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in the purchase of flocks; the manufacturer, too, looked more to the quality than the quantity; and lastly, other countries had entered into competition as producers of wool. Depreciation followed, and continued, until, in 1843 a reduction had taken place of ninety-six per cent, on the value of sheep, as sold in the latter end of 1838.
The melancholy reverses in private fortunes, and their effect on commerce and industry, can hardly be imagined in England; but the causes which gave rise to them may be easily understood.
To every reflecting and impartial mind, it must appear evident that it is not to obstacles or impediments, but to facilities offered to all who were in pursuit of fortune by a concurrence of most favourable, though transient, circumstances, that these colonial reverses may be traced.
They need create no alarm to those interested in the future progress of the colony. The easy, quiet, and smooth way of passing through life is incompatible with the race to which the settlers of Australia belong. Difficulty of position, labour, anxiety, hard struggles, and all the wear and tear of life, are the elements in which that race thrives, and in which the Anglo-Australians will not fail to thrive likewise, and to work out their own prosperity in the truly national way. As an instance of their readiness to meet any exigency, the Australians, unable, among many other difficulties under which another race of colonists would have sunk, to dispose of the carcasses of their sheep, have hit upon the ingenious expedient of boiling it up for the sake of the tallow, which, as seen in the London market, surpasses in quality that brought from the Baltic.
The field presented to the colonist for effecting improvements, both as regards sheep and pasture, is immense, and providentially remains as a reserve, if not to counteract the present depression, at least to insure a signal success for future speculations.
In accordance with that grand principle of agricultural economy which aims at producing the greatest quantity at the least expense, the settlers will undoubtedly turn their attention towards combining the reduction of their flocks with the increase of the wool. That reduction cannot be too much recommended, not only because a smaller number of sheep is more manageable under the true system of breeding and rearing; but as it is capable of being combined with the increase of the fleece, it may become both a gain and a saving in point of pasture, produce, and outlay.
The pasture, as shown from the nature of the soil and climate, is not of the most luxurious description. It is nevertheless wholesome, and extremely well suited to sheep. Six acres is the least that should be appropriated as an annual run for each sheep.
This run must likewise be properly apportioned, if not by fencing, which is only admissible on a property, and not on squatting ground, at least by preventing the flock from overrunning and picking out the best spots of the whole range.
Now this division of the run, with the object of securing a succession of good pasture, is so intimately connected with the necessity of a division and assortment of the sheep, for the sake of regular breeding and rearing, that the one necessarily implies or follows the other, and causes a mutual reaction of a most beneficial kind.
Those who have visited the sheep farms of Sile
sia, —for instance, Wartenberg, the estate of Prince Biron of Courland, where, amongst a flock of 25,000 sheep, the blood, in breeding, is as rigorously attended to, as amongst the breeders of horses, and where the grazing land is as systematically divided as any series of agricultural fields for rotation of crops, —those, I say, who have visited this estate, will have got an insight into the working of a most admirable system in pastoral economy.
In the United Kingdom, no sheep-farm so much resembles that of Wartenberg, and none can be more strongly recommended to the imitation of the Australian wool-growers, than the farm of Patrick Sellar, Esq., in the county of Sutherland. (Scotland.) From its extensive flock (10,000 sheep), and the range of the run, that farm is able to exhibit the best principles in the management both of the flock and food.
Upon it, the annual increase of the sheep is subservient to the increasing of the fleece and the carcass; while the range of pasture is looked upon, not so much as affording means of numerically extending the flock, as of raising its valuable qualities higher and higher.
Fifteen years ago, when the writer was exploring the north of Scotland, he visited Tongue, and the sheep-farm of Strathnaver, which lays along Loch Naver and the river of the same name. In regard to that sheep-farm, his note-book records the following facts: —
"The mountainous district about Strathnaver revives many recollections of Silesia
"The pasture appropriated for sheep is here divided, like, that in the environs of Lissa or Wartenberg, into a winter and summer run; which, again, are subdivided into as many sections as are required for the assortment of the sheep according to their age, sex, and condition, and according as they are reserved for market or for breeding.
"Thus the sections, twelve in number, called here herdings, are separately appropriated to ewes, rams, ewe-hogs, wedder-hogs, ewe-hogs once shorn, and
wedder-hogs once shorn The greatest stress
is laid on the selection of the tups or rams, and on the sorting of the ewes: this is more carefully managed than in Silesia, or amongst us in the Duchy of Posen. The importance attached to the point may be easily conceived, from the circumstance which I witnessed at Morvich, of every ram and ewe, before being put in a proper herding together, being handled and well-examined by Mr. Sellar himself, who weighed the ewes in his hands, noticed their general size and proportions, then particularly examined the head, neck, breast, shoulder, rib, back, and tail, looked at the quality of the wool, and decided upon the ram, under the number by which he was designated and booked, which should be most likely to counteract the defect found, or still further to ennoble the blood of the future progeny
"The sorting of the lambs, after speening time, is not less rigorously attended to
"The results which Mr. Sellar has obtained by his system are immense, and may be understood by the remarkable fact, that while the fleece of the original Cheviot breed, from which the Sutherland flock was bred, weighs in Roxburgh, on an average, from 2£ to 3£ pounds, the weight of that of Strathnaven averages from 4 to 5 pounds. Again, the weight of a quarter of mutton of the original sheep averages from 12 to 18 pounds, while that of the improved breed ranges from 18 to 26!"
This system of sheep-farming, which has secured to Mr. Sellar such splendid success, combining, as it does, all the most vital conditions of pastoral industry,
is likely to answer best for all the exigencies of an Australian grazier. By the adoption of that system, a reduction of the flock, and an increase of the carcass and wool, appear practicable, and, if successful, will no doubt prove profitable; as, if one flock produces as much as two flocks did heretofore, the profit is obvious, not only in the saving of the shepherd's wages, but also in the economy of pastureBesides the division of pastoral land, which the system of Mr. Sellar involves, and which will most strikingly tend to the improvement of pasture, two other considerations of paramount importance are here offered for the consideration of the Australian settler.
The first is the necessity of introducing a gradual clearing of pastoral land property from the dead timber, that not only obstructs the vegetation, but gathers a great deal of valuable wool from the passing flock, which wool is thus lost. It is astonishing how much may be done to effect this clearing, by employing only one man with a yoke of bullocks. On Formosa, the estate of the deservedly lamented Mr. Lawrence, in Van Diemen's Land, many miles were thus reclaimed, which, before they were cleared, were unavailable for sheep and cattle, by reason of the dead timber alone.
The second consideration refers to the advisability of putting an end to the wilful burning of the sheeprun by the shepherd.
In the Meteorological Section, the fact was rendered evident, that the vegetable matter of the soil is a powerful concomitant of the agencies modifying the absorption and emission both of heat and moisture. Now, local experience and observation have proved that overstocking the country has, together with drought, deprived the surface of the land of the tufted though thin turf, above which the high