Banjo Paterson

The Mountain Squatter

Here in my mountain home, On rugged hills and steep, I sit and watch you come, O Riverinia Sheep! You come from the fertile plains Where saltbush (sometimes) grows, And flats that (when it rains) Will blossom like the rose. But when the summer sun Gleams down like burnished brass, You have to leave your run And hustle off for grass. 'Tis then that -- forced to roam -- You come to where I keep, Here in my mountain home, A boarding-house for sheep. Around me where I sit The wary wombat goes -- A beast of little wit, But what he knows, he knows. The very same remark Applies to me also; I don't give out a spark, But what I know, I know. My brain perhaps would show No convolutions deep, But anyhow I know The way to handle sheep. These Riverina cracks, They do not care to ride The half-inch hanging tracks Along the mountain side. Their horses shake with fear When loosened boulders go With leaps, like startled deer, Down to the gulfs below. Their very dogs will shirk, And drop their tails in fright When asked to go and work A mob that's out of sight. My little collie pup Works silently and wide; You'll see her climbing up Along the mountain side. As silent as a fox You'll see her come and go, A shadow through the rocks Where ash and messmate grow. Then, lost to sight and sound Behind some rugged steep, She works her way around And gathers up the sheep; And, working wide and shy, She holds them rounded up. The cash ain't coined to buy That little collie pup. And so I draw a screw For self and dog and keep To boundary-ride for you, O Riverina Sheep! And, when the autumn rain Has made the herbage grow, You travel off again, And glad -- no doubt -- to go. But some are left behind Around the mountain's spread, For those we cannot find We put them down as dead. So, when we say adieu And close the boarding job, I always find a few Fresh ear-marks in my mob. And, what with those I sell, And what with those I keep, You pay me pretty well, O Riverina Sheep! It's up to me to shout Before we say good-bye -- "Here's to a howlin' drought All west of Gundagai!

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