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whip, but nearly twice as long and heavy, the stockman rides round the strange cattle all day, at such a distance as not to disturb them, but keeping them in sight, and to prevent any unruly individual from straying away back to their old quarters; for cattle have very extraordinary local attachment, and have beer known to head back forty, fifty, and even two hundred miles.
At sundown the cattle must be driven into the stockyard for the night.
After a certain period has elapsed, horned stock may be allowed to run alone, both day and night; but the careful stockman, for the first year or two, musters them daily on what is called the camping-ground.
The camp is usually a place shaded with trees, near water, to which a certain number of the cattle resort daily during the heat of the day, to rest and chew the cud. Camps are also formed by the propensity cattle have to assemble round a dead calf, or any other dead body. Every herd has a certain number of camps to which leaders of the cattle adhere, so that an experienced stockman always knows to what "camp" to look for particular beasts. On first settling on a run, it is advisable to ride round at noon and drive in and flog severely any beasts found out of camp. By steadily pursuing this system the whole herd are taught to rush into camp the moment the stockman cracks his whip, so that he is always able to muster any particular lot.
Careless stockowners who neglect these rules lose many head, and have to waste much time and horseflesh in chasing those they want to sell or kill.
Toward evening as the sun goes off the cattle feed away in “mobs” of fifty or one hundred in summer, and eight or ten in winter, the same lot always keeping together.
Branding Cattle. Once a year a grand muster takes place for the purpose of branding and castrating the young calves and colts, and ascertaining how the stock stands as to condition and number. This used to be the great event of the year on many
stations. “ You* invite all your neighbours within thirty or forty miles. They generally assemble the night before with their horses and dogs. You provide shakedowns, kill a heifer or two for fresh meat, and set an unlimited quantity of tea before them. No grog-that is too dear in the bush, beside other reasons on the score of temperance. Jolly circles are formed, all smoking short black dodeens round the fires, drinking
* The bushman, brother of the author.
DRIVING CATTLE TO CAMP.
tea, telling tales of cattle (not sheep, all stockmen abhor the name) and bushrangers. At daybreak, after a most substantial breakfast, the horses being got up and saddled, the whole party, often twenty or thirty horsemen and about one hundred dogs, start into the bush. All the cattle they can find are driven into the camping-ground by twelve o'clock. In a good season (if the herd is quiet), when feed is plentiful, every head will be swept off the run by that hour; but when cattle are wild and grass scarce they must be got in by degrees, some of the party tailing them all the time; and this will occasionally occupy weeks.
“All the cattle being on the camp, the tug of war commences. They resist being driven into the yard, knowing, by experience, how they are knocked about when they get there. The horsemen ride at them with their formidable stockwhips, the dogs bite their heels and hang on to their tails, and, what with the bellowing, barking, holloing, and swearing, the riot may be heard miles off by any stray traveller riding over the silent plains and through the open forests. Every now and then a beast or calf bursts out of the herd, and tries to head back to the bush. One or two horsemen are after them as quick as thought ; their dogs follow. Many bullocks are so quick in this country that if they get a little start it will take a good horseman to overtake them. The men ride like madmen, taking the fallen logs and great creeks in the ground in their stride ; their hats off, hanging by the string on their backs; their long hair and beards strewn on their shoulders, mixed with the gaudy fluttering handkerchiefs, in which a stockman delights.
“ As soon as the beast is pressed, he doubles sharp like a hare, but a good stockman and a good stockhorse doubles just as quick round like a top. Some horses seem to spin at will on their hind or fore legs, like the loose leg of a compass round the fixed one.
the horseman's whip, as loud as a pocket pistol, drawing blood at every stroke. The beast doubles and doubles again, never turning until the horse is close alongside. Wild cattle will often gore a horse in these encounters. I knew a man who had two horses killed under him in this way by Blackman's cattle, near the Barwen. At last, tired out, the bullock is glad to make the best of his way back to the fold, his hide all covered with foam and blood, his eyes glaring, and his tongue hanging out. Some cattle break out like this fifty times between the camp and the yard, and to see a dozen horsemen after half a score of beasts at best pace is a very lively scene.”
In purchasing a herd of cattle it will be found advantageous to
engage the stockman who has been accustomed to the run, and knows each beast and its haunts: such a one can go and get in cattle in a few hours, that would take a stranger days, riding your horses to death without success.
In the same way bullocks will do twice as much work for the man they know as a stranger.
Half the success of a squatter depends on knowing how to treat his servants; that is to say, justly, fairly, kindly, liberally, but firmly, and not too familiarly.
Dairy. It does not answer to attempt to combine agriculture on a large scale with stock, unless the establishment consists of several relatives able each to take his department; but it is well on every establishment to have a few quiet cows for the use of the house, enough to have plenty of milk, butter, and cheese.
The savage, barren, barbarous style of living once usual among squatters of large fortune is happily growing out of date. Such men were bachelors of good connections in England and Scotland, who invested a large capital in stock under the charge of unmarried servants, chiefly old hands; and they were content to live like their own servants in miserable huts, on salt beef, flour, and tea, imported from Sydney, because they had no idea of making a home of the colony, but were only intent on making a fortune, to be spent in the mother country, and were satisfied with the relaxation of a month's annual debauch, when they went to town to sell their wool and buy their stores.
This class were even so far carried away by their love of stock, and fear of the encroachments of the small corn-growing settler, that they came to look upon the cultivation of the land as something low, vulgar, and degrading. Agriculturists were to them what Bailie Nicol Jarvie and his brother weaver-bodies were to Rob Roy Macgregor and his brother caterans. By degrees they taught themselves to believe that the whole territory was only fit to feed cattle and grow wool. And many a squatter purchased flour when he could have grown corn more cheaply. But, then, if he had grown corn he might have drawn unwelcome attention to the resources of the large district he held at a peppercorn rent.
We trust the days of this insolent and selfish class are numbered, and that we shall have no more well-born, well-moneyed vagabonds encamping on the land, with the view of re-emigrating with their spoils at the earliest possible opportunity, to poison the ears of the