THE country from Fochabers to Aberdeen is varied enough. For four or five miles the road winds through the pine woods of the Altash Hills, behind which are the home shootings of Gordon Castle. Careful hedgerows and good steadings mark the Duke’s property, which goes up nearly to Keith, where the land becomes colder, and acre after acre is without a fence, and occupied by a number of small holders on what is called “the runrig system.” Keith is famous for its artificial manures, and we thought of the witches’ cauldronfoot of horse and horn of ram in this case-as we pored over the remarkable bone-heap in Messrs. Kynoch’s yard. The good grazing begins again about Rothiemay, and on to Huntly, where you descend Bogie-street,” and then scale some fine breezy uplands, with heavy bullocks and eternal oats and turnips all round you. Three white horses came dashing down a lane with such verve that they looked for the instant like Herring’s Horses of the Sun. As we neared the “Aughton Forty Daughs (eight-and-forty ploughs), the black-faces began to dot the policies, and we marked the Castle of Balwhino on the winding banks of the Ury. At Kennethmont the soil is poorer ; and then we swept down nearer Inverurie upon the glorious grazing of the Garioch district, which had just carried off the Aberdeen Fat Cup. There were skeletons of fair booths on Inverurie Green, and children enough to make a Malthus faint. Inverurie has a bran new Town Hall, where Mr. Grant Duff, M.P., was about to declare himself at half past seven p.m.; and the head inn at Kintore could boast of a bronze and knightly sign. Fifty blue painted ploughs were awaiting their autumn labours a little out of the town ; and beyond the hill of Tarrybeg we caught a peep of the sea once more, and the very mile-stones changed to granite in honour of Bon Accord.
This is the route if you scorn the rail, and ride to catch the mail-train for the South at Aberdeen but we were not done with the Fochabers district ; and in due time we were once more at the Spey side. We strolled down under a burning sun to Orbliston, and found Mr. Geddes, appropriately enough, among his Caithness gimmers. He has been secretary of the Morayshire Farmers’ Club (which not long since reached its grand climacteric) for upwards of thirteen years, and has fought and won many a hard Shorthorn battle on its Green. Mr. Hunter, of Dipple, who holds the next farm, has a large flock of half-bred sheep, and took a prize with the best cross-bred heifer at Birmingham in 1863. Westertown is also not more than a mile from Orbliston, and its tenant, Mr. George Brown, has been well up in the polled classes at several Highland Society’s shows. He not only bred ” Mulben’s Prince of Wales, but picked Windsor (221) for £40 as a calf at Tillyfour, and sold him for £180 to Lord Southesk, who never repented of his. bargain. Mr. Geddes’s Shorthorn probation spreads over more than a quarter of a century. His first bull was from Chrisp of Doddington, and since then a bull of Colonel Cradock’s blood, and others from Nicol Milne, Douglas, Hunt of Thornington, Turn-bull of Bowhill, Grant Duff, Longmore of Rettie, Hay of Shethin, the Cruickshanks, and Stirling of Keir have found their way into his herd-book. Douglas’s Duke of Leinster, Turnbull’s Hassan (12995), and Stirling Hiawatha (14705) left some sterling traces behind them, the latter more especially in his cross-bred stock, one of which bore its own testimony in the boxes. Young Hiawatha of his own breeding, and British King (19352) by Lord Raglan (13244), and both of them winners in the district, were there; and when we had peeped into every nook and corner of the capital new bothy, where each man has a separate bedroom, our route was once more down the Spey, on whose banks we found Mr. Wainman and a couple of friends in the snuggest of fishing-cottages. People who read up during the show season must fancy that he lives in a perpetual shower of prize pig telegrams from Fisher, but they are very far wrong. He thinks very little of King Cube, Happy Link, Silver Age, and all the rest of them, in comparison with the lemon-and-whites in his kennel, and the treasures of that strangely curved box for the fishing-rods, which is peculiar to ” the throw on the Spey.”
It was far too hot for the hill, and we were Banffbound that night; and on we went by rail through a deep gorge of whin and heather, and passed, a few miles on this side of Keith, the well-known farm of Mulben. Mr. Paterson began in ’45, and keeps about twenty Angus cows and queys. His best tribe is the Mayflower, which is descended from a, quey of Mr. Thurburn’s of Drum, and he has also had a slice from the herds of Lord Southesk, M’Combie, Bowie, Walker, George’ Brown, and Davidson of InchmarIo. Black Jock carried a silver medal as the best polled bull in the Banff showyard in ’54 ; and Mayflower (614) was born the next spring, and eventually bloomed into a two-year-old second, and the first cow at the Highland Society. ” Mulben” has also had his full share, more especially with bulls, of the Highland Society prizes at Aberdeen, Huntly, Elgin, Aberlour and, Dufftown, and other district shows. In ’61 Malcolm (269) took two firsts and a second at the Royal Northern, the Highland Society at Perth, and Elgin ; and when Spey, Fiddich, and Avenside combined at Craigellachie in ’63, his Prince of Wales was the best of any breed. Still Mr. Bowie’s Tom was too much for him in a capital class at Kelso ; but he beat Mr. M`Combie’s Rifleman (325) at Aberdeen the next year, and was also first at Stirling in quite a congress of “Princes,” to which Sir James Burnett and Mr. Hepburn contributed. However, he was parted with in January last, and his son Sultan reigns in his stead.
Pig information became rather more lively at Banff. They had spoken mysteriously in Caithness of the “old pig of the country,” with long ears and body to correspond,, and told us how Berkshires, Windsors, and small Yorkshires, and the large black breed or ” Neapolitans,” which Sir George Dunbar got from Mr. Wetherell, had gradually worked it out. A Chinese pig of Mr. John Wilson’s helped matters here, and so did some boars from, Kingcausie. This county is the pork centre north of the Firth of Forth, and pigs from Aberdeen (whose Lunatic Asylum fed them to such a size that the neighbours declared they were ” as big as stirks “) are all sent up to it for curing and export. The small white cross from England suits best, and carcases from seven to eight stone of 14 lbs. neat find the readiest sale to the exporters, Pork curers from Huntly and Turriff buy them up at that weight ; and although a few pigs are sent by the steamer from Lossiemouth, the majority of them are cut up in quarters, and packed for London in kits broad at the bottom and narrow at the top. In fact, so much is sent away, that the bacon used in Banffshire is generally Yorkshire-fed.
Horse-breeding is also well looked after. We heard of the chestnut presence of The General, whom we last saw cantering away from a large handicap field at Doncaster ; of Criffell, a bay trotter, and of a three-fourths bred carriage sire. Portsoy is the cart sire ” Rawcliffe of Banffshire, and Mr. Wilson’s great ambition is to combine the Black Comet and Emulator strains. The latter was a chestnut, and he and the grey Remarkable (whose powers of draught in the hands of an Edinburgh contractor quite justified his name) were the only foals that Mr. Wilson retained when he had used a Lincolnshire grey from the Ellon country to thirteen of his mares. He kept Emulator till he was sixteen, and Eclipse, a son of his from a pure Clydesdale mare, is still in his stud. Black Comet was by Little Sampson by Sam Clark’s Muckle Sampson, whom Lord Kintore bought at Coldstream and named ” Coldstream Lad.” Mr. Wilson’s show circuit takes in the Royal Northern and most of the local shows in the counties where his horses are stationed for the season, and his grey Comet won the fifty guineas at Glasgow, which was given under the condition that the winner was to travel in Argyleshire for a season. This grey, with the handsome quarters and fine swinging step, was one of the five which were resting from their summer toils at Portsoy. With him were Eclipse, a short-backed black Robie Burns, rather the smallest of the lot ; Tom of Lincoln ; and Inkerman, a well-ribbed brown with a Roman nose, and the first-prize honours at. Inverness on his head. Horses are very cheap about here ; and two very fair ones can be bought for the price of a strong five-year-old yoke ox. On strong land the latter plough best, and we thought how shocked Mr. Atherton would have been if he had seen a Cherry Duke bull at Mr. Wilson’s thus earning his daily rationsand not as the penalty of over-fatness or sluggishnesswith a bullock by his side. The cause of the decline of cart-horse breeding in the neighbourhood was the high price paid for large-sized ones, when railways became general in the South. Farmers were tempted by the price to part with their best mares and fillies, and the size and stamp have never been recovered. It is the lorry system which keeps up the Clydesdale size so. much, as, if they were eighteen-hand Magogs,they would be greedily sought after. The heels and tips enable them to drag such enormous weights ; and in this respect the Edinburgh horses have the advantage over the London ones, who lack them, and are all shod on the late Professor Cole-man’s principle, that the pressure on the frog was essential to the health of the foot, in order to prevent navicular disease. Professor Dick holds, on the contrary that navicular disease arises in the first instance from a strain of the tendon in the navicular bursa, and is not in any way connected with the shoeing. In Edinburgh, you will sometimes see a horse with three tons on a lorry ; and an old blackhorse of seventeen hands once drew a printing-press which weighed with the lorry above five tons, three miles on the rise, all the way from Granton to Catherine-street. Black is as common a colour as any for Clydesdales. Many of the breed are rather small and sour in the eye as well as flat in the rib ; and side-bones, feet flatness, and weak heels are rather common among them. Professor Dickconsiders that most of their ailments arise from too long yokings and fastings ; and colic, distension, and rupture of the bowels are the natural results of gorging at meal-times.
Banffshire has long had yearnings after Shorthorns. Mr. William Robertson, of Stoneyley, got some cows and a bull direct from Holland ; but they were big and rough, and when crossed with the common cows of the country, the coats became papery and the flesh light. It is upwards of forty years since Jerry, a massive white, came as a present to the Rev. Mr. Douglas of Ellon, and worked a great reform. He was bred by Rennie of Phantassie, whose array of white bulls had made quite a sensation when the Highland Society first met at Edinburgh in ’27. The late Mr. Wilson, who was factor to Lord Seafield at Cullen House, had been working up to ’29 with horned black polls, blacks and whites, brindles, and various other local variations on the doddies, and crossing them with a West High-land bull. The crosses, according to the veteran Longmore of Rettie, were “as good as I ever saw go before their ain tails” ; but still Mr. Wilson’s nephew, the present occupant of Portsoy, was quite shaken when he saw Mr. Thomson of Fife’s roan Shorthorn bull ” Comet” at the Highland Society’s show at Perth, and he determined not to leave without him. It is a curious proof how little was known of the breed, that the man who brought him to Banffshire persuaded his new guardian that he would eat nothing but oatmeal-porridge and milk ; and that a Highland judge gave him a prize at Cornhill the next year ” because I never saw the like of him before.” Mr. Longmore would not fall into the new fashion at first, but he soon came round, and sealed his allegiance by buying a white bull descended from Jerry.
The Bank of Boyne is called “The Egg of Banff-shire,” and, as far as Shorthorns go, Rettie is the yoke of the egg. In ’34, its tenant bought Charlotte, a prize cow at the Aberdeen show from Mr. Deacon Milne, and paid Mr. Grant Duff 80 gs. for Jacob (6101) by Holkar (4041). He also got Dannecker (7049) and some queys from the latter, and strengthened his herd from Ladykirk as well. Rosamond, a seventy-guinea purchase, came from Ury in calf to Balmoral (9220) by The Pacha (7612), along with Legacy by The Pacha whose Balmoral bull calf Inheritor (13065) “laid me in well.” What with him, Seafield (9616) by Duplicate Duke (6952), and. Earl of Aberdeen (12800) from Hay’s of Shethin, bull medals began to come in fast at Rettie and there are now six or seven in array on the table.
Imperial Rome (16292) by Lord Raglan from Imperial Cherry was bought from Mr. Douglas as a calf, and begot Viceroy (19054), another of the medallists. : Benedict Balco (14159), who was then out at hire, was included in this 280-guinea purchase from Athelstaneford ; but he ” brought the pleura with him as a compliment” from the train, and it swept down nearly £3,000 worth of stock at a blow. The two bulls weathered it out, and eventually left a large number of heifers behind, which have been crossed – with Sir Charles the Second from Erminstade, an 101-guinea selection at the second Babra. ham sale.
We took a great fancy to a red bullock with a regular Rose of Summer horn, by Imperial Rome from a polled heifer, and but for Mr. Martin’s roan stopping the way it would have been first in the cross-bred class at both the great English Fat Shows last Christmas. Tiptree, one of the many bull-calves which Mr. Longmore has sold to Australia, was the sire of a rare heifer of the same cross which was first in her class at Birmingham and -London in ’6o The herd contains about forty cows and heifers, among which we spent a very pleasant hour, and ended with Mimi, the. dam of Viceroy, who was not on the scale. of some of the others, but still very bloodlike in her looks. Fourteen to sixteen bull-calves and a few heifers are sold annually, and go chiefly into the neighbourhood or abroad.
Mr. Rannie of Mill of Boyndie, about a mile from Banff, is also a bull breeder, but only keeps about ten cows and heifers. They are descended principally from Red Rosebud, bred by Mr. Grant Duff, and in lineal descent from Holkar, Young Alice, grand-daughter of Alice of Ury, and bought from Mr. Morison of Mountcoffer, and Maid of Judah, one of the heifers at the Longmore annual sale of ’54.. He has principally used Omar Pasha, grandson of jemmy (11610 from a Van Dunck cow, and Prince Imperial, a combination of Mr. Longmore’s Inheritor and Earl of Aberdeen blood. It is, however, upon his Leicesters that he has taken a more decided stand, and his farm, of which 130 acres out of 581 are grass, is remarkably well suited for them. There are about 200 pure Leicester ewes, and the remainder half-breds. The Leicester flock was commenced nearly fifteen years since by Mr. Rannie and his late uncle, from the late Duke of Richmond’s, Mr. Morison’s of Bognie, and other flocks. Wiley and Sanday tups were used at first, but the size gradually fell off, and the big and hardy borderers from Chrisp and Cockburn were called in to the rescue. The third prize for ewes fell to Mr. Rannie at the Highland Society’s Show at Perth in ’61 and in the aged ram class at Kelso he separated two of the crack Border breeders-Purvis of Burnfoot and Stark of Mellendeanwith a very neat sheep, which struck us as very good in the forequarter and round the heart, but small by the side of its two rivals. In fact, we never saw three prize sheep which differed so widely in their styles.
Mr. Robert Walker’s of Montbletton is another county stronghold of the blacks. For a quarter of a century he had bred this class of cattle, but did not pay very strict attention to pedigrees until 1850. He had about twenty breeding cows, and had carried all save one of the medals given by the Banffshire and Turriff District Association. Most of his best stock are after The Earl (291), and Tam O’Shanter by Hanton (228). The former took a first prize for him at the Highland Society’s third Edinburgh Show ; and ” Tam,” who was bred by Mr. M’Combie, won the yearling prize at Perth, and eight in the district as well. He has not long been slaughtered, and his sons Sambo and Black Diamond, both of them winners, have been used since. Sambo was sold to the Hon. Col. Pennant last January, to cross Welsh cows, and Duke of Cornwall by Tam O’Shanter from Mayflower (614) has been brought forward. Mr. Walker’s winnings have not been confined to bulls, as his Mayflower, which was transferred to Tillyfour for 60 gs. at the last Montbletton sale, was, first in her class in ” Tar’s” year at Perth ; and his Topsy, which combines The Earl and Tam O’Shanter blood, after beating everything at the local shows, carried first honours in a large class of two-year-old heifers at Stirling, and brought her first herd offering, a bull-calf by Sambo, last New Year’s Day.
The history of the late Mr. Grant Duff’s mind on Shorthorn breeding may be read through the notes of his annual catalogue, which was published every October, Some breeders keep them bound up, and, take to them at intervals for light reading on a winter’s evening. In point of candour, he was a perfect Mechi, and showed all the ardour of a missal hunter in routing among old breeds. For instance, in one of his sale catalogues, which is headed by Forlorn Hope, a Shetland cow, 8 yrs. 8 ms,” we have lot 2, ” a brindled horn cow or Aberdeenshire Shorthorn.” Upon her he observes : ” The breed is now rare ; tradition-ascribes their origin to a cross between the Dutch and Falkland breeds introduced by the laird of Udny ; they have great properties as milkers and feeders.” However, she only made £12 ; and “the brindled polled cow of the old Forglen breed, which gave milk while unbulled,” beat her. Then we have lot 4, ” a grey and black mixture horned breed from the Auld town of Carnousie breed,’ ” His grieve, Mr. William Jameson, considered that the Forglen were generally yellow polled, superior as dairy cows to the polls, and very kindly feeders. In fact, the district claimed to put them quite on a par in flesh ‘with the West Highlander. The breed was at the Forglen home-farm when the Ogilvies were the- lairds, and began as follows. The last Lord Banff’s mother procured two Devonshire cows and one bull, whose pro-duce were for some time kept pure. They were crossed with the native horned breed, and then with the Aberdeen polls, and from them came the fine yellow cows, known as the Forglen breed. Shortly after the late Sir Robert Abercromby came to reside at Forglen, he commenced breeding from the Eden herd, and nearly twenty years of crossing has made the old yellow breed hardly distinguishable from pure Shorthorns. The lady who, introduced the Devons was great-grandmother to the present baronet, who inherits much of her taste for cattle and other improvements.
What seemed to many the mere enthusiasm of yesterday in the late Mr. Grant Duff has proved the wisdom of to-day. He quite rises into prophecy in some of his foot-notes, when he utters a warning voice against overfeeding for shows, disregard of pedigree, and careless crossing. A cross-bred bull was his aversion ;and he gave it as his experience that, although you could not perhaps do great harm by putting a Shorthorn West-Highland bull to a poll or a Poll-Shorthorn cow, the union of similar crosses never succeeds. He never wearied of- proclaiming the virtue of that West-Highland cross with a Shorthorn of which breeders are now seeing the full value, both as regards flesh and constitution. One cross of it was all he went for, and hence his remark that “people have asked me for West Highland crosses in defiance of warning.” He fully allowed that “a good beast is a good beast however come ;” and then he adds, most wisely, “but we cannot depend upon succession, without pedigrees.” Upon. every point he took the public into his confidence, and gave copious reasons for his new belief. When he abandoned .his prejudice against stock by Lord Kintore’s bull, it was “the stock of old Rose that compelled me ; ” and when he began to wean his calves. on oilcake, he only did it ” in deference to contrary opinions.”
His reverence for the English ” Shorthorn homes” and their owners was unbounded. Marquise, a fifty-guinea heifer from Sir Thomas Cartwright’s, seems to have been one of his earliest purchases from them, and she proved cheap at ninety to Mr. Longmore. Alice was bought at Mr. Charge’s sale in the May of ’45, and he tells with no small glee how at the York-shire and Durham County she had beaten Mr. Booth’s Bud or Modish. ‘ Then we learn how ” the grieve was sent for particular information, and perhaps to buy one of Sylph’s descendants,” and how he came back with Lady Love (whose dam Belinda departed to found a tribe at Babraham) for L67 and expenses, but not in-calf. Again did that devoted grieve cross the Border “expressly to bring back Carnation by Benjamin (1710), dam by “Ganthorpe, and so to Foggathorpe ; ” but it was upon the tribe of Brawith Bud, “that special legacy of Peter Consitt to Wilson,” that his best herd affections were set. It was a great story of his, and never out of the footnotes on any consideration, that ” 300 gs. had , been offered Mr. Wilson in his presence for her daughter Carmine, who weighed 98st. imperial as a yearling at Thirsk, if he would only guarantee a calf.”
There was no resisting such Mrs. Armitage proportions, and she came to Eden as a speculative bargain for £77 16s. 7d., expenses included, so that the public were put right on that point to a penny. Brawith Bud was not long in following her for 170 gs. ; and he had the delight of vanquishing at the Brawith sale both J. Booth and J. Maynard, the latter of whom “was heard generally to say that he still thinks her one of the best Shorthorns in England.” This was the great cow purchase of his life, and he was luckily enabled to record of her that she had paid him 100 per cent., was useful till eighteen years of age, and “never a moment unwell, except for a few days in 1848 from epizootic influences, or rather epidemic influenza,” which, as he afterwards observes, ” only confirmed the health and vigour of the patients.” She was of a vigorous, longlived sort, as her sire. Sir Walter was good at sixteen ; and her daughter Jenny Lind, from whom sprang the Kirkhee sort at Sittyton, was rejected along with Mint by Robin-a-Day at Turriff, because their long hair gave the judges an idea that they were crosses from West Highlands. The Messrs. Cruickshank often bought from him, and there was a good deal of joking, when Premium was knocked down to them, with the foot-note “It is more than probable her next will be a bull-calf,” and it proved to be a heifer.
Holkar, bred by Mr. Bates, was a great fancy of his, and he delighted to write of him and Sir Fairfax 2nd as “the rival bulls.” He was so worked up with a desire to possess him that he offered 500 gs. for him if twenty-two bulls and bull-calves by him reached that sum at a sale. They did not, and he got his wish gratified at a much easier rate. Still, Robin-a-Day was his ” Comet ” of the North, and he gave the Formartine district more especially a proof of his good ” Carcase” descent. The price was 44 gs., and both he and Mr. Knox made more than 200 gs., a-piece out of him. We have lingered very fondly over these relics of one who blended so much hearty enthusiasm with his science. Unhappily for us, he had died ten years before we looked on the woods of Eden. ” Jenny Lind, 100 gs (Mr. Tanqueray),” was the highest lot at the roup, and the Messrs. Cruickshank marked their estimate of Brawith Bud with 92 gs. for her Pure Gold.
We bade good-bye to Banff, and got out at the Turriff station for a six-mile walk in search of the only Hereford colony in Scotland, which lies about six miles from the rail, through the heart of the old ” Kintore country,” that “Nimrod” speaks of, in his delightful Northern Tour,” as ” one in which more enjoyment of hounds may be had than in any other that I saw in Scotland.” It held a very fine scent, and many of its best gorses were made by the late Earl. His ” huntsman’s stall,” as he termed it, was at Gask, where he rented a farm, and built kennels and stables at his own expense. Of hounds, horses, and hunting, he was a rare judge, and never were servants better mounted. After his death, Mr. Urquhart kept about eighteen couple, and hunted part of the country for three seasons, and since he gave up, the note of a foxhound has not been heard in it. The country in some parts made us half-fancy that we were near Ashdown, looking out for the coursers ; but the scarlet of Mr. Nightingale is seen there no longer, and the once great Turriff Club has sunk into a very minor affair among a few farmers.
Auchry, with its swans and islets on the lake, and the old-fashioned manor-house, quite aided the Wilt-shire illusion. Mr. Lumsden owns about four thousand acres, and has reclaimed fully a fourth of them from waste and heather. Of this he has laid down about seven hundred acres in permanent pasture, and roups it out annually. He uses Border and Leicester tups on half-bred ewes, and his black Essex pigs are from Sexton. – At the outset he crossed Ury Shorthorn bulls with Aberdeenshire cows, and sold the produce to the butcher at three years old ; but twenty years ago he was smitten with a fancy’ for the Herefords, and has never since wavered. His argument is that they have a thicker coat of soft hair to stand a northern climate, that they can be made ripe for the shambles on mere grass and turnips without extras, and that the cows after the calves are weaned can do well enough on oat straw and water, and thus save the turnips for the rest of the stock. He prefers crossing the Hereford bull with the. Aberdeen ” cross-bred cows, and considers that the produce do not lose their aptitude for fattening, but grow to a larger size than the pure-bred. His favourite instance on this head is of a four-year-old steer, which, according to the London butcher’s certificate, weighed 1,919 lbs.’ neat ; but still he finds that, as two-year-olds and weighing from 7 to 8 cwt., they leave the most profitable return. They have oat straw and turnips till Christmas, and then, we believe, about 3 lbs. of cake per diem till May, when they are sent off to the London market.
His first venture comprised a bull and two cows from Mr. Hewer, and two more from other Hereford breeders. Conqueror, the bull, cost 6o gs., and had three horns. By way of making good his claim shortly after his arrival, he fought a Shorthorn and smashed. the surplus horn, which was seven or eight inches long. Some years after Mr. Price’s celebrated Sir David (349) was purchased for 10o gs., and stayed there three seasons, when Mr. Turner of Noke Court arrived and brought him back to England.
As a proof of the goodness of the cross, he once sent a Shorthorn cow, with her calf yearling, twoyear-old, and three-year-old, all by a Hereford bull, to a show at Aberdeen. Deacon Milne bought the heifer yearling, and said that its beef was so fat that he was ” obliged to send it to London, where they’ll eat anything.” The Deacon also bought the two year-old, and its weight, which decided a wager, was 8 cwt. 1st. and 4 lbs. neat, while the three-year-old after six months’ more keep realized L45. Well might the late Duke of Richmond observe, as he passed down . the ranks and scanned the family party, ” That cow owes her owner nothing.” Mr. Lumsden had lately (1865) had a visit from a kindred soul, Mr. Duckham of the Hereford Herd Book, who bought two heifers for him at the Westonbury sale, and also sold him his bull Cato (1902) for the purpose of stamping the Sir David character on his herd ; but so far the white and mottle faces have made very little progress, and small farmers too often use neither Hereford nor Shorthorn, but some wretched cross with a light body and long legs.
A few years before Mr. Lumsden began, Mr. Mitchell of Fiddesbeg got a Hereford bull and two queys, and imported much more recently another bull in partnership with his cousin at Haddo. Mr. Shepherd of Shethin had also a Hereford bull, but they are gradually giving it up. At Fiddesbeg (which we must take a little out of its order) we found one substantial trace of the system in a .cross-bred bull, which leant a good deal to the Hereford. – He seemed a rare thriver, and was most freely bellowing his dissent from the short commons they were obliged to put him on. A few cows in the herd had retained some of the Hereford colour, and others merely a little white under the jowl and round the eyes. One, in which a Hereford strain on each side had united, was pretty nearly a pure Hereford to look at, and another of a similar cross quite as decidedly Shorthorn.
Thirty miles down the- rail brought us to Kinaldie station, two or three miles beyond Kintore. Mr. Milne of Kinaldie, a well-known breeder, has a. herd of Shorthorns within a very few minutes’ walk of the station, but we had not the good fortune to meet with him. Kinellar is on the opposite side of the rail, and about a mile up the hill. Its tenant, Mr. Campbell, began with Shorthorns from Ury eighteen years prior to 1865, and Isabella by the Pacha, for which he gave 20 gs. at one of the Captain’s roups, was the first that did him substantial service. She bred a calf soon after she was two, and followed it up with eight more, and carried` the Highland Society’s prize at the Mar Association, as the best beast on the ground. Ruby Hill, from the Hill Head sale also did well for him, and Miss Ramsdell by Duke (3630), Nonpareil by Lord Sackville (13247), Theslonica by Duke of Clarence (9040), Crocus by Sir Arthur (12072), and Thalia by Earl of Aberdeen (18200), have all been good breeders. With the exception f Lord Scarboro’ (9064), a purchase at Mr. Wetherell’s sale in ’59, all his recent bulls, Moss-trooper (11827), Beeswing (12456), Garioch Boy (13384), Scarlet Velvet (16916), and Diphthong (17601), have been bought at Sittyton. Beeswing and Garioch Boy, the latter of whom he considers his best, were both by Matadore (1 i 800). ” The Boy ” died very early, and never could be shown for the Aberdeen Challenge Cup, which Mr. Campbell won with Scarlet Velvet and Diphthong in 186263, and then resigned without a struggle to Forth. Scarlet Velvet went to Morayshire, and so to the block ; and Diphthong, a very thick, good bull, with a curious mark like a tape-line round his left fore ribs, was never beaten till he came into that grand class of 21 aged bulls at Stirling, and stood fourth after a very close finish to Van Tromp, Fosco, and the Worcester Royal winner Duke of Tyne. There are about 40 cows and heifers in all at Kinnellar, and Prince of Worcester (20597), bred by Mr. Fletcher, has been used of late with Diphthong 3rd. Fifteen to sixteen bull-calves are sold every February, and the top prices in 1863-64 respectively were, Diphthong 2nd 10t gs. (Mr. J. Ross), and The Provost 75 gs. (Mr. J. Suttie).
We then committed ourselves to the guidance of a fifty-nine page catalogue, with red edges, containing 216 females, from Pure Gold to The Gem, and learnt from it that Slayton was thirteen miles north of Aberdeen, and within three miles of Newmachar Station, on the Formartine and Buchan line. The scenery about Newmachar is rather wild and bare; but when you are once fairly among the beech hedges and deep woods of Straloch, where a whole colony of rooks
” Find a perch and dormitory too.”
the chestnut mare with her foal at the corner of the copse, the ivied bridge, and the keeper with his pointers, make up rather a pretty ” bit.”
The brothers Cruickshank, Amos and Anthony, devoted their earliest Sittyton energies to the old Aberdeen poll, under the orthodox county belief that it would grow larger and ripen earlier than any ” beef-cylinder” north of the Tweed, but still their Shorthorn beginning dates from ’37. They went to work in a very cautious way, with a cow in-calf, called ” Durham Countess,” but short in the pedigree withal. Her first produce was a white bull, and then, after rather a discouraging two years’ interval, came a roan heifer, Peeress by Barclay’s Sovereign, of Mason’s Lady Sarah tribe. The latter was second in the cow class, when the Highland Society met at Aberdeen ; but, although she then brought the maiden premium to Sittyton, she never had a heifer calf. Of a trio of red heifers which came next from Mr. Smith of Elkington, near Louth, only one, Princess by Lowdham (10477) ever bred; but Moss Rose by Grazier- (t085) and Carnation by A-la-Mode (725) turned the scale, and their tribes remain to this day. The white Inkhorn (6091) was bought from Captain Barclay as a cross, and was used for two seasons ; when Premiere (6308), another of Lady Sarah’s (” the stang of my trump,” as the Captain termed her, and a 150-guinea purchase at Mason’s sale), was bought to replace him. This was also the figure which Messrs. Cruickshank subsequently gave for Fairfax Royal (6987), of Mr. Torr’s breeding, at the Walkeringham sale, and the Premier and Inkhorn heifers, for whom he was destined, amounted with others to about twenty-five.
The Ury sale in ’38 added largely to the herd, and Clara by Mahomed (617o), her heifer Barcliana by The Pacha (7612), and Strawberry by Second Duke of Northumberland (3646) were among the accessions, and all founders of tribes. Fairfax Royal’s stock turned out well, and his son Prince Edward Fairfax from Princess was used for a season, till Velvet jacket (10998), a first-prize winner at the Highland Society and at Aberdeen, took his place for another, and then departed across the Channel to Mr. Latouche. Matadore (11800) introduced Booth’s Hopewell blood, and won wherever he was shown, and after doing good Slayton service in the shape of a fine harvest of roans, he was living, in his sixteenth year, at Mr. Allan Pollok’s in Ireland, and was even a prize-winner at thirteen. His son Lord Sackville (13247), from Bar, cliana by The Pacha, went on till he was in his sixth season, and got some capital cows, but nothing has made his mark more profusely and decidedly on the herd than The Baron (13833) by Baron Wallaby, from Bon Bon of the Sylph tribe.
He left upwards of two hundred calves, and at one time forty-five females in the herd- were by him, principally from Matadore cows. Mr. Cruickshank only bid twice and got him for 155 gs., at Mr. Tanqueray’s sale. Master Butterfly 2nd (14918) had quite as fine a chance during -the twelvemonth and a day that he survived his 400-guinea purchase at Bushey Grove, but he failed to improve it, and finished up by dying of affection of the brain. His stock were generally red, and Cherry Bell and Clementine the best of them. John Bull (11618) and Lancaster Comet (11663) (the sire of Champion of England (17526), whose stock are coming out well in hair and flesh) have also been on the bull list ; and Lord Raglan (13244), Ivanhoe (14735), Lord Garlies (14819) by Heir-at-Law, Mr. Peel’s. Malachite (18313), Mr. Ambler’s Windsor Augustus (19157), (the third yearling bull at Battersea), Forth (17866), and Sir James the Rose (15290) have been brought Northwards in turn.
Females were gradually brought up at every short-horn sale ; and Watson’s, Wilkinson’s, Grant Duff’s, Holmes’s, Robinson’s of Burton, Speerman’s, Dudding’s, Hopper’s, Car twright’s, Wood’s, Majoribanks’, Towneley’s, Fawkes’s, &c., have all contributed something to the grand Sittyton total. The largest sale at one time has been to Mr. Marjoribanks who took ten heifers in a lot at m00 gs. ; one of them Khirkee, the founder of a most profitable tree. This was followed by the sale of five more, with Pro-bono-publico by Matadore as their esquire, to Earl Clancarty, in Ireland : but now, as a general thing, the brothers only sell a few heifer calves to run out the less valuable tribes, and keep about thirty to supply gaps. They have had as many as 108 calves, and have sold about 80 in one season, as they very rarely make bullocks of them. The annual bull roup was commenced in 1842 with seven or eight lots, and has been continued every October since. About five-and-thirty bull calves, varying from five to nine months, are generally disposed of at it, and five-and-twenty more are the subject of private bargain. At the roup, which is held the first or second Thursday in October far twenty-four in 1861 is so far the highest average. Fairfax Hero, Magnum Bonum, King of Sardinia, Challenge Cup., and Conqueror the top prices in 1847, ’53, ’56, ’61, and ’64 averaged within a shilling of L100 ; and Magnum Bonum still leads at £15 10s.. Vine Dresser and Lord Aberdeen, which were sold privately within. those periods, would, curiously enough, have brought up the average to the same point less a shilling, for seven. Some go to Ireland and the Orkneys, and the rest are scattered over all the northern counties from Caithness to Forfar.
The calves always run with their dams from four to five months if they are heifers, and rather longer, on an average, if they are bulls. Except at Udny Castle there is no old pasture land on the three farms and the whole of the cows and heifers are obliged to be tied up for six months of the year, and kept on turnips and oat straw. Showing is not much cultivated, and training for shows still less ; and, except at the Royal Northern at Aberdeen, the Highland Society, and very occasionally at the Royal English, the herd makes no public appearances. Whenever it does, there is a good old Sittyton rule, that the show cattle must earn a clean bill of health for nearly eight weeks, and a field at the Longside Farm is specially devoted to them.
The brothers reckon upon about a dozen leading tribes. The Fancy tribe from Captain Barclay crossed well with Matadore and The Baron ; and their Orange Blossom produce was both prolific and profitable. From Sunflower of Ladykirk descent came neat but small bulls ; Lord Spencer’s Sibyl nicked best with The Baron ; and Verdant from Chrisp’s of Doddington with The Baron and Plantagenet. The Venuses of Rennie of Phantassie’s blood showed a great aptitude for crossing with the polls Secret had the Bates quality to begin with, and Lord Sackville supplied the substance and improved the head; Duchess of Gloucester, a daughter of Tortworth Chance, brought heifers large in the frame and great in the milk vein, and the bulls of the tribe are after Moir of Tarty’s own heart. Nothing laid the foundation of more prize-winners, or hit better all round, than Captain Barclay’s Strawberry and from Wilkinson’s Lancaster tribe came Lancaster 25th, which was sold with five cows and heifers in a lot at i00 to 150 gs, each to Mr. Barclay of Keevil, and calved the Lord Raglan triplet.
“The Champion ” was at Udny farm, but there were still five or six left for a grand parade at Sittyton. ” Forth ” was roused from his lair, and Anthony Cruickshank took him in hand. Nothing will reduce that wonderfully level bulk ; and even when he had been starved for some weeks, to make him take to turnips, his pipe of oaten straw quite solaced him. He was terribly sea-sick both ways on his journey from Aberdeen to Newcastle (to which he got a fifteen shillings return ticket), and yet his eye was as bright and his handling as firm as ever, after a Sunday’s rest in the show-yard. In short, there never was such a philosophic ” fat boy in Pickwick.” The Czar and Lord Chamberlain, two sons of Lord Raglan, were in the hands of the men; and Lord Raglan, once nearly as victorious in his crusade to the show-yard as his mighty sire beloved of Anthony Maynard, came roaring in the old style round the corner, and kept Amos and his white crush-hat almost on the run. Still it seemed very doubtful whether he would live to see the turnips ; and Edward Cruickshank’s charge, Sir James the Rose, once the great prize heifer getter of AtheIstaneford, was only a grand ruin. There were ten bulls, five here and five at the other farms ; and Grand Monarque, Lord Chamberlain, Sir Walter Scott, and Prince Imperial have taken the place of these two seniors, to carry on the great object which their owners have held to so steadily for nearly thirty years” flesh production for the people at large.”
The Smythy Park disclosed a still greener old age in Barcliana, at 16 ; and there too was the venerable Hawthorn Blossom. Seventeen bull calves were grazing in the Top pasture, and all getting their cake twice a day for the October sale. The Corn Yard Park, Well Park, The Naggon, and Lead Park had also, in the words of an author whose name we don’t remember, lots of “veal just tottering on the verge of beef.” As for wheat, four wet seasons had pretty nigh washed it out of the five-shift rotation in these parts. In turnips, the brothers hold faithfully to swedes and Aberdeen yellows (purple and green top) and the potatoes they ” rejoice in” are Irish Cups, with their white and purple flowers, as being especially free from disease.
On our right, as we ride to Clyne, and stretching away over rather a low-fenced level to the sea, are the Formartine East and Buchan districts. Forty years ago, when Marr of Cairnbrogie was in his zenith, “Timberless Buchan” was great in “doddies” , but the Shorthorn has stealthily invested its twenty square miles, and the roans and reds have all but worked out the original blacks and brindles.
The Hill pasture at Clyne was full of heifer calves , and we looked with some interest at Golden Days, the last of the eight Pure Golds. Then we drove on for three miles past the church at White Rashes to Longside, in whose thatched outbuildings on the hill Malachite was once in residence. There was an old “castle near, but it is a delusion and a snare when you get to it, and it is all converted into stalls. How-ever, if our antiquarian yearnings were quenched, we found solace in the Great Field, where twelve of the prize cattle were undergoing strict quarantine. The road to Udny past Cairnfechel and Pitrichie was less bleak than the one we had traversed, and crosses of Shorthorn on Aberdeen were grazing on each side of it. Haymakers were seated in a group under the hay, discussing their brose, and three policemen, with their “minds taen up wi’ affairs of the state,” formed an equally earnest knot hard by. The fortunes of Udny would have formed rather a mournful theme for them, as the old Castle is desolate, and two owners, father and son, had died within the year. In horse-racing England, the inn-sign would have borne the family arms on one side, and Emilius on the’ other ; but the bay has no root in village memory, as he was never in Scotland, and we even forgot him ourselves on entering the stables, in the contemplation of the jet-black Glasgow collars, with the red tuft, the daintily disposed plough gear, and the well-kept brass on the hames.
” We’ve 122 here, calves and all,” said our guide ; so we first ascended the tower beloved of pic-nickers, and caught a bird’s eye view of the objects of our search, as they roamed in the park and fields below. Jamie Fleeman, ” the laird of Udny’s fool,” is the real hero of the place, in Scotland’s eyes. Where one Scotsman knows how ” Buckle steered Emilius, at the speed of the express ” ten thousand have read how Jamie rode on a stick before my lady into the town of Aberdeen ; and his advice to his master to manure a barren soil with factors, ” as they always thrive,” will stick in saecula saeulorum, when the most golden-mouthed sayings of sage or poet find few lips to quote them. His last words, “Dinna bury me like a beast,” went right to the mark as well ; and when years had passed by, they were inscribed on a stone, which was placed over his grave. The tower, where he was wont to make sport for lords and ladies gay, now only cumbers the ground. Its huge fire-places are a mockery, and cook nothing nobler than potatoes or brose in a hoer’s kettle ; and the whole place seemed given over to some faded school decorations. Scufflers, harrows, and ploughs block up the kitchen ; and guano-bags are piled in ” the state bed-room,” which seems about eight feet by four. The planting of the estate is almost as incomprehensible as the brain of its fool. There stands, which, starting from no premises, and coming to no conclusions, merely help to make the fields snug for the cattle.
But it was time to quit these great nursery-grounds of the Caledonian Shorthorn. We had arrived at the Six Gates of Udny, that trysting-place of every elf, fairy, and goblin in the country-side ; the twilight shadows were fast falling on the avenues of which it is the mystic centre, and we did not care to be caught at the revels.