As a treat today, I have John Holland, Author of Dry Bones, #1 bestseller, Amazon Kindle Poetry Australia and Oceania.
Welcome, John, and thank you for visiting Wild and Wicked Cowboys.
John, your book has drawn a lot of attention and great reviews. The first thing that drew me to your book was the title and cover. Can you tell us how the cover art came to be?
I can’t take credit for that. It was chosen by my publisher Lazarus Media. I was happy for it to be used however.
I think it suits the title and the book.
John, in addition to being a poet, your interesting bio says you were a stockman, which I now know is an Australian cowboy. We’ll get more into those nuances in a minute and at the end I’ll provide links to Dry Bones and to a review on the blog of fellow romance author Nia Simone.
Today, I’d like to focus on your cowboy experience. Let’s start with something simple. Did you wear cowboy boots when you rode? What are they made of?
Yes. R.M. Williams riding boots with a Cuban heel. They are leather.
No. Australian stock saddles. The Cox poley was my favorite.
Did you lasso the cattle ever?
Rarely. The only time a rope was used much was to rope unbranded cattle and drag them to a wooden panel called a “bronco panel” for branding etc.
Ever do a rodeo?
A couple of times when I was very young.
What do you think of rodeos?
They can be a great spectacle. But rodeo is now a spectator sport and no longer mirrors actual station (ranch) work.
What’s the difference between being a cowboy in Australia versus, say, Montana, you think?
I think the main difference is that cattle stations here are huge by comparison. The climate is a big factor too.
How many other cowboys did you work with?
This varies immensely. A stock camp in the Northern Territory might consist of a Head Stockman, a cook, a horse tailer (wrangler) and a dozen ringers.
The term “ringer” is used more commonly in the North for a stockman (cowboy).
How long is a drive? How long are you out there for?
A cattle drive is known here as a “droving trip”. But this is to describe long trips to market. Station work with cattle that takes place on the station itself is called “mustering”.
Did you camp?
Yes. In the north you could be camped out for weeks. Even months sometimes.
Is it all guys around the campfire?
Not always. But that was the case in my experience.
What do you talk about?
Just about anything and everything. There were some very well read people there.
How hot does it get during the day?
You try not to work cattle in the hottest times of the year, but summer temperatures are commonly over 100 degrees.
Did you carry your sleeping bag in a roll on the back?
No. Your swag (bed roll) is usually carried on what American’s would call a chuck wagon. Motorized these days of course. In the past pack horses were often used to do the same job.
Did you love your horse?
Is there a ranch house?
Yes. It is called a homestead here. On big stations it is almost a small village. Big stations (ranches) might also have several “out stations” each with it’s own homestead and out buildings.
Who was your employer?
Often an absentee owner who employed a Station Manager to run the place for him/her.
How did you feel about him/her?
Not always kindly.
Do dogs go on the rides? (Term for rides…?)
Dogs are used for mustering and for working cattle in stockyards.
Dogs around the ranch house?
Cats? Indoor cats or all farm cats with a job to do?
Other pets Americans have never heard of?
You would have heard of baby kangaroos and parrots. Sometimes there might be a pet Emu or Plains Turkey raised from a chick.
How big was the ranch? (Acres)
The biggest station I lived on was Coolibah Station in the Northern Territory. It was several million acres in area.
It is still about 1,800,000 acres. But only about half the size it was when I lived there. I was a child and my Father, Jack Holland, was manager. It was owned at the time by the meat canning company Tom Piper.
Did you ever let a woman ride behind you in the saddle?
No, but I would have been happy to.
How many months a year did you work?
Most stockmen were employed full time. But cattle work was confined mostly to the cooler months from April to September.
At other times you would be mending or building fences and any one of a multitude of other jobs that need doing on stations.
How many days in a row?
If you were out mustering you worked every day for several weeks at a time. Around the homestead it was usually 6 days a week.
Thank you for visiting with us today, John, and congratulations on your release of Dry Bones.
Here are the links and please feel free to ask John some questions.
Nia Simone’s review: http://niasimoneauthor.com/2013/01/29/cowboy-poet-book-review-dry-bones-john-holland/
Link to book at Amazon Kindle: