Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Leonard Bootes - Drover

A few weeks ago I met Boyce Bootes, the son of Leonard Bootes , the drover in the photograph of 11 June . Boyce came into the library to share his memories and experiences and brought with him some of the photographs he had from his childhood.
Boyce learnt to ride early - frequently thrown but never with any broken bones. He clearly remembers going droving with his family - during school terms he would wait for the holidays then join his family by either train (if the mob had passed Tumut) or the mail car (to Tumut) .
Boyce's most memorable droving journey as a child was when they moved a very large mob of sheep - there were 30 horses , Boyce's six brothers, his mother as cook, and six extra paid drovers.
The wagon in the photograph was literally their house. They carried cooking implements, and there was a dog box under the cart - which was partitioned off to carry up to six dogs, depending on the amount of stock.
Food on a droving trip was a major concern. Mrs Bootes would cook stews and chops, and cakes called "brownies" which were a lot like fruit cake. They also bought vegetables along the way, and took some with them, pumpkin and carrots and potatoes. Whenever they took a mob they also arranged with the owner how many they could kill along the way for meat.
The dogs had shoes for summer and winter if they got sore feet - but according to Boyce summer was worse for damage to the dogs feet.
Len Bootes lived in San Isidore in later years, and kept his droving kit, mostly droving sheep, because he felt the cattle were too hard on the horses. Later on he bought a caravan and ute, and kept droving until retirement when both Leonard and his wife were in their sixties.
It was a real privilege to listen to Boyce talking about his experiences. Having that background information made the story behind the people and animals in photograph very real and moving.

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