…this is a true story of misadventure on a small Karoo, South African, sheep farm. a young girl comes to think about eating, what we eat, and why. i thought about life and compassion. i vividly remember this experience even today. this was the beginning of my journey to a vegetarian and vegan life-style. all living things want to live and be happy…
As a city girl of around 12 years old, (and younger), I used each year, to travel with my grandparents, by train, all over the country to visit family members. This each December.
I love the Karoo sheep farms and the life there in those days. Wide open “stoeps” with gas lamps at night, in some places only candles, and the sound of the milk machine in the cold early mornings “ting tinging” in the dark. I loved to cavort with all the animals, watch the cows being milked, the cats coming for saucers of milk. How I loved watching the sheep and the lambs, the little mice scampering amongst the grain bags in the barn. I lay in lush grasses, played with ants and fed lucerne to the large, lovely, pink pigs. I was struck by how smart and responsive they were.
As it happened on one of the farms, we walked one day towards the sheep. Unsuspectingly I watched. One sheep was singled out and dragged by the hind leg to a place close by where I stood. My idyll began to fade as my sense of shock and horror grew. It was so quick. The blade glinted and passed across the throat of the sheep. I was riveted to the spot. I saw it struggle, I saw its eyes widen in shock, I saw it, so beautiful, struggle to live. The light went from its eyes. I shriveled to a husk.
The process began. The detail I will spare you. A strung up carcass, stripped and fed to the table on plates. Beside myself in this strict household, I could not fathom that now I should eat this living being, who not long before had lived a happy life in a carefree field. What to do? I cut up small pieces and fed them carefully and slyly to the dog under the table. This was the start of my questioning and I never again ate mutton or lamb, nor did I feed it to my children.
So began my life-long questioning, “where would I draw the line”? It causes you to question many things. From what you eat to what you buy for your household, to what you wear and who you support.