Lambs to Slaughter — Chapter 2

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The fall colours are beginning to highlight the greens with yellow and orange. It is still quite warm out and was over 80 degrees yesterday. My pool is still open and will be for a couple of more weeks. I’m sitting out back, partly because I know that soon it will be too cold to sit out here and partly because it is a beautiful morning.

I still needed to get “on-farm” experience in order to pad my application for veterinary medicine, so I got another farm job. This farm job was with a veterinary student that was graduating that year. He had inherited a family farm and was headed back to that home to establish himself as one of the local vets. A man that worked in the veterinary teaching hospital, at the university, caring for the animal pens made the introductions and I got hired right away.

When I arrived, I landed in a surreal place that was hard to piece together. The house was huge. There were several people that had been living there while the veterinary student had been away at school to help maintain the property and care for the animals. The new graduate had also found several programs and projects that provided funding and made it possible for him to hire other individuals that could come and work for him or for their own experience.

The summer was composed of going on vet calls, caring for the animals on the farm and helping him amass building materials for the new veterinary clinic that he hoped to build on his property. As a new grad, he kept a copy of Mereck’s Manual on the front seat of his truck so that he could review it before he went in to see the animals.

There was a “farm gate” business of selling lambs in the spring. This was a particularly good farm for lamb. According to the families that would come to buy the lambs, lambs raised on a hill were the tastiest. I cannot attest to this fact one way or another, but we regularly had large extended families come to the property to buy lambs.

This was quite the social event. Those most knowledgeable about the best attributes of lamb would select one of the animals to purchase. While this was going on, the women and the children would set out blankets and tables and chairs and prepare a feast. The impression that I always got was that they had travelled a long distance to get there and they were all famished.

The lamb would be slaughtered, hung to bleed and cleaned while the families waited. Some of these aspects can take a considerable amount of time and while waiting, the meal would be served. Once the meat was sufficiently processed that it could be transported home, all of the tables, chairs and food would be packed away and the families would leave.

It turned out that the man that I was working for was somewhat of a lothario. I found myself, multiple times, waiting in the vehicle while he squared up a bill with one of the clients in the house. This became somewhat of a joke and I started to remind myself to bring something to read while in the truck.

I began to wonder how many of the females in the house were sleeping with this guy. There was one small spat between the woman that had lived there while he was in university and a woman that had come to work for the summer, but I did not hear the details.

One long weekend, I had made arrangements to go to my hometown. I had contacted several people to say that I was coming and to ask if I could stay with them. All of the other inhabitants of the house were away that afternoon and the guy that owned the farm had agreed to drive me into the city so that I could catch the train.

At one point he went into his room, which was on the main floor next to the livingroom and laid down. I went to see where he was and when we would be leaving and he asked me if I wanted to come lie down. That was it? This worked for this obviously busy guy? Anyhow, I restrained myself, not wanting to cause any tension between myself and the other women living in the house.

When I got to my hometown, it was as like I had never called ahead. My one friend, that had said that I could stay with her, said that she had asked her mother and her mother did not think that it was a good idea. Really, you didn’t ask your mother when I called to see if I could stay here? My cousin turned out to be out of town that weekend, so I’m not sure why she said that I could stay with her.

Luckily, my sister had a place down by the beach and I stayed with her for a couple of days. She was not expecting me but she was glad to have me. She seemed high strung and unable to relax, but the only real evidence that she was not OK was that she had never actually unpacked into the place where she was living. All of her boxes were there and some of them were open, but she had not moved in. She had been there for several months.

The working part of my summer was cut short because I still did not have a place to live in the fall and I had to go back to the university town to find a place. Other factors included the fact that my stay at the farm included room and board and I ate more than average, according to the woman that bought the groceries. Also, I had only taken that one weekend off, so if you blocked all of my days off together, there were a couple of weeks together that I had coming. And let’s be honest here, I was not as valuable on the farm as I could’ve been, “come lie down”, hadn’t worked, so there was no one there that wanted me to stay longer.

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

Keep Reading: Doctor

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