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18 April 2005
Meet a bullocky.
FIONA BLACKWOOD: Sandy Richards learnt how to rein in a bullock team when he was just a boy.
The tricks of the trade and the tools used to yoke a team together have changed little over the years.
There's also a timelessness to the language used to communicate with these massive beasts.
FIONA BLACKWOOD: What are you saying to them?
SANDY RICHARDS: Pull back.
They know better than doing that so you talk to them like people.
"Walk back" or whatever.
To start 'em, "Gee" or "Come hither", "Gee" or "Come here", whichever you like to call it.
FIONA BLACKWOOD: What are some of the other commands you use?
SANDY RICHARDS: I better not tell you some of them.
FIONA BLACKWOOD: Do you swear much?
SANDY RICHARDS: Not much, no -- only when they do the wrong thing, I swear at 'em.
FIONA BLACKWOOD: Do you need a whip to keep them in line?
SANDY RICHARDS: Not really, it's just natural to carry a whip.
I think it's just a bullock driver's privilege to have something like that.
FIONA BLACKWOOD: Sandy Richards and his brother Rusty learnt the ways of a bullocky from their father, George, who worked teams around the North-East of Tasmania during the late 1800s.
SANDY RICHARDS: Nearly everyone had a team then, a bit like tractors and dozers now -- there's contractors about.
A bloke at Scottsdale, I think, he had 100 bullocks.
I don't know how many was around here -- but a lot of teams.
The old man had a couple of teams at New England sawmill up here.
FIONA BLACKWOOD: In those days a bullock team was the backbone behind forestry and farming.
RUSTY RICHARDS, BULLOCKY: They've made a lot of living out of them, people have over the years.
Logging, and one thing or another, clearing farms and that.
See they cleared all the farms with them years ago.
FIONA BLACKWOOD: This farm nestled in front of the Blue Tier was cleared by Rusty and Sandy Richards' father and the brute force of a bullock team.
The pair and their 10 brothers and sisters grew up here.
SANDY RICHARDS: SANDY: Fairly tough, but it was good for you.
RUSTY RICHARDS: You had to earn it, them times -- you didn't get it without earning it.
FIONA BLACKWOOD: It's perhaps this tough upbringing as well as a strong connection to the past, which led the brothers to revive the tradition of the bullock team.
To rein in is to control something, or make it go more slowly.
Rein can also be a noun. A rein is a long thin piece of material, usually leather, used to control a horse.
A bullock is a bull that has been castrated.
And a bullock team is a group of bullocks tied together to pull heavy loads.
tricks of the trade
The tricks of the trade are the ways of doing things in a particular job or trade.
To yoke a team of bullocks together is to connect them so that they can share the work of pulling something. Here, yoke is used as a verb.
But note that the wooden bar used to connect the bullocks together is also called a yoke. So yoke can also be a noun.
Timelessness is the state of not changing over many years
very large animals
keep them in line
To keep someone or something in line is to control them and make sure they behave properly.
Example: It was hard work keeeping the class in line.
A bullocky is a person who works with bullocks.
Here, backbone is used to mean the most important part of something. It's a thing that provides support for everything else.
Of course, backbone is also another name for the spine of an animal or human.
Forestry means the cutting down of trees for their wood.
Here, led is the past tense of the irregular verb lead.
more information: lead