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This website aims to develop case studies of the development of farming practices and attendant transformations of local ecologies of defined blocks of land. Through these biographies of particular plots of land we are developing localised analyses of the wider historical trends in the political economy/ecology of the Northern Rivers.

Go to: Family history | The Farm | The River | David, Jenny and the Farm | Self-sufficiency and Aquarius | Cattle and floods | The landscape | Other on-farm agriculture | Buying and selling land | Poor economic times | Family partnership on the farm | Mill politics, harvesters and cane cutters | Changing methods | Chemicals | Market impacts and government subsidies | Generational change and succession | Impact on cane growing | Environmental issues | Politics of cane and the mill | Neighbours

Self-sufficiency and Aquarius

I’m interested in why you went the self-sustaining…even to go to Aquarius. I mean you both came from conservative farming backgrounds, did you come from a farm in Dubbo?

Jenny: No, no I lived at Baradine but I came from a very conservative background.

David: But everybody went to Aquarius I think most of the people…

Jenny: No I don’t think everybody went, some people hated all that sort of thing.

David: But most of the people who were in Aquarius probably came from that sort of background. They were….

Jenny: They came from conservative backgrounds and they were bucking the system.

I guess we get the idea that most of them perhaps came from the city.

David: Yeah.

Jenny: Yeah they did. And hardly anyone, like probably nobody from Woodburn would have gone to Aquarius because they weren’t the sort of people who would have been interested in that.

So what made you two interested in it?

Jenny: I can’t remember, I just thought it was a wonderful idea and that’s how the world should be going I think, I really can’t remember why but I’ve always been like that and I probably persuaded David to be more like that too and he probably wouldn’t have gone if it wasn’t for me.

So you didn’t have long hair David?

David: Not then I didn’t.

Jenny: Oh for those days no, but much longer than that. And a big bushy beard all woolly and sort of orangey red or brownie red. (laughs)

And to be self-sustaining what were you growing?

Jenny: Well people then, it’s come to be a modern thing to be a bit more self-sustaining and local, but then it was just what everybody did. Everyone had a cow, just about everyone had a cow and chooks and maybe ducks and…

David: and vegetables and…

Jenny: and grew their own vegetables. I think not many people made their own butter then did they ‘cause you could buy it at the shop? But did your mother make butter?

David: Yeah but not regularly.

Jenny: And Aunty Jessie who lived here, she did. And we used to have a big butter churn out on the stump out there so in the morning you’d go out there and churn the butter and we made the yoghurt and I did make cheese but nobody would eat it.

David: Not even the dogs would eat it (laughter).

Jenny: And we dabbled in making bread, we didn’t have any grain crops.

David: We had corn, maize.

Jenny: But we only used it as a vegetable and for animal food.

David: Chook food.

Jenny: And by then we’d got into horses too, because we had small children and they were off to pony club and we were into the local Woodburn horse scene which was the Parkers wasn’t it?

David: Yep.

Jenny: Mainly the Parkers and Robsons, from Woodburn.

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