Friday, January 4, 2008

Waltzing Matilda, well kind of...

Story number one....
(See this post if you're wondering why I'm suddenly regaling you with stories of my childhood)
Now to set the scene:

The time: Sometime in the early nineties? Maybe? I can't recall exactly.

The setting: The family farm, rural Australia.
So droughts suck ass and during a period of my childhood we came to fairly tough times courtesy of that horrible little boy called 'El nino'.
Extended periods of drought brought on an almost complete collapse of primary industries, at least in our local area where 95 percent of farmers relied on irrigation to grow crops, feed stock etc.
It was a pretty grim time. The farm looked like more like a tattered paper bag. Brown, creased and bleak, the ground torn open by the burning hot sun.
All our crops were dried up and dead and we had to buy in feed from Queensland i think where they had a tiny bit more rain and were able to grow enough grain to sell.
We were only barely able to feed our numerous flocks of sheep and even then the heat took it's toll and many died from exhaustion, lack of water or hunger.

So enough of the scene setting.

I'll cut to the chase. This story is about my dad giving mouth to mouth resuscitation to a sheep.

In a small gully in one particular paddock, there was a tiny mud pool; the only remains of what was once a babbling little creek which used to flow through the property.
One day we were riding down to check on the sheep when dad pulled off to the side of the track, jumped off his motorbike, ran over to the fence clambered through and began wading into the knee deep mud.
I pulled up on the four wheeler (or quad bike for those of you whole call them that) thinking dad had finally lost the plot.
And it turned out he quite possibly had.
Turns out there is this dirty, mud caked ewe stuck in the mud, it's head partly submerged, it's back legs just sticking out to it's side, flailing. The sheep was drowning in the mud. Nasty.
So as dad's wading out into the mud, the sheep stops moving. I was only little, maybe 8 or 9, and it was a little disturbing and even upsetting. Thinking about it now, it was all kinds of symbolic in terms of the whole drought situation.

I was pretty upset as this poor sheep had just drowned in the mud, but dad waded out, grabbed the sheep and dragged it back out to the edge of the muddy pool.

So for me that was game over. Dead sheep. Oh well. There's still a few more around the place. No big deal. Apparently, I wasn't fully understanding of the situation. Little did I know that the financial situation was so dire that we needed every sheep we had and that things were ALOT more desperate than i had thought.
Like, wrap-your-lips-around-a-muddy-dead-sheep-and-pump-it's-soggy-
woolen-chest desperate.
Which is exactly what happened.
I looked on in amazement as dad channeled Hasselhoff and proceeded to give this ganky looking sheep the kiss of life...
After some time, the sheep kind of shook a bit and moved it's head a little. Dad was rapt. I was dumbfounded.
We carefully draped the barely conscious glob of animal over the back of the four wheeler and I drove it back to the hay shed where we built it an impromptu enclosure out of hay bales.
We then brought it some water and some feed.
For me life went on, I had school to go to and sandpits to dig in and whatnot...
A few days later the sheep died. Dad suspected pneumonia. I thought it probably was too old anyways. Dad said i was stupid and told me it was pneumonia. He wasn't very happy about it and i thought it best not to argue with a man who's willing to kiss a sheep.
A man who kisses a sheep has nothing to lose.

I find this all funny now and I've brought it up with Dad, who just mumbles and shakes his head dismissively. He probably doesn't appreciate me going "Hey Dad, remember the time you made out with a sheep?" in front of well, anyone actually.

Next Story: Pets- The Musical.

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