For the present, then, I bid you adieu.
Inconveniences of first Settlement.—Difficulty of obtaining Provisions and other necessaries.—Snow-storm and Hurricane.—Indian Summer, and setting-in of Winter.—Process of clearing the Land.
November the 20th, 1832.
OUR log-house is not yet finished, though it is in a state of forwardness. We are still indebted to the hospitable kindness of S------ and his wife for a home. This being their first settlement on their land they have as yet many difficulties, in common with all residents in the backwoods, to put up with this year. They have a fine block of land, well situated; and S------ laughs at the present privations, to which he opposes a spirit of cheerfulness and energy that is admirably calculated to effect their conquest. They are now about to remove to a larger and more commodious house that has been put up this fall, leaving us the use of the old one till our own is ready.
We begin to get reconciled to our Robinson Crusoe sort of life, and the consideration that the present evils are but temporary, goes a great way towards reconciling us to them.
One of our greatest inconveniences arises from the badness of our roads, and the distance at which we are placed from any village or town where provisions are to be procured.
Till we raise our own grain and fatten our own hogs, sheep, and poultry, we must be dependent upon the stores for food of every kind. These supplies have to be brought up at considerable expense and loss of time, through our beautiful bush roads; which, to use the words of a poor Irish woman, “can’t be no worser.” “Och, darlint,” she said, “but they are just bad enough, and can’t be no worser. Och, but they aren’t like to our iligant roads in Ireland.”
You may send down a list of groceries to be forwarded when a team comes up, and when we examine our stores, behold rice, sugar, currants, pepper, and mustard all jumbled into one mess. What think you of a rice-pudding seasoned plentifully with pepper, mustard, and, may be, a little rappee or prince’s mixture added by way of sauce. I think the recipe would cut quite a figure in the Cook’s Oracle or Mrs. Dalgairn’s Practice of Cookery, under the original title of a “bush pudding.”
And then woe and destruction to the brittle ware that may chance to travel through our roads. Lucky, indeed, are we if, through the superior carefulness of the person who packs them, more than one-half happens to arrive in safety. For such mishaps we have no redress. The storekeeper lays the accident upon the teamster, and the teamster upon the bad roads, wondering that he himself escapes with whole bones after a journey through the bush.
This is now the worst season of the year;—this, and just after the breaking up of the snow. Nothing hardly but an ox-cart can travel along the roads, and even that with difficulty, occupying two days to perform the journey; and the worst of the matters is, that there are times when the most necessary articles of provisions are not to be procured at any price. You see, then, that a settler in the bush requires to hold himself pretty independent, not only of the luxuries and delicacies of the table, but not unfrequently even of the very necessaries.