In Australia, an ox is referred to as a “bullock” and a teamster is referred to as a “bullocky”. The use of large spans of bullocks was common much later than here in the U.S. and the few remaining “bullockies” still work them this way, very similar to the old “bullwhackers” of the U.S..
Here is a fantastic video of one such bullocky from 1969. It was made by The Commonwealth Film Unit and directed by Richard Mitchell. As I watch, it is interesting to note the similarities and differences with our cattle, equipment and methods here today. I imagine that man was every bit as tough as the thick greenhide plaited whip he is cracking!
“Vic Deaves is a fourth-generation bushman. For as long as he can remember, his family has lived off the land, often as timber-getters in the coastal valleys of New South Wales. Vic is a bullocky, one of the last of his kind. With his team of bullocks he drags logs out of the valley too choked and precipitous for mechanised transport. It’s a way of life that is dying and part of Australian history will die with it.”
My original intent in doing book overviews was to try to help people be more confident in their ox related book buying decisions by giving a brief description and to categorize the book as either a practical guide or more of a history book. Well this book has a lot of history in it but it isn’t a history book full of dates and time lines. If you try, you could glean some practical advice from it but I wouldn’t call it a practical guide. I don’t know how to categorize it other than to call it just plain beautiful! It has just over one hundred pages and all but a handful contain at least one beautiful picture of fine Nova Scotia head yoked oxen and many contain several. Most of the pictures, taken by Terry James, are accompanied by quotes taken from interviews with various teamsters. The quotes make you feel like your eavesdropping on a couple of old teamsters regaling each other about their teams of yesterday and how it was in their heyday The book could easily stand on its own with just the fantastic pictures, and insightful quotes but it does include some text, written by Frances Anderson, colorfully explaining the history and culture of oxen and their teamsters in Nova Scotia. The book is broken up into acknowledgments, preface, introduction, and just three chapters including “EVERYBODY HAD OXEN”, “THEM TIMES, THE CATTLE WAS WORKED”, and “THE CATTLE DO DRAW A CROWD”. This book is like no other. It won’t help you with any training problems and it won’t fill you with bunch of historical facts to expand your ox knowledge but it will certainly entertain you and will likely inspire you!
Here is a very nice interview with a teamster, Leo Bolivar.