crease during these succeeding five years, that the owners of the station found the carrying power of their land reduced by nearly one half, and were at their wits' end for a remedy.

Various means were tried for reducing the numbers of the rabbit. Men were engaged to breed ferrets on the run and turn them loose; other men were allowed to camp upon the run and keep large packs of dogs to wage war upon them, and were paid liberally for the skins they obtained; while others were similarly encouraged to kill them with guns. But notwithstanding all these measures for their suppressión, the rabbits continued increase till their numbers seemed limitless.

In the early days of this trouble, the squatter concerned himself only about the slaughtering of bunny, and paid no heed to the value of the skins. It was the custom to pay those engaged in killing them a certain price, from a penny up to two shillings and sixpence - according to the thickness of the rabbits on the land for each tail or pair of ears brought into the homestead. In this regard there is a story told of two parties of "rabbiters" who were engaged upon adjoining runs, on one of which the owner paid for the tails delivered to his storekeeper, while on the other a similar price was paid for the ears. These worthies hit upon the device of meeting at the boundary fence and exchanging ears for tails. Thus, each gang was paid for all the rabbits killed upon both runs, and hence every rabbit killed was paid for twice. This nefarious practice was carried on for some time before the victimized squatters discovered the fraud.

In course of time the value of the skins was recognized; and now millions are shipped annually to the London market, where they command a good price, and are made up by the manufacturers into a large variety of articles of female adornment, such as muffs, capes, trimmings, and the like; besides which, it is said that the skin is tanned and made up into an imitation kid. Besides the common gray rabbit, so well known in England, there are in New Zealand some very pretty varieties. Notably, there is what is known as the "silver gray." The fur of this species is a mixture, in varying proportions, of black and white tails. For these, nearly double the price of ordinary skins is paid by the skin-dealers. Besides the silver grays, which are sometimes almost

white, and at others nearly black, there are also many pure black rabbits, and a few quite white. There are also in some parts black rabbits with brown spots.

The method of taking and preparing the skins is as follows: the skin (jacket) is taken off without being split up in the usual way. The skinner places his foot upon one hind leg, and holding the other in his left hand, slits the skin with his knife across from leg to leg; he then disengages the skin from around each hind leg, and planting his foot upon both of these, pulls the whole skin up over the body of the rabbit, precisely as a footballer takes off his buttonless jersey. The skin is thus turned inside out; and a skil ful skinner will, with a sharp pull, unless the rabbit be very old and tough, strip the whole skin, dragging the head and fore paws through without any further aid from his knife. But in some cases he will have to cut round the neck and fore paws before he can disengage the hide. The speed with which men and boys who are accustomed to the work can strip bunny of his jacket is almost incredible.

Having taken off the skin, the rabbiter, unless he wants it as food for his dogs, leaves the carcase lying where he found it; and again turning the skin so that the fur side is outward, strings it upon a strap hanging round his neck, or upon his belt, and goes on in search of more spoil.

The methods already spoken of, shooting, and hunting with dogs and ferrets, having proved wholly inadequate to meet the case, other methods had to be sought; and at last the expedient of laying poisoned grain was hit upon. In the direction of poisoning, many experiments were made with different and uncertain results. Carrots prepared with arsenic were used, and are still in great favor in many parts, and both wheat and oats were "phosphorized," as the professional rabbiting term goes. At first, the poisoned grain was placed upon the ground indiscriminately in large heaps, with the result that many sheep and cattle ate it and were killed. This seemed to present an insurmountable obstacle to its use; but further experiments led to the plan of putting down the grain in small quantities in each place, not greater than a teaspoonful, which resulted very successfully. Oats are generally used in preference to wheat. This was the method by which poisoning with phosphorized oats is carried on, as observed by the writer on the station referred to above. Provisions were made for em


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ploying twenty-five men constantly for twelve months in laying poison. These, provided with four large tents, measuring ten feet by twelve feet, and under the supervision of the head shepherd, were set to work upon a carefully devised plan. In these days of "wire shepherds," as they are called, - that is, wire fences, termed wire shepherds because they take the place in a large degree of shepherds or boundary-keepers," who in the old days had to be employed by the squatters to keep the sheep from straying in far greater numbers than at the present day, -a sheep-run is always divided into a number of sections, often several thousands of acres in extent, called "paddocks." The "poisoning gang" would be taken to a convenient camping-place in one of these paddocks and there quartered. A well-sheltered nook would be selected contiguous to a creek, of which there were several on the run, and here the camp would be pitched. The four tents, for which the poles, pegs, and all necessaries would be carried from camp to camp, would be set up; quantities of dry fern, reeds, creepers, or grass, as the locality might provide, would then be cut and spread upon the floor for bedding; and on the top of this each man would spread his blankets. To each tent six men were apportioned, four of whom had to lie side by side across the inner half; while the other two lay in like manner, occupying one half of the outer portion.

Now, to attempt a description of the method by which bunny was attacked. Let us suppose that it was planned first to poison, say, No. 1 paddock. Some weeks before the war began, the bulk of the flock were turned into this paddock to eat the grass close down, so that the rabbits should have but little choice of food when the poisoning began. Next the camp was pitched in this No. I paddock; and then, the sheep having been moved on to the paddock next intended to be operated upon, work was commenced in earnest. The poisoned oats were prepared at the home station, and sent out to the rabbiters upon packhorses. At one time, the oats and phosphorus were boiled together in an open vessel; but as the fumes were found to be injurious to the men who superintended the operation, cylindrical boilers with hermetical covers were contrived revolving upon an axis. These cylinders, lying horizontally between upright stanchions, and turned with a crank, each capable of holding about two

sacks of oats, were filled with a mixture of grain, phosphorus, and water in certain proportions. The cover having been sealed up, a fire was lighted beneath the boilers, which were kept slowly revolving while the contents boiled for a certain length of time. The poisoned oats thus prepared having been brought to the scene of operations, the next business was to distribute them for the delectation of poor unsuspecting bunny. For this purpose, each man was provided with a semicircular tin about six inches deep, with a diameter of about eighteen inches. Each tin was fitted with an overarching handle, passing from the centre of the diameter, or flat side of the tin, to the centre of the circumference, or curved side. Through this handle a strap would be rove, by which means the tin could be slung over the shoulder in such a way that the flat side might rest against the bearer's left hip; the semicircular shape being designed for convenience in carrying. Each tin would hold from fifteen to twenty pounds of oats-nearly half a bushel. Each man carried in his right hand a light stick about two feet six inches long, with a piece of tin bent in the shape of a spoon, and about the size of a teaspoon, fastened to one end. Thus accoutred, and with a tin bottle full of tea and a little bread and meat in a handkerchief, slung to his belt, for the midday meal, the rabbiter would "fall in" after breakfast every morning at eight o'clock to begin the day's work.

On completing one paddock, drays would be sent from the home station to transport the whole of the impedimenta to the camping-place in the next, and so on from time to time. Nothing but absolutely perpendicular cliffs, which were sometimes met with, was allowed to divert the line of march. Sometimes the men would be climbing up steep mountainsides, at others picking their way gingerly, at no small risk of breaking their limbs, along the faces of steep sidings and cliffs; and anon they would be crossing creeks or threading their way through clumps of bush (wood). At times, when a piece of country had to be attacked where there was very heavy tussock grass or scrub, a day or two would be given to "burning off" before laying the poison.

So much for the business of putting the poison down for the rabbits. Now what about securing the skins? For this purpose, a contract was let to three men, who, in the guise of camp-followers, as they might be termed, followed the rab

biters from place to place. These men were provided with tents and wires for stretching their skins, and were paid by the station-owners one-and-sixpence a dozen for all skins brought in properly dried and tied up in dozens. The contractors employed two boys to help them; and all five used to spend the day from early in the morning until nearly dark scouring the country over which the poisoners had passed the day before, and taking the skins from the carcases. Then, upon their return to camp, they would all have to sit up far into the night stretching and cleaning the spoils of the day.

This gang had to pay the station for its provisions. The collections of skins daily would vary from one hundred and fifty up to three hundred per head, men and boys, according to the abundance of the rabbits in different places. The gatherings would rarely fall short of one hundred and fifty a head, from which it will be seen that these men were earning handsome wages. The writer on one occasion walked six miles, to and from a certain patch of ground that had been poisoned a day or two before (three miles each way), and skinned one hundred and twenty rabbits between breakfast-time and midday. The skins collected do not represent all the rabbits killed. Many hundreds die under ground, and numbers are torn to pieces by the hawks and seagulls, which congregate in enormous numbers from all directions upon "poisoned country."

From the foregoing, it may be seen what the ravages of the rabbit really mean, though, unfortunately, we have not all the figures at hand necessary for making an accurate statement. But first glancing at the loss to the station in wool through the reduction of its flock from eighty thousand to forty-five thousand sheep, let us review roughly the weekly cost of this rabbit war alone: Overseer, being the head shepherd, a "paid" yearly hand. Twenty-four men at twenty-five shillings each, £30; cook, £1 15s.; man to prepare poison, 1 10s.; four packmen at twenty-five shillings each, £5; rations for thirty-one men at seven shillings each, £10 175.; oats, say, a bushel and a half per man daily, equal to two hundred and twenty-five bushels at two shillings and sixpence, £28 2s. 6d.; phosphorus (quantity used and price not known), say, 5; bonus to men for collecting skins say, three men and two

boys collect three hundred each dailyfor week, nine thousand, or seven hundred and fifty dozen at one shilling and sixpence, £56 5s. Thus, roughly speaking, this station was expending weekly £138 9s. 6d. in protecting itself against loss from the continual increase of the rabbits, which threatened soon to take entire possession of the whole country. From this total have, of course, to be deducted the proceeds of the skins in London, which may be calculated, we think, after allowing for all shipping and home charges, at about two shillings and sixpence per dozen. This would give £93 15s. to be deducted from £138 9s. 6d.; leaving a weekly charge upon the station of £44 14s. 6d. But this, it must be remembered, is a very rough estimate, and is probably a good deal below the actual cost. In allowing a collection of three hundred skins per man and boy daily, we have probably far exceeded the mark; and it will be seen that any material reduction here would alter the figures considerably. Then, again, the estimate of seven shillings per head for rations is probably an under-statement, as is also the item of five pounds for phosphorus. Moreover, no estimate has been made for wear and tear of tents, cooking utensils, horse-flesh, drays, and harness, etc.; nor for wages of men packing, counting, pressing, and carting the skins, and getting firewood, and so on.

But enough has been written to show what a serious matter the "rabbit pest" is to the squatter and to the country; and we trust this paper may prove of some interest to English readers. It should be mentioned that in Australia the rabbitskins are of no value whatever, because, owing to the warmer climate, they are not so heavily furred as in New Zealand. The ultimate result of the crusade we have endeavored to describe was highly satis factory, the run being virtually cleared of rabbits for the time being. Nevertheless, it will be a perpetual charge upon the station to keep them under, as a year or two of neglect would bring about again the same state of things. And this is true of the greater part of the South Island of New Zealand and many parts of Australia. The rabbits are a constant source of anxiety and annoyance, and unflagging vigilance is necessary to keep them in check.

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IN their ragged regimentals
Stood the old Continentals,
Yielding not,

While the grenadiers were lunging
And like hail fell the plunging

Cannon shot:

When the files

Of the isles,



Giosuè Carducci, "Nuove Poesie," 13.

WHEN sad Mentana's hour comes round with every year returning,

Amid the monumental slabs that keep its memory green,

From the smoky night encampment, bore the The ghosts of those who fell arise, their

banner of the rampant

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hearts with anger burning,

With sorrowing eyes amid the tombs they stand distinctly seen.

No ghastly skeletons are they, but proper forms and stately,

The rosy twilight undulates around them. like a veil ;

From their far deeps the stars look down upon the brave sedately,

The clouds of heaven around their heads in wreaths of victory sail.

"Now when the mother mourns her sons on couch by memories haunted,

Now when the spouse weeps her lost love thro' nights of sleepless pain,

Again we seek the upper air with breasts pure and undaunted,

Once more to greet thee, Italy, to look on thee again.

"As in the muddy pathway before his queen and lady,

His silken mantle fine the knight laid down on bended knee,

Our lives we gave up freely, in thy service ever ready,

And yet thou livest unmindful of the sons who died for thee.

"On others, O sweet Italy, bestow thy smiles, but never,

Oh never, may the dead forget what they on earth loved best!

And Rome is ours, the champions of her name are we forever,

We on her lofty Capitol shall triumph ere we rest."

The vision fades, as melts away a faint cloud in the heaven,

And as it fades a groan escapes Italian bosoms all;

And rounder, rounder, rounder, roared the Her brightness and her harmony lays down

iron six-pounder,

Hurling death!


Knickerbocker, 1849.

the golden even,

While the sad sound rolls sternly up the

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