Once in the mid 70s I found myself working on a cattle farm in New South Wales. I was housekeeper to a family with three children. Here I discovered a small magic. Late in life to be sure. Small is sometimes bigger than one thinks:)
This was the first time I had lived so far from civilization, and by Australian standards it wasn’t that far!
The father was still learning the business and part of this education was attending the cattle sales, held in the nearest town, every Thursday. So shopping day was Thursday, not a day before or after. I had lived most of my life withing walking distance to shops, Mum had shopped daily until a fridge had arrived,and then twice a week. When I had left college and begun working I was in London, around the corner from any shop I needed. Forward planning wasn’t actually anything I knew much about.
There came a time very quickly when I looked at our fresh supplies and wondered how I was to feed the family until Thursday. It didn’t seem possible on the vegetables left in their basket. Meat was never going to be a problem, milk was collected by bucket from the farm next door,a ten minute trip over creeks and unmade tracks. But the vegetable situation was dire.I contemplated the few left. Thought of the rapidly growing teenagers I had to feed.Oh dear!
In London I had nannied for a few families, rich of course, all mod cons, of course. They had freezers. I had been introduced to frozen food big time by then. The frozen foods were to be the answer. A favourite with the children had been frozen mixed vegetables.
Now they hadn’t excited me that much, I had looked at them and decided they were short on actual vegetables. But thinking back at them decided me to try dicing and chopping the few remaining vegetables really small. Took time but the end result was worth it. From a carrot I had a feast well perhaps more than a carrot and maybe not quite a feast but certainly enough to fill growing stomachs. It out a whole new slant on the feeding of the five thousand.
I hadn’t really thought it would work, but I had discovered a secret which would hold me in good stead in this expansive continent I had found myself in.
I worked later as housekeeper on a sheep station which instead of being 40 minutes by car to the local shops was 300 miles from the nearest one. Again meat was never the problem but I had learnt a lot on the cattle farm and found that although writing a shopping list for a week ahead was scary, I managed to feed the hungry mob. This new skill of a ‘little being more’ was proving useful.