The Wool Buyer

 John Hayes 

 

 

A wool buyer who in spring annually called in

is a bloke I can recall with clarity.

He wandered through the outback on bitumen and dirt track,

to purchase wool from cocky’s such as me.

 

He seemed to know every year with absolute certainty

when the last bale was branded off the board.

It wasn’t psychic revelation but diary information

in his noggin, every year he did record.

 

If correctly I remember, it was usually late September

when this character appeared personally,

from the pub at Dally* to the back blocks of Kalannie

and we welcomed him somewhat hopefully.

 

For it was cash upon the knocker for the cocky or the squatter,

as we battlers often needed cash in hand.

For taxes and deductions for classing freight and auctions,

is blight to every man upon the land.

 

As we negotiated all facets were debated,

of wheat and wool and climate variations,

the cost of farm machinery, tracts of new land clearing,

then interest rates and quota regulations.

 

As the sun rose higher this prudent portly buyer

had yet to make an offer for our clip.

His continuous narration was a host of information

gathered from his customers each trip

A penknife magically appeared, then casually he speared

a bale of Bungaree choicest line.

He pierced several more at random right where he was standing,

then offered me for tops just eighty-nine.

 

He’d examined it for length and tested it for strength,

then tallied the weight in his assessment.

Immediately thereafter gazed up at the rafter

to mentally justify investment.

 

There was a pregnant pause and briefly this did cause

a rift in our smooth negotiation.

I looked the other way as I groped for words to say ,

and I geared up for retaliation.

 

I truly was astounded and momentarily dumfounded,

for this offer was below my valuation.

So I looked him in the eye and said, “It’s worth ninety-five!”

With actions to indicate frustration.

 

He smiled and shook his head then gazed out of the shed

as the gong sounded for the noon day meal.

We invited him to share some of our daily fare,

and we’d continue somewhat later with our deal.

 

 

There was a lull of idle chatter as each laden platter

was gratefully and totally ingested.

But I knew in hours ahead down at the shearing shed

my artfulness surely would be tested.

 

As we parried to and fro’, the price tottered just below

a figure reckoned fair for Smith and Co.

With the sun descending the transaction was extending,

and he knew that it was almost time to go.

 

Then finally he stated though it was definitely belated,

he agreed to take the tops at ninety-two.

“That is the final offer and if I must return tomorrow,

it’ll be a penny less my friend to you!”

 

Our mutual approval was followed by the usual

firm handshake to finalise the deal.

When all the wool was weighed the full account was paid,

and my relief I finally did reveal.

 

Then he threw in twenty more as he had always done before

for my cook, who was also roustabout.

I was not at all surprised that he clearly recognised

the value of the lady of the house.

 

Fully loaded to travel on the sand track and the gravel,

rising dust clouds are trailing at the rear.

Like a phantom dream they are captured by the breeze

and in a fleeting moment, disappear.

 

Often I do ponder about these folk who wander

and touch the lives of people such as me.

Perhaps without intention they paint one more dimension

in the chronicles, of Aussie history.

                                                                       * Dally– Dalwallinu

 

 

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