Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
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As published in
The Sydney Mail & New South Wales Advertiser, 7 February 1906

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2020
Version Date: 2020-04-02
Produced by Terry Walker and Roy Glashan

All original content added by RGL is protected by copyright.

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THE first months of my life were full of hardships and strange terrors. I had four sisters, small and wiry, and fleet as horses. My mother was greatly harassed at times. She would drag us from our sleep near the creek-bed, and skelter along the banks until she found deeper mud and softer rooting ground.

My mother hated to be called a wild pig. She claimed descent from a Berkshire prize-winner. She was not like the comfortable looking farm pigs that live in sties, and are fed on milk and fruit. Her face was gaunt and eager, and her feet were hard as iron through racing over treeless ridges and rock-strewn gullies.

Our first trouble was with the dingoes. Two of my little sisters were snatched away when they were but a month old. There were other wild pigs roaming the black soil flats. Old Furris the boar, with the terrible tusks, was supposed to protect us. My grandmother had run wild, and put a tarnish on our Berkshire name.

Running wild had made my mother bad tempered. The hard bush, the fibrous roots, and the scurrying from place to place make pigs tough and savage; they learn to gallop like horses, and grow tusks. My father had tusks a foot long. He was a great fighter. He would keep us awake at night telling how he had settled a couple of dingoes that came after my little sisters. The dingoes were cowards, he said, backstair fighters, heel breakers, and baby-stealers.

The wild sow with the large family has a hard life on the ranges and flats. The Moree farmers hunted us from the water; they trapped and killed us until Furris the boar clashed his tusks and swore he would get a man on the ground and level up old scores some day.

We were not afraid of the brumbies that grazed on the razorbacks, and thundered through the gullies. They never stayed to look at mother or her five little children. Neither were the rock wallabies afraid of us, although one of them made off in a desperate hurry when mother asked him one day what he was laughing at.

Nothing that jumps in the Australian bush dare look at an old wild boar. He is the best fighter and greatest warrior south of the Dividing Range. We have never met the Cape York buffaloes, but Furris could look after us if we did. I have seen him go through a pack of dingoes like a knife through cheese. Men are not always near when these fights happen. The dingo is too sly, and the wallaby and brumby are too timid to allow a man to get close.

The wild dogs are deceitful fighters. While the boar was chasing the pack one day, half a dozen loping mongrels ran down the young suckers and killed them in a few seconds.

My mother is proud of her Berkshire descent. She is often overcome by a desire to live in a comfortable sty where the food is placed in troughs ready to eat. Whenever she sees her reflection in a creek she sighs and runs away. Her bones have grown large, her snout long and vicious, her teeth sharp as nails, her legs bony as a dog's.

She said her grandmother weighed half a ton, and could hardly walk. Furris the boar laughs at the description of her grandmother. He tells her that a pig of that kind would die in the ranges. The dingoes would harass her, and she would die of thirst. Still, my mother longs for a comfortable sty and a cosy corner for her children. She yearns for a drink of sour milk, or a bucket of overripe peaches, or a bit of corn. She has heard of pineapple and clotted cream—her grandmother put on ten stone in a dairy sty once, and it makes our mouths water when we hear of potatoes and meal.

We have an everlasting enemy known as the Wild Pig man. The rabbit trappers leave us alone, but he is always trying to create a market for us. In one week he caught thirty pigs, chopped off their tusks, and trucked them to the city.

There was a commotion at the auction yard when they were put up. One pork butcher asked if they belonged to the ancient family of rhinoceroses. Another said they might make good bacon if they were fed carefully on dynamite or a little shrapnel, something that would break up the hard sinews and other obstructions. The consignment was a failure. They were sent to the Zoo, but even, the lions sulked when they were presented with an old bush tusker. It was like biting through an ironclad, they said.

Furris the boar advised my mother not to let the dingoes bustle her and steal her suckers. One day a whole pack followed us. They gambolled along the creek, pretending they were playful and innocent. One of them, a stiff-eared pig-stealer, trotted up and asked mother if she would like to play a game of hide and seek among the boulders. He offered to mind her four little pigs while she played. Just then Furris the boar dashed up and lifted Jack dingo into the middle of the creek. The others yapped round to see what was the matter, but the boar broke them

When we were two months old my mother declared that she was tired of her aimless, wandering life. She could never thrive and put on weight in the bush. The last straw came when a fire swept across the country, driving the wallabies, dingoes, pigs, and brumbies over the creek.

My mother lay in the mud, and we crept beside her. The fire swept over us in red crackling sheets; and the bristles on my back curled with the heat, and the sheep—the silly grey- faced sheep—ran into corners and were frizzled up.

'The sheep are sillier than rabbits,' I said.

'Keep your head in the mud,' grunted my mother. 'You'd be roast pork in two minutes if it wasn't for me.'

The dingoes escaped; they always do. Not a wild pig of our acquaintance was injured in any way.

One night, about a week after the bush fire, my mother took us to a pig-farm owned by a man. There was an American log fence around the place, but we climbed over. Some of my brothers were lean enough to have won a steeplechase. We trotted in a body until we came to an elegant sty. My mother thrilled.

'Look!' she whispered, 'at the ladies and gentlemen inside.'

We peeped through the logs and saw several large white pigs asleep. One of them, a portly fellow with a short curly tail, got up and looked at us.

'Who are you?' he asked in a loud voice. 'What is your business?'

'We are bush pigs, sir,' answered my mother tremulously. 'I have come a long way. I have a number of small children, and we are tired and hungry.'

The fat pig examined us through the logs. His left ear flicked once or twice; he appeared to be very sorry for us.

'Your case interests me,' he said huskily. 'But we really don't care for wild pigs about here. We are owned by a gentleman named Bill Adams. 'If he hears your voice he'll make bacon of you in a jiffy.'

My mother protested that she was not up to bacon mark just then. She asked if there was a vacant sty to sleep in. The other pigs rose in a body and urged us to go away. But my mother was determined not to return to the bush and the dingoes and the hard indigestible roots that buckle and twine under the earth.

'Think of the bleak ranges and the wild dogs,' she said to us. 'The frost-covered boulders and the spear grass that gave me indigestion,' she whimpered. 'Oh, why did my grandmother run wild!'

'My good lady,' snorted an elderly white pig, 'for the sake of your family return to your pleasant haunts in the bush. Bill Adams bought a gun last month, and he simply can't stand wild pigs!'

My mother shook her ears with great determination and walked, across the yard, looking for a vacant sty. One after another the farm pigs rose and made cutting remarks about our starved appearance. Each pig referred to his own weight and points, and then advised us to go.

'I hope you ain't a relation of mine,' grunted a young imported American hog. 'And if you dare to say that I'm your nephew, old lady I'll send for the police.'

'Nephew of mine!' All my mother's Berkshire blood rose within her. She glared at the young American through the logs. 'You! Why, my people were taking prizes all over the world when your father and mother were squeaking in a Chicago pork factory.'

With a cry of satisfaction she suddenly ran into an unoccupied sty and gathered us around her. It was a nice cool place with a trough of water at one end, and a bed of clean straw at the other. At daybreak a red-faced man wheeling a barrow across the yard stopped suddenly and stared at us open mouthed. Then another man ran up and looked at us,' and laughed.

'More grunters,' he said in a terrible voice. 'Bones on 'em like racehorses.'

'Bit of the Berkshire about the old woman,' said the man with the barrow. 'Funny how they put on bone and snout running wild. There's enough hoof and hair on 'em to start a brush and glue factory!'

'Feed 'em, and they'll cure and smoke all right.'

'Bit tough,' laughed the other. 'They'd break up a steel sausage machine. Still, they might blow out and soften on a milk diet,' he said reflectively.

'Hear that?' whispered my mother to us. 'A milk diet!'

Later in the morning a boy threw a bucket of turnips and pumpkins into our trough, mixed with a little corn. Mother spoke to me confidentially with a turnip in her mouth.

'They've decided to keep us,' she said. 'Wait till the milk comes, and you'll see me fill out. I'll show them what the real Berkshire strain is like!' When the first bucket of sour milk did come, mother lay down with tears in her eyes.

'My children,' she said, 'this is the turning points of your careers. Your future is assured. Thrive and let the scales speak for me and yourselves.'

The other white pigs never speak to us. They call us wild hogs and racehorses.

'Keep your temper,' says my mother. 'Your time is coming. In three months you won't be able to walk across the yard!'

Mother slightly underrated us. Within eight weeks a man came and took our photographs.


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
Go to Home Page
This work is out of copyright in countries with a copyright
period of 70 years or less, after the year of the author's death.
If it is under copyright in your country of residence,
do not download or redistribute this file.
Original content added by RGL (e.g., introductions, notes,
RGL covers) is proprietary and protected by copyright.