by Kim Kelly

chooks

THE FINE ART OF HUSBAND KEEPING

One of the most magical things about this writing caper for me is the special bonds that sometimes grow over time with readers, where fans become friends. I’m so blessed to have made a few of them, and with one beautiful friend in particular, we correspond the old-fashioned way – pen, paper, envelopes, stamps, et cetera.

Her name is Helen and her letters bring me not only the warmth of her heart, but a reminder to slow down – breathe – and reflect. Between writing, editing and social-media-ing commitments, as well as tending the needs of husband, children and other animals, not to mention the mad pace of life generally, sometimes it seems impossible to find time to sit down and write a letter. But for Helen, I must, and I love that her love brings me these still, quiet moments.

Helen also has a marvellous sense of humour. Knowing my interest in odd pockets of Australian history, and knowing that my husband had newly acquired some chooks, she recently sent me some pages from a magazine entitled, POULTRY – Australia’s Weekly Newspaper on Poultry Husbandry, from 1925. This rare and precious publication belonged to one of her neighbours, also a chook man, and the pages she sent are from a column entitled ‘For the Mothers, Wives and Sisters of Poultrykeepers’ – by ‘Aunt Patience’.

One of them includes ‘The Ten Commandments for Women’, which I must share with you here.

  1. Do not be extravagant. Nothing appeals more strongly to a man than the prospect of acquiring independence.
  2. Keep your home clean. Nothing is more refreshing to the eyes of the tired, nerve-wracked worker than the sight of a well-tidied home.
  3. Do not permit your person to become unattractive.
  4. Do not receive attentions from other men. Husbands often are jealous, and some are suspicious without cause.
  5. Do not resent reasonable discipline of children by their father.
  6. Do not spend too much time with your mother.
  7. Do not accept advice from the neighbour or stress too greatly even that of your own family concerning the management of your domestic affairs. Think for yourself. Consult your husband.
  8. Do not disparage your husband. Your ill-advised opinion of him, uttered in a moment of petulance, may be eagerly seized upon by others as the true measure of his character and abilities.
  9. Be attentive in little things. A smile will oft dispel ill-humour. Consideration for your husband’s feelings makes him respectful of yours.
  10. Be tactful. Be feminine. Men are really overgrown children. They do not mind coaxing but they resent coercion. Most men prefer their opposites. Femininity attracts and compels them.

Those were the days, hm? Don’t say you weren’t told…