The reaping machines have now got well into the marrow of the county’s crop of grain, and before next week is over the “maiden” will have been gathered in on every holding. All the threshers are af work, and every farmer and threshing machine owner has obtained his full complement of men. Still, there are a large number of harvest workers still unemployed who came to the district in the hope of obtaining work. This is not to be wondered at, seeing that the recent scarcity of employment has added greatly to the large gang that invariably makes for the country districts at the approach of harvest. The wages this year have not beau up to those of previous seasons, and some of the more independent of the men have not taken any engagement at all, while the farmers have been able to make a choice of the best bands amongst the largo number who rushed the district, and, as a result, those known to be incompetent or inferior, have been left to fill the ranks of the unemployed. There are many industrious and respectable men, both amongst those who have not seen fit to take work, and those who have not been able to find it. There are also some incorrigible loafers who don’t want work, and usually do their very best to avoid taking it. These drones make their appearance here regularly every year, and go through the same programme. Sometimes they vary the scene of their loafing, and spend a harvest season in some other grain growing district, but they never include a harvest’s work in the list of their doings. These characters usually hang about until the more industrious men come in from the farms with their cheques, and set about the inevitable “ knocking down ” course which too many of our laboring men, alas ! have not yet learned to avoid. When the men come in and indulge in their idea of a jollification—that is, a debauch of liquor—the .loafers commence their harvest, and the poor fellows, who have, worked hard for their cheques, find themselves very soon lighter by a large sum than when they came into town. The loafers and ne’er-do-wells are mostly well known to the police, and we would advise our officers to watch them. To use a Yankee phrase, Sergeant Pratt’s “ eyeballs are pretty well skinned,” and if the hangers-on are not “ run in ” before they have time to do much mischief, and kept out of the possibility of coming down on the soft ones’ hard earned money until it has found its way to the fulfilment of its legitimate mission, it will be no fault of. the sergeant or bis constables.
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 64, 21 February 1880
LOAFERS. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 64, 21 February 1880
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