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ance. If a man cannot back himself, he is unfit for the trade-of a butcher, a jobber, or grazier.
My father retired with a good name, and I retained his old customers. On one occasion only did Adam Bogue buy a beast from any dealer except from my father or myself, and he declared he was no gainer by the transaction. He purchased 120 cattle yearly. The late Mr Broadwood always bought about eighty beasts at the Michaelmas Fair. I put up the number and the size he wanted, and he bought them from me and my father for many years, always choosing middle-sized three and four year olds, and never going beyond £11 per head. The highest figure at that time for feedingcattle at Falkirk Tryst was about £13. On Tuesday morning he came to my cattle, and inspected them first of any he looked at, and asked their price. With such a customer as Mr Broadwood I asked close. To some parties it is necessary to give halter. He then went away and examined the cattle of other dealers, but always came back in about an hour ; and I think he never once failed to deal with me. He was a good judge, and did not require any assistance in selecting his stock; he came alone.
I had also several dealings with Mr Broadwood's son, but only occasionally, and he did not hold so close to me as his father had done. I also retained the friendship of Robert Walker, the Messrs Brodie, and Archibald Skirving, and secured for myself that of Mr Buist, the late William Kerr, the late John Slate, and John Dudgeon, Almondhill. My father and I always had about the best cattle at Falkirk Tryst.
There was then a great trade with Cumberland at the Michaelmas Tryst for horned Aberdeen cattle. The animals were sent from Cumberland to Barnet in spring, and sold off the marshes fat in July and August. My best sixty generally commanded the highest price. · The late Mr William Thom was my great opponent in the horned-cattle trade, and sometimes beat me despite all my efforts. When we saw it for our interest we went in company, and attended all the great fairs in the north ; and in conjunction with each other we secured a good proportion of the best cattle. Our grazing cattle were always sold separately. Mr Thom must still be remembered by many. He was a giant in strength: an honester man never lived ; perhaps a little decided in bis manner, but of great ability and perseverance. As copartners we were not very regular book-keepers, and our accounts got confused. At the wind-up at Hallow Fair, as we had the accounts of the Falkirk Trysts likewise to settle, we worked at them for days, and the longer we worked the more confused they became. To this day I do not know in whose favour the balance was. For the future we resolved to act separately. It was a bad Hallow Fair for large cattle. I have doubled stirks at Hallow Fair, buying them at from £2 to £4, and, to use an Aberdeen expression, turning them heels over heads. But I never could make a shilling of profit out of large cattle. At Hallow Fair Mr Thom and I had unfortunately sixty very large cattle left over unsold from the Michaelmas, many of which had cost £13 and £14 in Aberdeenshire. Mr Thom had the selling of them. He had just one offer in the shape of three gentlemen-one from East Lothian, one from Fife, and one from Perth, who likewise joined. They were sold the next day at £12, 5s. a-head. After the bargain was struck, the gentlemen requested Mr Thom to divide them. His answer was, with a sarcastic look to his customers, “ Well, gentlemen, you have been good and great friends for two days, it would be a great pity for me to make you quarrel now.” Mr Thom, who was thoroughly 66 awake," turned upon his heel and went away. I divided the beasts for the gentlemen ; and to divide a lot of beasts equally is not such an easy matter as. some might suppose.
I have often been puzzled in dividing, say, forty beasts into four tens (I had often to divide lots of cattle for my customers when I was in the lean-cattle trade). The cattle are first cut through as equally as possible ; the two divisions are then cut through again, and you have thus.four tens. They are then examined, and a good beast is exchanged for a bad from the best to the worst side, and so on alternately until you bring them as equal as it is possible to make them. But with all my experience, I have often been unable to satisfy myself of the equality of the four tens; and when this was the case, I had to decide what was the difference and tell the buyers. If you draw, say, No. 1, being the most valuable lot, you must pay to the gentleman drawing No. 2, an inferior lot, the sum of £2, £3; or £5, as the case may be, &c. This may seem strange to a good judge of cattle, but let him be called on himself to decide in such a case. He may naturally think a change of a beast will make all right, but he will find that in some cases no exchange will rectify the matter to his satisfaction. In connection with this let me offer my friends a piece of advice :—if they buy a cut of cattle from a dealer, say twenty out of sixty, a neutral party and a good judge ought to divide the cattle : it should not be the buyer, and much less ought it to be the dealer, because the seller knows the beasts individually ; and however well you drive sixty cattle round the circle, there will always be a better and a worse side. The dealer sees this at a glance, and, if so inclined, can make the cut much as he likes. The buyer, again, if he is as good a judge as the jobber (which is seldom the case), if allowed to cut them, would be likely to make a good cut for himself, and not a fair one for the seller ; but the difference will not be so glaring, as he cannot know the beasts as the dealer does. I am speaking always of a fair cut as sold from the sixty. It is not easy to explain in writing how this division is made; but as there is no doubt many a
one has been bitten, I shall do my best to describe the process. Suppose the sixty beasts are well driven through one another, which is always done before a cut is attempted, and suppose the dealer is to cut the cattle, he merely gives the lot a glance; he can see in a moment the strong and the weak side, for there will be a difference. He will run off the twenty from the worst side of the sixty, and he will run the number off to a beast or two. It is very quickly done; the stick is used sharply, and in running off the twenty he can easily put six or eight of the best in the line to any side he may think fit. I do not mean to say this is often done, but I wish to show that it can be managed.
In selling lean cattle there is a great deal to be gained by choosing a favourable stance and showing them off properly to the buyers. Cattle look best on the face of a moderate sloping bank, and worst of all at a dead wall. The larger the number shown in a lot, especially of polled cattle, as they stand close together, they look the better. I never liked to show less than forty in a lot, but sixty will look better than forty, and eighty better still. I never would break a lot of beasts except for a consideration in price, as the cattle left behind never have the same appearance. The dealer likewise knows that cattle look largest on the off-side. Many buyers like to see every beast in a lot go past them; and if the dealer can get the buyer to inspect them on the off-side, it is to his own advantage. Cattle and sheep are the better of a good rouse-up when the buyer is inspecting them. I have often seen quarrelling between the buyers and the drovers, the buyers insisting on the drovers letting them alone, while the drovers will not let them stand. I have seen a clever man keep some of the best beasts always in view of the buyers, a stick with a whipcord being used for the purpose.
Many were the long rides, the late nights, and early mornings that Thom and I had together in the north
buying drove cattle. In the end of October and beginning of November the nights get very dark. At Skippy Fair of New Deer we nearly came to grief two or three years in succession; it is held in the end of October. There was a decent man, Abel, and his wife, who lived in Inverurie, and attended all the fairs. Their conveyance was a cart. They were honest hardworking people, and good judges of cows. They knew very well what they were about; and they required to do so, for Mrs Abel brought up, I believe, nineteen of a family: she was a very stout, “motherly” woman. They drove home likewise in the cart, always buying two cows, which they led with ropes behind the cart. A cart with a cow attached by a rope at each side will take up the greater part of a narrow road. It was very dark, and near the old Castle of Barra. Thom rode a very fast horse he had hired from Richard Cruickshank, a celebrated judge of horses, who was at that time a horse-hirer in Aberdeen. I rode an old steady pony of my own which had been sixteen years in our family. Thom was going before at a dashing pace, I considerably in the rear, when bang he came against the ropes attaching the cows to the cart. His horse was thrown into the ditch; he recovered himself, but fell again, coming down heavily upon Thom, who was very much hurt, and had to go home instead of going to Potarch Market next day. I escaped, Thom's mishap warning me of the danger. At the same fair next year we had bought, as we found on comparing our books, ninetynine cattle, mostly stirks. It was dark before we got the animals settled for, and we had to watch them on the market-stance. While crossing the lonely moor between New Deer and Methlick, Thom was as usual a little in advance, I following on the same old pony the best way I could close at his heels, when all at once a man took hold of his horse by the reins and asked him the road to New Deer. I observed another man and a box or two lying on the road, such as are used