The Stock Camps Ritual Of The Start



RON KERR – reminiscences of a working drover



The Stock Camps Ritual Of The Start


The wet was just about finished, plant horses in the yard
With the draft of the strongest horse, thrills and spills were on the card
Each man took his pick, of horses he would work
Everyone rode his own pick of horses, even if he ended up in the dirt.


The ground was fairly soft, should you take a fall
Some would slip you quick, if you wasn’t on the ball
So ride them in the yard, while you have the chance
Don’t take them too cheap, or you’ll have to walk to the camp


If you think you have his measure, try him out on the flat
Don’t think you have him beat; he’ll try you out along the track
They are in from a long spell, off green grass on the run
All full of beans, looking for some fun


You will meet them on equal terms, after a long lay off over the wet
Make sure your gear is on tight; they’re likely to put you to the test
If he doesn’t buck now, between here and the next camp
He likely has no guts, and shouldn’t be in the plant


If he lifts you from the saddle, go down for a better holt
They have been out the year before, and not just livery colts
Should he decide to go off in earnest, you’ll find him no riddle
He’ll be playing for keeps, becomes rough around the middle


So give him his head, don’t let him come down
If the footing not the best, he’ll win the first round
Don’t let him get a victory; he’s bound to try again
So keep him on his feet, before he can chalk up a claim


Roll your swags loose; pull them down tight on the packs
Watch these old mules, they like to see your wardrobe spread across the flat
Careful loading the packs, don’t step to far behind
They can kick at any angle and will wait for just the right time


Put on the neck straps, every horse carries his own hobbles
Place the tucker packs on the quieter mules, in case we strike trouble
Keep an eye on the packs, in case they start to slip
Grab the lead ropes, before they start to kick

Is everybody ready? For the start of the first day of the muster
There might be a few hiccups, or someone gets a buster
Let them out of the yard; be ready to hold the lead
Hold them back to walking pace, its eight miles before we get a feed


We will camp hear at the creek, near the big shady trees ahead
Hold them on camp, while we catch the mule’s earring the beds
We have made good time, so hobble up for the night
Should make a early start, if the horses camp alright


By the break of dawn, the horse tailor has the horses on camp
The cook is up with the billy boiled, by the light of a carbide lamp
With the others up around the fire, after rolling their swags
Than everybody to the horse camp, to catch and saddle their nags