the flock

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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: CHAPTER III A SHEARING To find a shearing, turn out from the towns of the southern San Joaquin at the time of the year when the hilltops begin to fray out in the multitudinous keen spears of the wild hyacinth, and look in the crumbling flakes of the foothill road for the tracks of the wool wagon. Here the roll of the valley up from the place of its lagoons is by long mesas breaking into summits and shoulders; successive crests of them reared up by slow, ample heavings, settling into folds, with long, valleyward slopes, and blunt mountain-facing heads, flung up at last in the sharp tumult of the Sierras. Thereward the trail of the wool wagon bears evenly and white. Over it, preceded by the smell of cigarettes, go the shearing crews of swarthy men with good manners and the air of opera pirates. When Solomon Jewett held the ranch above the ford by the river which was Rio Bravo, and is now Kern, shearings went forward in a manner suited to the large leisure of the time. That was in the early sixties, when there were no laborers but Indians. These drove the flocks out in the shoulder-high grasses; "for in those days," said Jewett, " we never thought feed any good, less than eighteen inches high," and at the week end rounded them up at headquarters for the small allowance of whiskey that alone held them to the six days' job. It was a condition of the weekly dole that all knives and weapons should be first surrendered, but as you can imagine, whiskey being hard to come by at that time, much water went to each man's flask ; the nearer the bottom of the cask the more water. " No werito, Don Solomon, no werito" complained the herders as they saw the liquor paling in the flasks, but it was still worth such service as they rendered. The ration at Rio Bravo was chiefly atol...
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