sheep farm



S: How um you’ve spoken to me about this story before, but relate it here.

C: Um, well look if you, if you, if you think about what my experience was like spending my days like in the sunshine, in the lucerne fields, which were so lush, and feeding the pigs, and you know, noticing how sensitive the pigs were, and uh, how friendly they were and they would come up to me with their little snouts, and they’d investigate me. And uh, uh I always have had a very strong connection with animals from the time I was very, very young. It was never taught to me, it was just a natural connection that I had. So I was spending my days with the living creatures that I encountered on the farm and it was nothing complex, it was the pigs, it was the, the ants and I remember playing with little leaves in the stream and watching the sheep and the lambs gambolling, and the little lambs I remember how amazed I was, they had these little, little long tails. Their tails hadn’t been docked yet.

And then, one morning, we were walking towards, this sort of corralled off area. You know, and I mean the Afrikaans families they didn’t really speak to you as a child. You know, you were seen and not, you were seen and not heard. And I don’t know how much you were even seen. I mean they knew I was there but they didn’t really notice me, except when I was running off with animals and causing havoc. But I remember, we were just walking along, I don’t know why they didn’t warn me or have the sensitivity to think I’m a city child, I’m, I’m young, I must have been nine, maybe ten, I can’t remember, quite young. Um, we were walking towards the sheep and I remember that feeling I had of happiness seeing them, I, I loved their wooliness and um, the way that they were. And they went in and grabbed one and dragged it by its hind legs and I remember just feeling such a sense of brutalisation, it was just I, I was literally riveted to the spot, I couldn’t believe that I was actually witnessing this kind of, I regarded it as extremely brutal to grab an animal by its hind leg and drag it, you know.

And then, the next thing, they took out a knife and they, it was literally next to me, I mean, I don’t know how they actually could have done that, but anyway. (pause) And I remember first of all the mouth struggling to breathe, and the shock in the animal’s eyes I mean, literally next to me. Was, (crying) so overpowering, the shock of realising I’m dying, you know, this is, I can’t breathe, and seeing it struggle and the, the blood is flowing and then just watch the, hear the sounds, the gurgling sounds and watched the light go out of its eyes (crying). (pause) It’s (sigh) it was terrible. You know and it was so bizarre because, look they grew up on the farm for them it’s normal. You know they slaughtered for the table, they slaughtered for commerce, to make money to live. I suppose, so…

S: You said it was the moment that kind of changed your life?

C: Yeah it did, it made me question everything. I mean I suppose I was too young to be questioning things like that, (laugh). Life, and death and animals and their place in the world and human beings and how they interacted with them. It was terrible. (crying)

S: Can I get you a tissue.

C: No it’s OK. I’ll just (laugh) And I mean I remember them taking it to the back of the house and they hung it up. And I saw some parts of that I don’t know why I even looked. And they stripped it and, and then the worst horror is, it was presented on the table. And now what must you do?

S: Did you eat?

C: No.

S: You didn’t?

C: But I had to. Because it was a very strict household and you were expected to clean your plate. So I had a dilemma. And that’s where I learnt to be sly. I cut the meat into little pieces and I fed it to the dog under the table, which was the only way I could survive that moment. I couldn’t eat it. And I never ate (pause) lamb or mutton ever again.

Image Wikimedia: “Point Buchon Trail sheep” by Teddy Llovet – Point Buchon Trail. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons –…

Dietary Travail ~ The Story of a Young Girl on a Karoo Sheep Farm


…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.

Header Image purchased at Creative Market – Huge Nature Photo Set.