I was about four when I got my first pair of brand new boots. Until then, no doubt, I had been toddling around in bare feet or hand-me-downs from my elders.
Now I had these leather boots, black and shiny. They felt funny at first, as though my feet were not going where I pointed them.
No doubt the leather was stiff and the soles hard and firm but it felt good to walk through the rough grass and stubble with them.
The stubble - short stiff stems above ground after the binder had cut hay in the cultivation paddock - wreaked painful punishment on bare feet.
It was always hard and brittle; the sharp edges caused raw cuts under the joints of the toes which always took ages to heal.
But here I was like a giant in the wilderness, striding through the stubble and crushing it beneath the stout soles of these new boots. They were 'T' boots. The real thing, just like Dad's, which he reckoned outlasted all other brands.
Stamped on the sole was the big letter T. This, I was to discover, stood for Taylor. They were made in Australia by Enoch Taylor, whose motto was 'Made to Last', and last they did. Well might we wonder whatever happened to Enoch Taylor and his famous T boots.
Mother had a big family to look after. Three boys and three girls at that stage. Jim was the eldest, then came the three girls Irene, Freda and Barbara. (Max who was born after Freda, had died as a young child in 1913 at Crookwell.) I was next and Hec came after me with about two years between the ages of each of us. We all had our various responsibilities to help keep body and soul together, including Reginald, then about four.
My job was to bring the candlebark and sticks, the kindling that Dad needed first thing in the morning to light the fire; and pity help me if the kindling was not there.
Often the three of us would be collecting sticks for firewood, Hec, Barb and me, looking for birds' nests or wild flowers as we ambled through the bush and chattered as we went. When I got a bit bigger I graduated to bringing in firewood from the woodheap and Hec had to gather the kindling.
There was a wood stove in the kitchen, but the big open fireplace in the living room was the engine room of the house. It was about a metre and a half wide with stone hobs each side of the hearth.
Above the fire, where the opening merged into the chimney, was a crossbar from which hung various chains and hooks to suspend the pots and the black cast-iron kettle.
Lord of all these utensils was the Fountain, a pot-bellied cast-iron boiler of about 20 litre capacity, with a top which narrowed to a smaller size for the lid. At the bottom projected a spout with a brass tap for drawing off the hot water.
Dad was always first up, usually well before daylight. He would light the fire and swing the kettle on the boil then stump out to call up the draught horses and tip a butt of chaff into the feeder, which was a trough made from a hollowed log. Then he'd call up the cows and put feed out ready for them in the bails.
On cold mornings we kids would run to the fireplace, still struggling into shirts, pants and sweaters. The big ones helped the little ones. Mum would take charge of the fireplace; see the kettle was boiling, fill the big enamel teapot and put on a pot of rolled oats for breakfast.
"That'll stick to your ribs," said Dad, as we blew on the plates of steaming porridge garnished with a big spoon of brown sugar and fresh milk.
When we ran out of porridge, as sometimes happened, we'd have stale bread soused with hot milk, or perhaps a plate of 'burgoo' made by boiling up flour and salty water. That also stuck to our ribs - and to the pot, plates and anything it came in contact with.
While breakfast was under way a couple of us would be making toast, crouched in front of the fireplace with thick slices of bread held on long wire toasting forks in front of the coals. The toast would be spread with jam or honey, or fresh dripping sprinkled with salt and pepper. Butter was always used with great circumspection, even though dairying was our livelihood.