By Maureen Burn

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A neighbour arranged for a man to look after my animals for pay, but I did not have time to tell him about Mehi’s mandioca peelings with salt rubbed in. This vieja sala was the old hospital, where the wagon drew up when I first arrived. ” People would do as they liked in it. They would put their beds where they liked and could sweep, or not sweep, their part of the floor, and those who had charcoal braziers put them just where they liked. The floor was beaten earth, so cinders falling from the brazier did not do it any harm.

Getting up and going to bed with the sun was a good saving on candles, which are a very expensive kind of lighting. I later saved up and bought a lamp and found kerosene much cheaper, but I did not use it often—only when there was a noise in the night. Animals can often make quite a noise at night, especially if they are in the same room. I always used to bring in very young pigs and later on Mehi’s calves, when w w w. p l o u g h b o o k s . c o . u k 61 the weather was frosty, and I never lost a young animal.

So my father had to seek employment with a cattle rancher, and my big brothers became gauchos or cowboys. My mother worked both indoors and out of doors, from dawn till dusk. She baked all the bread we ate and bought big rolls of cloth and made the dresses and shirts for us all. She used to get angry when she saw my father give a titbit to a w w w. p l o u g h b o o k s . c o . ” The cattle ranch had wild beef cattle on it, and we children were warned not to go out among them. But one day three of us went out on the prairie to look for mushrooms.

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