RON KERR – reminiscences of a working drover
I was on the road with my dad and there wasn’t a blade of grass on the stock route. Dad told me I only had to put the little tingling bell on the horse as he was going to slip the horses through a gate and let them feed on the station owner’s grass, which was 6 inches tall. After a while we heard the tingling bell move further and further away. Dad got a night horse and went to see what was happening. He came back about two hours later and when I asked what happened he explained that the cocky had obviously heard the little bells and came down. Apparently the cocky led all the horses into his holding yard. Dad had followed him and, when everything was quiet, he took the bells off our horses and put them on two of the cocky’s horses. He then drove all our horses back. The bells were only worth two pounds ten shillings but we got our well-fed horses back and never heard from the cocky.
We were drafting a large mob of sheep and the boss happened to look back and saw a lot of sheep lying all over the place. Some were kicking and some not moving. There was a jackeroo with a stick about 4 foot long hitting sheep on their heads. The boss ran back yelling, “What the hell are you doing?”. The ‘roo replied, “Helping the sheep up, boss, it helps them keep up, boss.” The boss looked at the ‘roo and said, “How long has this been going on?” The ‘roo replied, “Well, boss, this stick was 6 foot long when I started giving them the ‘local anaesthetic!”
The little calf was crying,
He often wondered how.
His daddy was all bull,
And his mother was quite a cow.
I got this from Dud Mills of Bourke.
Another night we were watching the cattle and one of the crew said he had seen a snake crawl under one of the bloke’s swag. The drovers all stood up within five seconds and grabbed sticks looking for the snake. They pulled blankets off their swags etc until they were down to the camp sheet and then they pulled that off. Meanwhile the cattle moved 4 miles away. You’ve got to keep your eyes on them!
There’s a story about watching cattle that concerns a camp that was full of Aboriginal drovers. The boss says, “I tell the first person that’s going to watch to sing a song when riding around the mob – so they know it’s one of us watching them. One of the drovers replied, “Boss, them cattle don’t know blackfellow lingo.“ The boss said, “They’ll soon learn the lingo but don’t you go singing too loud and bringing in strange bush cattle into the mob.”
IN THIS SECTION:
- Working Drover
- Water Tank Literature
- Last droving trip
- Life as a Drover
- Further Correspondence
POETRY FROM RON KERR