, the wife and the daughters, who made it a chore, particularly at night, to have the cows through the shed and out by the time father came home. This continued until the early milking plants made an appearance - the LKG, RIDO, and various other plants of that nature, which meant that the day of automatic milking had arrived. These early plants were activated by kerosene engines, benzine engines, and in some cases in the early morning these engines were a source of annoyance. Some had to be started by a hot lamp underneath before they would turn over. Others were turned over many times before they took up the job and got on with it, they supplied hot water and to the hot water was added the water heaters, usually a long tube with water gaskets all round it and the whole thing would be fuelled with timber and cones to do the heating.
After milking, the milk would be bucketed into milk cans, or the milk would be piped to milk cans out on the stand. From thence they were conveyed by waggon or dray to the local creamery, later to the local cheese factory. From the cheese factory and from the creamery, the milk or the whey as the case may be, was brought back and that was fed to the pigs. All dairy farmers ....................
All farms had their teams of horses, usually Clydesdales or Shires. They were used for all the ploughing operations, cultivating, anything pertaining to farm work. One horse for the dray or a three horse team for the plough, usually three horses in one particular team, sometimes four, depending upon the draught of the plough. One must pay a tribute to all these horses of an older generation. There are not too many about today. They were the animals that did more for New Zealand than any other animal. The hill country, the flat country, the swamps and the roads were all brought into working order by the Clydesdale and the Shires and even the lighter hack.
Teams when being worked, would be brought in early to the stable, in a number of cases before daybreak, and they would be fed chaff and oats and a bit of bran in the mangers, they would be brushed, combed down, and all harnessed ready before the ploughman went off to get his breakfast. Breakfast finished, the team would be out and away and hitched to the plough before eight o'clock ready for work - in some cases even earlier, half past seven was quite usual on some farms. There again it depended upon the amount of work that had to be done. In cases where they had to be working far away from the stables, chaff would be taken out on a sledge or trolley and when midday break occurred, nose bags would receive their ration of chaff and each horse would have his dinner break away out in the fields. The ploughman, having collected his lunch before he went out, would sit under an available tree or beside the plough and have his lunch, usually an hour for the horses.
The horses would have to be watered if possible, if there was a suitable creek or gully about, otherwise they went until evening, which was very much a long day. In the evening, back to the stable again. They would be unharnessed, watered, combed and fed and turned out after the ploughman had his meal in the evening and it really was a long day for man and beast, the ploughman more so.
The farms usually bred most of their own draft-horses. There would be either a stallion on the farm or a stallion would make his rounds from one of the centres once a week and foals at two years old gradually broken in and by the time they were three years old would be in working trim, ready to go into the team. Surplus horses would be sold off and invariably found their way to the Canbridge sale. Thoroughbreds and stock ponies were usually bred on the farm as well. In most cases stock had to be handled on horseback. The Shorthorns and the Herefords and the Angus would all be handled from the horse. Anyone trying to handle them on foot was asking for trouble. So hacks were really needed, plus a good dog. Dogs were absolutely necessary, especially when it came to driving a mob of stock any distances, or a flock of sheep were been brought into the yards for shearing or attending to sheep and lambs at lambing time, one must pay a tribute to the generations of dogs who have played an essential part in the farms of New Zealand.
Harvesting usually consisted of bringing in the wheat, the oats and the hay, and in most cases farmers helped one another. One man had his wheat or oat crop cut, ready to be stacked, and maybe several men out in the field after the binder, stacking the wheat or the oats, and given a few days, that would be put aboard the waggons and brought to the stacks in a corner of the field, and hay came under the same catergory. Everyone helped to get the hay in. It went into stacks too. In early days hay had to be all pitched up on to the stacks - off the ground on to a dray or a waggon and from there up on to the stacks. Later, there were elevatorsof various sorts. In building wheat, oat, or hay stacks, there is an art, and certain people became very adept at it. Percy Ewen, was one man who was always called upon to build a haystack, and a real job he made of it. One thing a builder had to be careful of, was not to let his sheaves slip, or to let his hay bulge. If there was a slip occurring it meant that the whole of the stack would fall out, so .................................................................
Two or three oat stacks sitting in a paddock, nice round oat stacks, were a joy to behold. Usually the stacks of oat and hay were thatched, until wanted in the winter time. The thatch consisted of rushes which were cut on various wet parts of the farms, brought in bundles and with the use of a long thatching ladder, were laid on the stacks and tied down with pegs and string running parallel to the sides. Thatching was an art, in which certain people really showed their special ability. In some cases, the wheat would be thrashed directly from the stook but the oats were usually stacked and were chaffed in winter time, and all chaff found its way to the sheds, or to Auckland.
The first chaff cutting outfits were driven by steam engines, usually drawn from place to place by horse. They were not self-propelled, and were followed by the Rushton-Hornsby Fowler traction engines, which were self-propelled; these engines towed a ombine or a chaff cutter, and a man's hut to the next job, much to the consternation of the local horses that were met on the road. Jarrod Allwell, Sam Baldwin, and Dick Melville were well known operators, in their particular days always made a first class job. Following them along the road would be the man in charge of a dray with a 400 gallon tank on board. He would be the waterman for the engine, and when the engine was working in the fields it would be his job to go to the nearest windmill, the nearest tank, or the nearest gully, and fill this 400 gallon tank with water. When full, he would drive back to the traction- engine which would suck the water out of the tank. This chore kept the tank and dray occupied nost of the day.
On coming to a farm, the traction engine often found things going very, very, heavy, particularly in the winter time and the outfit usually got stuck somewhere on the track or in the field and the operator would then put what was called "dogs" on the driving wheels. They were cleats that fitted across the wheels at 3 - 4 inches deep and right across the wheel and as the wheel turned they dug in and moved the outfit on, and by the time they had finished going down a road or across the fields there would be a real ploughed up effect which was a quagmire that took quite a lot of cleaning up and levelling off again. The chaff cut went to the local farmers chaff house or to the station at Hautapu or Tamahere, and in most cases was consigned to Messrs Craigs or Winstones of Auckland, who were the two biggest carrying firms of Auckland and with teams of horses and waggons doing all the transport around the city.
The wheat in the early days went to Cambridge, to a mill over on the Western side, just opposite the Post Office and there was a wire rope across the river and bags were sent across from the Estern side on the trolley on the wire rope. Other than that, the rest of the wheat would be railed to Auckland to the Northern Roller Milling Company. The Maoris had grown wheat before their country had been confiscated and several mills had been working in the local gullies, one at Hautapu, between Hautapu factory and Peakes Road, somewhere opposite Broadmeadows gate, and another was working in the gully north of Ambrose Main's farm (Reids). The Maori, had been taught the art of growing wheat and grinding following on the Reverend Morgan and his agricultural policy at Te Awamutu.
At shearing time in the early days, all the shearing was done by hand and a good shearer could do possibly up to 150 sheep a day, depending upon the class of wool and the type of sheep. The wool was taken off, rolled and put into bales in the press. Presses were rather a primitive type of construction. Two boxes reinforced, one on top of the other and the top one hinged and was filled on the ground. When filled, it would be tipped up and the whole lot pressed down. The early bales in the press, were only pressed down by a man and a spade. He would get up in the press, tramp the bales well, and work the spade down at the same time, pressing it down, and the same would occur with the top section.
The fleeces would have to be tossed to him, and he would ram down to the best of his ability and get it as far as he could. The top portion of the bale would be taken away and the whole thing would be sewn up. Later, the·mechanical press came in, in which the base was filled first, followed by the upturned top, which had a lid inserted before filling and when the man in charge considered he had sufficient wool in - usually about 50 full fleeces, depending upon the type of sheep - the top section was hinged up upon the base after two bars had been inserted to hold the wool before tipping.
There were two bars on each side of the press which were lifted to catch the lid, which was drawn down by ratchet levers to level of top of bottom section. When the bale cap held by the lid is sewn down to the base bale, the bales usually were about 360 - 380 pounds.
'l'he method of shearing mechanically, was with an engine working a shafting along the board, from which power was transmitted through a flexible shaft to the hand piece which did the shearing - little changed over the years.
In the 80's steam engines drove the plant, followed by kerosene or diesel engines, which were superceded by electricity.
With a mechanical hand piece a good shearer would shear 200 or more in a nine hour day.
The wool went on the waggons to Hautapu or Matangi, consigned to Auckland for the next wool sale, or shipped to England. In some cases the English prices worked out better than New Zealand, but most farmers favoured Auckland.
SHEEP AND CATTLE:
Sheep over the whole period under review had been used for raising fat lambs, the wool to a large extent was of a secondary nature as against lambs. Lambs fattened anything up to 30 - 34 pounds - Lincoln ewe or a Romney ewe with a Border Leicester ram, followed by an English Leicester, followed at a later date, Polled Dorsets. We are tied up with the vagries of the market in England, due to their liking of certain types of fat lambs. Practically all the lambs that were raised in the area were killed in the Auckland works and following the building of Horotiu, they were slaughtered there and exported directly from there.
Cattle, when fattened, found their way, if they were exceptionally good cattle, to the Hamilton saleyards, or to Westfield, which were the headquarters of the butchers in Auckland, took all their supplies from the saleyards. Some wonderful cattle have been shipped out of the district to the Westfield yards, and in quite a number of cases the stock from the area have topped the Westfield markets. And also at Frankton and the Hamilton yards. The same could be said of the stock that went to the shows of Auckland and Hamilton. The standard of all the animals raised in the area was exceptionally good and when it came to showing, the cattle and the sheep were as good as anywhere else in Waikato.
Lambs and cattle tht were exported, to a large extent, were shipped to England. The British market was the only market over many, many years for the beef and mutton that were raised. The name "Canterbury" lamb was a name that was given to the New Zealand lamb, be it from Canterbury or be it from Waikato and it had the best sales of any type of lamb in Britain, and it was the same with the cattle. Latterly, quite a lot of beef has gone to the United States, but in the early days Britain took it all.
I have quoted Westfield as the saleyards for Auckland. They have recently been closed, but for the last 50 - 60 years the yards have been on the outskirts of Otahuhu; prior to that the Auckland sale yards were adjacent to the Remuera station, run by the various stock firms, Alfred Buckland, Loan and Merchantile and Dalgety, the abattoir; was later built beside the sale yards at Westfield, which was much more convenient for everyone concerned.
The stock would be driven from the farm to Hautapu or Tamahere stations if they were fat stock and latterly to Hamilton through devious by streets, to the sale yards and if they were store stock they would be driven to Ohaupo; Ohaupo being the store stock market for the whole of the district would also supply the ewes for breeding purposes or the cattle for fattening. Hamilton ultimately took over and became the Waikato base and Te Awamutu also becoming a well known source of cattle and sheep for the fatteners of the district.
In the 1920's, the sheep flocks and the cattle were diminishing in number, as most of the country was taken over by dairying. Between Tamahere and Cambridge practically every farm had a herd of cows, which was good for the whole of the countryside. There was plenty of work for everyone, the factories were working and every farm carried a man or a sharemilker. But, as time progressed, that has now changed again and we have reached the stage where we have quite a lot of the area under 10 acres, with dairying and farming as was known, right out of the picture.