August 30, 2007
12 February 1807, by Elizabeth Macarthur
The plant that we use to set the hides
Leather goods of all kinds are manufactured here, using seal skins, kangaroo skins and the hides of other, better known animals. Seal skins make lovely soft shoes and kangaroo can be worked into designs – to set the hides, the tanners use a local tree, of which we have an abundance. The shoes Elizabeth and I wore to the ball are made from seal and kangaroo.
Nearly all the vegetable production of the old world is available here – I’m not certain what prices are paid for different kinds, as we grow most ourselves, but I understand many are very reasonably priced. Apples, pears and quinces can be expensive, up to three shillings a dozen pieces, whereas peaches when in season may be had a dozen for thruppence. We have very few berries of any kind, other than a native berry that makes a lovely jam – the Natives call that lilli-pilli. Figs grow luxuriantly and we are over-supplied, however Theos is teaching us to dry them in late summer, to eat during the winter, much as one has currants back Home.
All meat is cheap – even the convicts expect to eat Beef, Pork or Mutton every day, fresh when possible or their ration of salt meat from the store. They pay one shilling a pound for their meat. Wild ducks can be bought for a shilling, from the Natives, as can fish or oysters, at a shilling for a quart pot full.
Cloth, such a damask or other silks, and Indian cottons, are prohibitively expensive and are the first thing one asks any returning to the Colony to procure. We shall live off the items John brought with him, until they are worn thin!
A General Order concerning cur dogs was issued this week, demanding they are all destroyed. Packs of these animals, often of mixed breed with the native din-go and our lurchers, roam near here, a decided nuisance for the sheep but even to be feared by the horses: I have seen a stallion with two or three of these beasts hanging from his neck as he tries to keep them away from the foals, so Bravo! the Governor for this initiative.
John is away with Hannibal at Mr. Davidson’s, the selection he has been granted next to our own at the cow pastures. His too is being reviewed by the Governor, and in the meantime he is seeking suitable shepherds to look after the herd he’s collecting: back Home, Mr. Davidson was not a farmer, so he is learning quickly and has established good relations already with the settlers near-by. He will need a wife to come out – I wonder if he has asked Mrs. King to recommend him back Home?