No farm girl
My mate Kirsten grabbed my arm,
“Let’s go out to the shed, Dad’s going to kill one of the sheep for mutton.”
Kirsten’s farm was big and serious compared to ours which just had horses and goats and chooks. Dad killed some of the baby-boy goats once but we definitely hadn’t been invited. Not wanting to sound scaredy cat I agreed. We chucked our gumboots on and ran over to the cowshed with their dog, Tip.
Kirsten’s Dad was pushing a sheep through the run. We climbed onto the metal gate to watch the action and the round bars felt cool against my hands. He had the animal in the shed now. She kicked her back legs as he dragged her into the stall. Little blasts of grunting noises exploded out of her. He hoisted her up against his raised knee, his hand held the killing knife to her throat.
It happened so quickly. The knife arm swiped from left to right. Her body gave a jerking lurch then was still. Except for a back leg that kept circling round. I couldn’t stop looking at it, why was her leg still moving? Sticky looking black blood started pumping out of her neck onto the concrete. My nose clogged up with the metallic tang of blood and the stink of sheep poo.
Her Dad suddenly swore loudly and kicked out,
“Get that bloody dog away from me.”
I grabbed Tip and dragged him outside to his kennel, where I sat patting him. My hands felt clammy. I couldn’t stop thinking about the alive but dead leg. By the time I got back the sheep had been hoisted onto ceiling hooks driven through fresh holes at the end of her legs. Even a quick glance at these made my stomach roil a little so I whipped my head down, trying to find something neutral to look at among the dead-ness. I spotted all the wool that had been skinned off and was lying on the ground, like a discarded ratty cloak. I plucked a wad of it from the edge of the pelt and it felt oily and dense against my fingers.
Her Dad had made a big slice down the middle of the carcass and coiled guts suddenly slopped out, along with a putrid aroma of stewed grass mixed with farts. My own guts heaved in response.
“Kirsten I’m just going to see if your Mum has some lunch for us.”
Without waiting for an answer I slunk off back to the house.
I was no farm girl.