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2-262 (Original)

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This work [i.e. of tail-docking and car-marking in lambing time] was carried on by us, year after year, while the sheep were grazed on the open unfenced runs, but was superseded, to our great relief, when fenced paddocks became practicable; but that was not until a liberal use of strychnine poison had exterminated the native dog; and sheep fences on alienated runs or portions of them could only then be erected in forest country where cheap material, brushwood, logs, or dead wood, was growing or lying on the line. As no compensation was given under any of the Land Acts for improvements, but merely a notice to remove them within a month, it was not at all likely that substantial fencing could be erected till the runs or portions of them had become the squatters' freehold, which was not until some years after the opening up of the diggings and the same number of years after the time referred to in these reminiscences. [283]
Where paddocks could be made a great saving was effected by the substitution of one or two boundary riders for every six or eight men, shepherds and hut-keepers, and the carrying capabilities were greatly increased also. But the saving was only real while the runs remain unalienated; when the grazing lands became freehold, this great saving disappeared and the balance was altogether, and adversely, on the other side. Under the shepherding system, the whole working expenses, shearing included, did not amount to more than £60 per thousand, a little over a shilling each sheep; but when the lands were put up for sale and purchased, at an average of £2 to £3 per acre, there was the interest or rent on the purchased freehold and the substantial fencing to be reckoned, as well as the working expenses, which brought up the cost of each sheep to at least 3/6, at a sheep to the acre, and it has to be good land to do that.