Being unbelievably ancient, stories of my youth stretch back into the late 1940’s.
Dad had come back from the war in the Pacific and my parents presented me with a younger brother. Dad went farming. Farm labouring in the West Australian Wheatbelt. Sowing and harvesting wheat and feeding a flock of sheep on the stubble. He was paid a small wage with keep. A house and a sheep per week. We moved around a bit but that was another story and not really understood by my young ears.
Anyway, this is a story which took place on a farm probably just outside a small town called Dalwallinu in the Spring of about 1949.
There was no scheme water so we had to rely on stored rain water in the tank. Baths were in three inches of water after everyone else had bathed. Younger brother and I cleaned our teeth leaning over the edge of the verandah with a glass of water in our hand. The ground was gravel and about three feet down. Quite a drop when you are little.
One of the perks of farm life was the collection of pets and animals in a child’s life. We had Skip, the Red Cloud Kelpie who couldn’t see through the stubble so he stood up on his hind legs to see where the sheep were. Then he would drop down and sort those ovines out. Skip’s Mum had done the same thing.
Then there were the orphaned lambs. Mum had a soft spot for them and we often had a baby lamb which needed feeding and so lived around the house. Eventually they were weaned and sent back to the flock.
The year I was five Lambsie was a nice friendly little pet. As tends to happen with young animals, it got a bit bigger and started hanging around us. It was included in our games. It always kept an eye on us when we cleaned our teeth with Kolynos toothpaste and our little glass of water.
Time passed. Possibly a month or two. We noticed that Lambsie was developing little bumps on its head. Dad explained that it was going to be a ram and those bumps were baby horns.
Eventually the natural thing happened. One evening we were standing on the edge of the verandah cleaning our teeth when instinct kicked in. Lambsie lined younger brother up and butted him off the verandah. He fell all the way down to the ground. Where he got quite angry.
I made the mistake of laughing and was leaning over the edge to see the fallen heap down there on the ground. Lambsie then dealt with me! Together, down there on the gravel, we were both teary and very angry with Lambsie. We demanded, in our four and five year-old way that Dad do something about him.
The next Sunday we had our roast dinner. Younger brother asked what had happened to Lambsie and Dad told us that he was our dinner.
Being little boys and harbouring a lot of resentment against Lambsie we ate on with greater relish! And extra mint sauce.