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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. Crack goes 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 MANAGEMENT OF DAIRY.
home government with tales of the barrenness of the land, and the idle improvidence of the labourers whom they wish to exclude from its possession.
For the future we may expect fewer colossal fortunes and more settlers. Nothing but love and pride in well-tilled land can counterbalance the attraction held forth to the bone and sinew of colonization by gold-fields.
Settlers in the true sense of the term–families who have left the home country, determined to found a home in Australia—should lose no opportunity, consistent with their circumstances, in making that home comfortable.
Next to a garden a dairy is almost an indispensable luxury. A dairy should be cool, airy, clean, and well supplied with water. Although wooden bowls are in almost universal use in the colony, they are so difficult to keep clean in this climate that metal and earthenware . are much to be preferred, if to be had.
At the same time dairying operations on a liberal scale will only pay near a large community, or with easy means of carriage. In one district butter will realize 3s. 6d. per lb., and in another 8d.
In the bush the milkers are generally cows with a calf. The calves get the milk all day, and are penned up away at night. The cows are milked in the morning, but a little milk is left for the calves; and often a calf is allowed to have a suck between times where a young heifer is inclined to hold her milk.
Under this plan of management each calf has a name, and comes out when called ; but it makes milking a very long operation, and one man cannot milk more than ten or twelve cows in a morning.
It is advisable to break in as many cows as possible to be milked out of a herd, as it tames them very much; while calves brought up in the way above described are likely, if of a quiet breed, and not allowed to run wild, to remain quiet.
The following is the operation of breaking in a young heifer that has not received a good, original education :
The “quiet” cows, having all been milked, are left in the yard with their calves by their sides, the young heifers with them, but their calves separated and penned up. Two men then enter the yard with a long hide rope (or lasso) and roping-stick; with this they throw the rope over the heifer's horns, pass the end round a post near the “bail” with one turn, and then, hauling and driving, bring her up to the post, where her head is fixed in the “ bail,” a sort of pillory in which she can move her head up and down, but not out or sideways. Her near hind
leg is then tied to a post with a leg-rope, her calf is let out, and the heifer is milked. When this operation has been repeated a few times, heifers of a good sort will go up to the bail at the word of command.
A few large lumps of rock-salt for the cattle to lick at the milkingyard will very much promote their health and make them willing to come up
In consequence of the difference of yield and the calf system, it will take two hundred bush cows to supply a dairy which fifty would support in England.
The man of small capital, after milking, must inount his horse and put all his cattle together on the run, and see every head on the camping-grounds, before he comes home, while his wife and family are hard at work in the dairy churning or salting down butter, or making cheese. This, varied by working in the garden, or taking a team to get in a few loads of firewood, may occupy each day of a small farmer for years.
Pigs and poultry hang round a dairy, and fatten on the skim-milk and whey without trouble. If there are any men at work near, few things pay better than bacon and ham.
It is essential for the safety and comfort of every settler to have one or more horses close at hand ready, without searching, to be saddled and used at a moment's notice, if anything should happen to the sheep or cattle. Many a valuable flock has been destroyed, and many a herd lost, while men have been finding and catching their horses.
A man of moderate means must always buy a mixed herd, containing a fair proportion of bullocks pretty well forward, for, if he start with cows only, it will be nearly three years before he has anything to sell. There is a colonial story of a young gentleman who, landing with the best introductions, was a few months afterwards seen on his Darling Downs with a herd consisting of fifty bulls.
It is calculated that bullocks averaging 800 lbs. lose about 100 lbs. in a journey of three hundred miles.
Port Phillip is a better cattle country than South Australia, and sends a good deal of beef across the river Murray on four legs.
The cattle in bush reacquire in many respects the habits of their wild progenitors. Such is the habit of camping, and such, too, the manner in which, like the wild cattle at Chillingham Park in Northumberland, they march in single file to water, the bulls leading ; so too, when threatened, they take advantage of the inequalities of the ground, and steal off in the hollows unperceived, the bulls, if attacked by dogs, bringing up the rear.
The settler of small means will frequently, if respectable, be able to get stock to take care of as shares; indeed, the high rates of wages now ruling will extend this system, and do much for industrious farmers with little capital but large families.
Horses. Horses must be purchased with the same precautions, and pastured in the same way, as cattle. They require the same kind of country, but are even more liable to break bounds. Two horsemen can look after a thousand head, although there are few now who keep up so large a stud. The stallions are generally run with the mares, and the herd becomes divided into small mobs of eight or ten each, headed by a horse; but it does not do to turn an English horse loose in this manner. Horse breeding makes very slow returns, but with moderate care and judgment are a safe investment.
The best breeds are either thoroughbred mares of English descent, crossed by Arab stallions, or Clydesdale or other cart breeds, for the road.' Where roads have been constructed, horses are generally preferred to oxen for draught, and we consider Clydesdale preferable to Suffolk Punch or black Lincolnshire. Races take place in regular English style in almost every township. At the Homebush Park Races, near Sydney, on the third day five races were run, the smallest number of horses starting being five, and the greatest number fifteen ; ten started for the second race. The sport is conducted by the Jockey Club Rules.
The demand for the Indian market makes a considerable figure in the newspapers, but cannot be relied on, as it varies and depends on many contingencies.
It is not worth while to breed inferior horse stock at all; at the same time it will not pay a beginner to go to excessive expense for his stallions. In Australia, as in Europe, to breed half-bred horses on a large scale is a hazardous speculation ; with the best sires and dams no one can tell how they will turn out; but a good Arab put to a good thoroughbred, or two good Clydesdales, will produce a fair proportion of useful, and a per centage of first-rate, animals. The best blood horses may do for the Indian market; the next in quality for sale to arrivals ; the worst will make stockmen's horses, although for going after cattle a cobby horse that will turn on a cabbage-leaf is preferred.
The horse liked for India is about fifteen hands to fifteen hands one inch high, well topped, showy, compact, and well on his haunches--bays and greys preferred. Cart horses should be active, quick steppers.
To keep up good horse stoek judgment must be exercised, not only about the sires and the dams, but, in drafting out inferior animals