Thursday, September 4, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Mum and Joes' Quilt

My Father In Law was a great gardener. They lived on a cattle Station (Ranch) that was over 2 hours from town. Only half the road was bitumen. The rest was gravel or dirt. When I first met them, which was just after Fixit Guy and I became engaged, they had no phone connected and the mail was delivered once a week. Their regular contact with the world was via the Flying Doctor Radio. ( Click on the link to find out about this. Its an Outback Australian institution that has been a lifeline for remote families and communities)They could get telegrams over the radio but nothing was private as everyone who tuned into that frequency could hear what was said. The radio operator in Cairns would call out a list of people/stations that they were holding telegrams for. If you heard your name called then you would radio in and let them know that you were there and then they would read out the telegram for you. There was a time set aside on the radio for chat. You could call up your neighbour/friend/family on the radio and they would reply and you could have a bit of a chat back and forth (on the understanding that anyone could hear what you were saying. Nothing was private or confidential)

The road into the Cattle Station

Cattle trucks coming into the station

It was a whole other life for me when I met them. Their nearest neighbour was 20 minutes drive away - dirt road and 6 gates to get to them.

My father in laws garden wasn't just a matter of a hobby, but pretty much necessity, to supply the family with fresh vegetables. He grew all manner of things and grew them well. Not everything would grow because of the heat and initially because of the soil. However he nurtured the soil. With the help of the Department of Primary Industries, he tempered the soil to get the ph right. He had a big compost container and used cattle and horse dung to enrich it.

Our 4 kids back in about 1998 on "Spring Park", their cattle station. This is looking back across from my parent's in laws new house to the quarters where one brother and sister in law lived and back to the original home they  built on the place. Joe's garden was between the two buildings you can see

My darling Mother in Law with our middle son (known as Kombi Boy) on left and cousin on right.

Fangirl at back herding the little ones - 2 cousins and our youngest, Boyo, Various sheds in the background. 

View from my Parent's in Laws verandah

As is the way with gardens, the harvest time for the various vegetables would come at one time and there would be an inundation of a particular vegetable be it carrot, pumpkin, tomato, cabbage, beans, spinach, beetroot, kohlrabi etc. So just as my FIL (whom we called Joe) was a great gardener so was my Mother In Law (whom we called Mum) a great preserver. Some vegies were cut up and frozen, some were preserved in vacola jars and some were made into chutney or relish.

Not long after I started quilting I decided that I wanted to make them a quilt for their bed and I reckoned that the pattern with the bottle block on it was perfect for them. I would fill each bottle with things that reflected their passions and their interests -not just the things that you would normally find in bottles. My MIL and my mum were both born in the same year -1922. In 2002 I had already started making my mum a quilt for her 80th birthday in September (you can read about it here) and I wasn't going to have time to make Mum C one for her birthday which was only a few months later in December. I decided I would make one in time to give it to Joe for his 80th birthday which was about 15 months later in February 2004. Sadly he was killed 8 months before his birthday in June 2003. I was so sad that I hadn't made it in time for him to enjoy however I decided to go ahead and make it anyway to give to Mum. I would still make it to reflect both their interests. And so I did. I enjoyed collecting up the different picture fabrics. I only have one photo of the quilt and it isn't in great. I gave it to my mother in law for Christmas the year he died. She used it on her bed for the rest of her life. After she died, aged 83 in February 2006 I let my brother in law and his wife have the quilt as they had admired it and said they would cherish it.

The quilt
Sorry that I only have the one rather dodgey photo. I've tried to enlarge it so you can see the rows better

Things have changed mightily since those days in 1982. They now have the telephone on. The mail comes twice a week. Whilst the nearest town is still 2 hours away, there is a smidgen more bitumen and the gates have gone. My brothers in law installed cattle grids to replace all the gates along the road. Now both my in laws have died. My brothers in law now run the station and another one near by. (well as near as it gets out there... about an hour's drive away )

My In Laws home is now used for visitors when they come to the property

The tower that enables the family to have more reliable contact with the outside world

Satellite TV

Some things remain the same - cattle yards

Horses are still used to muster the cattle

windmills to pump water for the cattle

Vast distances to neighbours and friends
Linking up to Throwback Thursday with Quiltin Jenny

Quiltin Jenny


  1. What a great story! I love all the pics. Those jar quilts are terrific for showing off novelty fabrics. I remember when a friend made a bug one for her son years and years ago.

    Thanks for linking up!

  2. I have always liked the jar quilts. Yours came out very nice. Those are interesting pictures and I enjoy hearing stories of your family. Thanks for sharing.