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crease during these succeeding five years, white, and at others nearly black, there are that the owners of the station found the also many pure black rabbits, and a few carrying power of their land reduced by quite white. There are also in some parts nearly one half, and were at their wits' black rabbits with brown spots. end for a remedy.
The method of taking and preparing Various means were tried for reducing the skins is as follows: the skin (jacket) the numbers of the rabbit. Men were is taken off without being split up in the engaged to breed ferrets on the run and usual way. The skinner places his foot turn them loose ; other men were allowed upon one hind leg, and holding the other to camp upon the run and keep large in his left hand, slits the skin with his packs of dogs to wage war upon them, knife across from leg to leg; he then disand were paid liberally for the skins they engages the skin from around each hind obtained; while others were similarly en- leg, and planting his foot upon both of couraged to kill them with guns. But these, pulls the whole skin up over the notwithstanding all these measures for body of the rabbit, precisely as a foottheir suppression, the rabbits continued baller takes off his buttonless jersey. The increase till their numbers seemed limit- skin is thus turned inside out; and a skilless.
ful skinner will, with a sharp pull, unless In the early days of this trouble, the the rabbit be very old and tough, strip the squatter concerned himself only about the whole skin, dragging the head and fore slaughtering of bunny, and paid no heed paws through without any further aid from to the value of the skins. It was the cus. his knife. But in some cases he will have tom to pay those engaged in killing them to cut round the neck and fore paws before a certain price, from a penny up to two he can disengage the hide. The speed shillings and sixpence - according to the with which men and boys who are accus. thickness of the rabbits on the land for tomed to the work can strip bunny of his each tail or pair of ears brought into the jacket is almost incredible. homestead. In this regard there is a story Having taken off the skin, the rabbiter, told of two parties of “rabbiters ” who unless he wants it as food for his dogs, were engaged upon adjoining runs, on one leaves the carcase lying where he found of which the owner paid for the tails de- it; and again turning the skin so that the livered to his storekeeper, while on the fur side is outward, strings it upon a strap other a similar price was paid for the ears. hanging round his neck, or upon his belt, These worthies hit upon the device of and goes on in search of more spoil. meeting at the boundary fence and ex. The methods already spoken of, shoot. changing ears for tails. Thus, each gang ing, and hunting with dogs and ferrets, was paid for all the rabbits killed upon having proved wholly inadequate to meet both runs, and hence every rabbit killed the case, other methods had to be sought; was paid for twice. This nefarious prac. and at last the expedient of laying poitice was carried on for some time before soned grain was hit upon. In the directhe victimized squatters discovered the tion of poisoning, many experiments were fraud.
made with different and uncertain results. In course of time the value of the skins Carrots prepared with arsenic were used, was recognized; and now millions are and are still in great favor in many parts, shipped annually to the London market, and both wheat and oats were “phosphorwhere they command a good price, and ized,” as the professional rabbiting term are made up by the manufacturers into a goes. At first, the poisoned grain was large variety of articles of female adorn- placed upon the ground indiscriminately ment, such as muffs, capes, trimmings, in large heaps, with the result that many and the like; besides which, it is said that sheep and cattle ate it and were killed. the skin is tanned and made up into an This seemed to presentan insurmountable imitation kid. Besides the common gray obstacle to its use; but further experirabbit, so well known in England, there ments led to the plan of putting down the are in New Zealand some very pretty va- grain in small quantities in each place, not rieties. Notably, there is what is known greater than a teaspoonful, which resulted as the "silver gray.”. The fur of this very successfully. Oats are generally species is a mixture, in varying propor- used in preference to wheat. This was tions, of black and white tails. For these, the method by which poisoning with phos; nearly double the price of ordinary skins phorized oats is carried on, as observed is paid by the skin-dealers. Besides the by the writer on the station referred to silver grays, which are sometimes almost above. Provisions were made for em
ploying twenty-five men constantly for sacks of oats, were filled with a mixture twelve months in laying poison. These, of grain, phosphorus, and water in certain provided with four large tents, measuring proportions. The cover having been ten feet by twelve feet, and under the sealed up, a fire was lighted beneath the supervision of the head shepherd, were boilers, which were kept slowly revolving set to work upon a carefully devised plan. while the contents boiled for a certain In these days of "wire shepherds," as length of time. The poisoned oats thus they are called, -- that is, wire fences, prepared having been brought to the termed wire shepherds because they take scene of operations, the next business was the place in a large degree of shepherds to distribute them for the delectation of
" boundary-keepers," who in the old poor unsuspecting bunny. For this purdays had to be employed by the squatters pose, each man was provided with a semito keep the sheep from straying in far circular tin about six inches deep, with a greater numbers than at the present day, diameter of about eighteen inches. Each - a sheep-run is always divided into a tin was fitted with an overarching handle, number of sections, often several thou- passing from the centre of the diameter, sands of acres in extent, called "pad or flat side of the tin, to the centre of the docks.” The “ poisoning gang” would be circumference, or curved side. Through taken to a convenient camping-place in one this handle a strap would be rove, by of these pa ocks and there quartered, which means the tin could be slung over A well-sheltered nook would be selected the shoulder in such a way that the flat contiguous to a creek, of which there were side might rest against the bearer's left several on the run, and here the camp hip; the semicircular sbape being dewould be pitched. The four tents, for signed for convenience in carrying. Each which the poles, pegs, and all necessaries tin would hold from fifteen to twenty would be carried from camp to camp, pounds of oats – nearly half a bushel. would be set up; quantities of dry fern, Each man carried in his right hand a light reeds, creepers, or grass, as the locality stick about two feet six inches long, with might provide, would then be cut and a piece of tin bent in the shape of a spoon, spread upon the floor for bedding; and on and about the size of a teaspoon, fastened the top of this each man would spread his to one end. Thus accoutred, and with a blankets. To each tent six men were ap- tin bottle full of tea and a little bread and portioned, four of whom had to lie side by meat in a handkerchief, slung to his belt, side across the inner half; while the other for the midday meal, the rabbiter would two lay in like manner, occupying one " fall in ” after breakfast every morning at half of the outer portion.
eight o'clock to begin the day's work. Now, to attempt a description of the On completing one paddock, drays method by which bunny was attacked. would be sent from the home station to Let us suppose that it was planned first transport the whole of the impedimenta to to poison, say, No. I paddock. Some the camping-place in the next, and so on weeks before the war began, the bulk of from time to time. Nothing but absothe flock were turned into this paddock to lutely perpendicular cliffs, which were eat the grass close down, so that the rab. sometimes met with, was allowed to divert bits should have but little choice of food the line of march. Sometimes the men when the poisoning began. Next the would be climbing up steep mountaincamp was pitched in this No. I paddock; sides, at others picking their way gingerly, and then, the sheep having been moved at no small risk of breaking their limbs, on to the paddock next intended to be along the faces of steep sidings and cliffs ; operated upon, work was commenced in and anon they would be crossing creeks earnest. The poisoned oats were pre- or threading their way through clumps of pared at the home station, and sent out to bush (wood). At times, when a piece the rabbiters upon packhorses. At one of country had to be attacked where there time, the oats and phosphorus were boiled was very heavy tussock grass or scrub, a together in an open vessel ; but as the day or two would be given to “burning fumes were found to be injurious to the off” before laying the poison. men who superintended the operation, So much for the business of putting the cylindrical boilers with hermetical covers poison down for the rabbits. Now what were contrived revolving upon an axis. about securing the skins? For this
purThese cylinders, lying horizontally be pose, a contract was let to three men, tween upright stanchions, and turned with who, in the guise of camp-followers, as a crank, each capable of holding about two they might be termed, followed the rab
biters from place to place. These men boys collect three hundred each daily were provided with tents and wires for for week, nine thousand, or seven hundred stretching their skins, and were paid by the and fifty dozen at one shilling and sixstation-owners one-and-sixpence a dozen pence, 256 5s. Thus, roughly speaking, for all skins brought in properly dried and this station was expending weekly £138 tied up in dozens. The contractors em 9s. 6d. in protecting itself against loss ployed two boys to help them; and all five from the continual increase of the rabbits, used to spend the day from early in the which threatened soon to take entire posmorning until nearly dark scouring the session of the whole country. From this country over which the poisoners had total have, of course, to be deducted the passed the day before, and taking the proceeds of the skins in London, which skins from the carcases. Then, upon may be calculated, we think, after allowtheir return to camp, they would all have ing for all shipping and home charges, at to sit up far into the night stretching and about two shillings and sixpence per cleaning the spoils of the day.
dozen. This would give £93 155. to be This gang had to pay the station for its deducted from £138 gs. 6d.; leaving a provisions. The collections of skins daily weekly charge upon the station of £44 would vary from one hundred and fifty up 145. 68. But this, it must be remembered, to three hundred per head, men and boys, is a very rough estimate, and is probably according to the abundance of the rabbits a good deal below the actual cost. In in different places. The gatherings would allowing a collection of three hundred rarely fall short of one hundred and fifty skins per man and boy daily, we have a head, from which it will be seen that probably far exceeded the mark; and it these men were earning handsome wages. will be seen that any material reduction The writer on one occasion walked six here would alter the figures considerably. miles, to and from a certain patch of Then, again, the estimate of seven shilground that had been poisoned a day or lings per head for rations is probably an two before (three miles each way), and under-statement, as is also the item of five skinned one hundred and twenty rabbits pounds for phosphorus. Moreover, no between breakfast-time and midday. The estimate has been made for wear and tear skins collected do not represent all the of tents, cooking utensils, horse-flesh, rabbits lled. Many hundreds die under drays, and harness, etc.; nor for wages of ground, and numbers are torn to pieces by men packing, counting, pressing, and the hawks and seagulls, which congregate carting the skins, and getting firewood, in enormous numbers from all directions and so on. upon “poisoned country.'
But enough has been written to show From the foregoing, it may be seen what what a serious matter the “rabbit pest” is the ravages of the rabbit really mean, to the squatter and to the country; and though, unfortunately, we have not all the we trust this paper may prove of some figures at hand necessary for making an interest to English readers. It should be accurate statement. But first glancing at mentioned that in Australia the rabbitthe loss to the station in wool through the skins are of no value whatever, because, reduction of its flock from eighty thousand owing to the warmer climate, they are not to forty-five thousand sheep, let us review so heavily furred as in New Zealand. The roughly the weekly cost of this rabbit war ultimate result of the crusade we have alone : Overseer, being the head shepherd, endeavored to describe was highly satis. a“ paid " yearly hand. Twenty-four men factory, the run being virtually cleared of at twenty-five shillings each, £30; cook, rabbits for the time being. Nevertheless, £1 155.; man to prepare poison, £ 1 1os. ; it will be a perpetual charge upon the stafour packmen at twenty-five shillings each, tion to keep them under, as a year or two £5; rations for thirty-one men at seven of neglect would bring about again the shillings each, £10° 175.;, oats, say, a same state of things. And this is true of bushel and a half per man daily, equal to the greater part of the South Island of two hundred and twenty-five bushels at New Zealand and many parts of Australia, two shillings and sixpence, £28 2s. 6d. ; | The rabbits are a constant source of phosphorus (quantity used and price not anxiety and annoyance, and unflagging known), say, £5; bonus to men for col. vigilance is necessary to keep them in lecting skins - say, three men and two I check.
No. 2268. – December 17, 1887.
CONTENTS. I. COUNT BEUST,
Quarterly Review, II. IN AN OLD CHATEAU,
Longman's Magazine, ·
Temple Bar, VIII. THE Oxus BRIDGE,
St. James's Gazette,
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Single Numbers of THE LIVING AGB, 18 cents.
In their ragged regimentals
ON AN ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE OF
Giosuè Carducci, “Nuove Poesie," 13.
WHEN sad Mentana's hour comes round with Cannon shot:
every year returning, When the files
Amid the monumental slabs that keep its Of the isles,
memory'green, From the smoky night encampment, bore the The ghosts of those who fell arise, their banner of the rampant
hearts with anger burning, Unicorn;
With sorrowing eyes amid the tombs they And grummer, grummer, grummer, rolled the
stand distinctly seen.
No ghastly skeletons are they, but proper
forms and stately, And with guns horizontal,
The rosy twilight undulates around them Stood our sires;
like a veil; While the balls whistled deadly,
From their far deeps the stars look down upon And in streams flashing redly
the brave sedately, Blazed the fires;
The clouds of heaven around their heads in As the roar
wreaths of victory sail. On the shore Swept the strong battle-breakers o'er the
“Now when the mother mourns her sons on green-sodded acres
couch by memories haunted, Of the plain;
Now when the spouse weeps her lost love And louder, louder, louder, cracked the black
thro' nights of sleepless.pain, gunpowder,
Again we seek
the upper air with breasts pure Cracking amain!
Once more to greet thee, Italy, to look on Now like smiths at their forges
“ As in the muddy pathway before his queen Rang a fierce discordant metre
and lady, Round our ears ;
His silken mantle fine the knight laid down As the swift
on bended knee, Storm-drift,
Our lives we gave up freely, in thy service With hot sweeping anger, came the horse- ever ready, guards' clangor
And yet thou livest unmindful of the sons On our flanks.
who died for thee. Then higher, higher, higher, burned the old
fashioned fire Through the ranks !
“On others, O sweet Italy, bestow thy
smiles, but never, Then the bare-headed colonel
Oh never, may the dead forget what they
on earth loved best! Galloped through the white infernal
And Rome is ours, the champions of her name
are we forever,
We on her lofty Capitol shall triumph ere
The vision fades, as melts away a faint cloud And the trooper-jackets redden at the touch in the heaven, of the leaden
And as it fades a groan escapes Italian Rifle-breath;
bosoms all; And rounder, rounder, rounder, roared the Her brightness and her harmony lays down iron six-pounder,
the golden even, Hurling death!
While the sad sound rolls sternly up the JUDGE MCMASTER.
lofty Quirinal. Knickerbocker, 1849.
M. R. WELD.