Not so good old days

From the ODT’s 100 years ago, a moving tale of cruelty:

Some sidelights on the work which women are sometimes called on to do on a farm were given in the Hawera Magistrate’s Court today, when a farmer’s wife proceeded against her husband, for persistent cruelty to her and her two children and for (1) a maintenance order, (2) a separation order, and (3) a guardianship order.

According to the evidence the parties were married six years ago, and they went to live on a farm at Patea. For a time matters went on smoothly, but subsequently trouble arose, the complainant saying that the defendant insisted upon her assisting with the milking. She had to do her own household work in addition, feed the calves, and chop the firewood. Witness used to go into the shed between 3 and 4 o’clock in the morning, when she milked from 25 to 30 cows out of a herd of 112.

Witness had to milk the same number of cows in the evening, and did not finish until nearly 8.30. She had too much to do, and had often complained of having to work in the cowshed, but her husband only retorted: ”You will come if I want you.” Witness was milking up to the night before her first child was born and three weeks later she was in the shed again. Later on, the defendant put in milking machines, and then she had to strip over 40 cows.

Witness complained that she had to borrow money to come to Hawera to be confined for her second child and while there she received ”pocket” money from her mother. She had only received £1 in pocket money during the six years of her married life. On one occasion the defendant had made trouble about her asking for a shilling to buy a hat, remarking that she could do without it. Her mother made most of the clothes for the children, but had never been paid for them. . . .

A sad reminder that those weren’t always the good old days.

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