‘No, you cannot have your own horse,’ Father said ‘They eat as much as four cows’, and with that ultimatum I had to be content to hijack any horses that came within my horizon.
Each month the herd tester arrived, in a horse-drawn buggy, to test the butterfat content of our cows’ milk. His horse was a wily, old gentleman, and although he permitted me to get on his back, he would deliberately walk close to the fence rubbing my legs against the wire that was barbed.
‘No I won’t go any faster,’ he seemed to imply. ‘The best I can manage is a trot.’ So very uncomfortable to the novice.
The herd tester stayed overnight, only, and when he had gathered his results and delivered them to father, with a wave he was off to the next farm.
I never did persuade my father to buy me a horse.
It was around this time, in the school holidays, that I began cooking for my father, when my mother and little sister visited the city. He never participated in the kitchen when mother was home. It was her domain, but he saw me as a blank page to be quietly moulded and directed to produce the food he liked.
He showed me how to pierce a clump of beef and insert it with garlic for a pot roast which I still do to this day, adding my own twist: some wine, thyme, oregano, black peppers and a bay leaf.