© Donald Crane
Winner, 2014 ‘Oracles of the Bush’ Themed Section, Tenterfield NSW.
Preamble: As all cattlemen know, life on the land can be very tough; floods, fires, years of drought, falling cattle prices, etc.
On top of all that we must contend with another problem...the local Bank Manager.
Mick Dooley was a toiler who was never one to shirk,
While ever light was on the land, while ever there was work.
In cattle yards, or growing crops, in seasons unforgiving,
This was the only life he knew...how Dooley made his living.
But times were tough, the season dry, the droughty wind kept blowing,
His bank account was shrinking fast, his overdraft kept growing.
Till came the day, with debt so large, and interest rates exploding,
His fate seemed sealed, his future grim, and all the signs foreboding.
The banker claimed his ‘pound of flesh’; doomed, Dooley fought to win,
But the bailiff came and turfed him out – and let the banker in.
And so it was, a gloating man, the banker made his entry,
And found himself on Dooley’s farm amongst the landed gentry.
With point to prove and pride at stake he made a flying start,
Bedecked in R.M. boots and pants – at least he looked the part.
He set out on a buying spree this man of verve and vision,
To prove that moving Dooley out had been a wise decision.
‘Twas Ag-Fest where he bought some wire, a chain saw and self-feeders,
Then hastened to a cattle sale to buy a mob of breeders.
He wandered ‘round from pen to pen, perplexed, unsure, confused,
Until he spied a likely mob – the locals seemed amused.
The auctioneer had ‘been around’ – he nudged the clerk and then,
“Three hundred bucks, and thank you Sir, a handy little pen.
Three hundred bucks to start this lot,” the bids flew thick and fast,
From post and gate and tree and air – the banker’s bid was last.
“Five hundred dollars now I’m bid,” another nudge and wink,
And he knocked them to the banker man before he’d time to blink.
The banker to his mates next day proffered a hundred reasons,
Why cows he bought the day before were not beef cows, but Friesians!!
But in the end he was convinced his lack of rural knowledge,
Was balanced by what Dooley lacked – at least he’d been to college.
With pad and pen he worked for hours, he burned the midnight oil,
To estimate the ‘bottom line’, to calculate his spoil.
From sale of culls, two hundred calves, ‘twas fairly safe to bet,
The first year’s ‘take’ – he paused to smirk, one hundred thousand–net.
But counting chickens ere they’re hatched is a folly that we rue,
The banker was to find that out before the year was through.
For as time passed, twelve months in fact, no single calf was sighted.
The ‘bottom line’ was shrinking fast, the banker was affrighted.
The Vet was called, his verdict grim, the banker left dismayed,
The reason that no calves were born – the bloody cows were speyed!
And meanwhile on the farming land – a state of sheer disaster,
A hailstorm wiped the wheat crop first, a locust plague came after.
The pigs and birds and mice and midge and every known pest,
Consumed the oats and sorghum crop, the roos cleaned up the rest!
In future years there’s worse to come, of that there is no doubt,
The banker’s yet to fact the curse of flood and fire and drought.
And as he climbed the learning curve there came a realisation,
The bank was where he felt at home – and not this bloody station.
In retrospect, he did concede, ‘twould have been wiser, surely,
To stay behind the teller’s desk – and leave the farm to Dooley.