The Evening Meal

The Evening Meal

It was pretty hot by the time we drove into Georges wind mill and it was near midday. Close to a century in the old temperature language, and as often at that time of the day in the heat the black crows were circling high in the air, on the thermals – especially if they have specific reason. The site was pretty awful as we drove in, and I could hear Dad’s swearing low under his breath, as experience in the bush gives you an inkling of what you may well expect to see.

Dad always hated the situation of animals suffering, because of mans actions, directly or indirectly. He used to say, we put the livestock in this position and it is our responsibility to make sure they’re looked after. It was something I always respected about him, although we didn’t always agree on everything. But you don’t really have a say, do you when you’re six or so, even if you figure you may happen to be right. As we got closer, the sheep in the distance that came into view were very perished and dehydrated to say the least, and four paddocks ran into corners at George’s mill, with fair numbers in each.

It’s hard to explain in words but the visual site is awful. The emaciated sheep are walking very slowly, almost painfully in thesearing heat and their normal running about is out of the question. Their flanks are hollow and their bare shorn skin seems to be drawn into their centre – like a magnet has sucked all the moisture from them and left just an empty shell of skin and bone, the hide just hanging off hip bones, like clothes off a scarecrow. Most camp in the shade out of the draining sun, but on this occasion some were hanging close to a pathetic little shade closer to the water trough, just made from a couple of lengths of inch and a half water pipe, running across the centre of the water trough to stop stock jumping from one paddock to the other, whilst drinking. They hung their heads close to the ground, and occasionally flicked their ears from the annoying flies, and that showed the only limited movement.

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