I’m so sorry I haven’t uploaded to the blog in a while guys. I could tell you it’s been neglected because we had Chris’s parents visit us for a while. I could tell you weve been working too hard and haven’t had the energy. I could also tell you we have been travelling a lot and haven’t found the time. Truth is I’ve had the time, I’ve had the energy, I just knew though that this was going to be a hard one for me to write.
As you know Chris and I had found work in eastern Tasmania pruning grapevines for a Brown Brothers vinyard called The Devils Corner. It’s okay. It’s the biggest vinyard in Tasmania and they produce some nice drops, their pinot (as with all tassy pinots) is worth a try. This post isn’t about wine though. Its about our time working there. What we learned about human nature, and mostly what we learned about ourselves.
So first things first, I must say we were very happy to land this gig. As you know all of our funds got poured into getting our car on the road so we were in dire need of topping the purse back up. We did some quick sums and worked out that about 5 – 6 weeks work should get us back on the road…. 5 – 6 weeks…. Monday to friday… pruning… all day… long. Ah well nothing like a bit of RSI.
The work wasn’t actually too bad. Our boss was a guy who had driven down from WA who had worked vinyards his whole life, his name was Tim. Tim had a kind heart, we knew this from the get go. He was living in a troopy with his dog Rex a few campsites down from us. Our 5 or so weeks would be spent aiming to not let him down. The thing about seasonal work is that it attracts seasonal people. Tim knew this and was patient. Not one single time was anyone late or calling in sick. This was I think mostly because we all needed the money, but also I think because we knew Tim needed the work. Our team was about ten of us made up of two locals, Chris and I, and a few backpackers from Italy, Belgium, Germany and Argentina.
So the weeks went on and the days petered out into nights and we got into our routine. The toughest part for Chris and I, I think was working all day to go home to an ice cold campsite only to sleep, wake up and do it again. I think at one stage I remember I hadn’t showered in three weeks, it was just too cold. I even stopped taking off my hi-vis vest for bed. I remember thinking to myself “ah well if i stink it’s only my work mates i’ll bother, who cares”. Seriously who can be bothered? I took to using smoke showers. A trick I picked up on from Bear Grylls of all people.
Things were pretty sweet really. Well that was until one afternoon when one of the backpackers Roman I think it was, spotted a dying sheep near where we were working. You see The Devils Corner is a big property, and it is covered with thousands and thousands of sheep. They keep the grass down and fertilise as they go. We spent each day driving to and from our paddocks dividing the bumbling herds, honking our horns and laughing at the silly things run. They are actually the most endearing creatures, especially the little lambs.
Anywho, we checked the dying sheep out. It was on its side, occasionally kicking its legs. I tried to lift him but no luck. We guessed that he had tripped and broken his leg maybe? Who knows. Our group had to finish our rows with it in plain view. It was horrible. It was a sombre afternoon. Our group were depressed though I think optimistic as they felt someone would obviously do something for the poor thing. Chris and I were a little less assured.
One thing we have picked up on in our time in Tassy is that generally speaking, Tasmanians don’t seem to hold an animals life in very high regard. Now i know i might sound like a naive city kid but we have had quite a few encounters with the locals where this had been proven to be true. We dont know why, an abundance maybe i dont know? All I know is that while everyone was texting Tim to let him know a sheep was dying expecting something to be done, Chris and I started feeling a dark sickness in our stomachs. We had a worrying feeling we knew its fate though tried to stay positive.
So the sheep got reported at lunch on a wednesday. That afternoon we drove past it at 4:30pm to find the poor thing still laying there, still alive.
We drove home.
I stayed up all night not being able to get the thought of that poor thing out of my head. Just laying there. Suffering. Poor bastard.
The next day at lunch we asked Tim what ended up happening with it. We were told that the guy that looks after the sheep had been informed and that no one on the property had a gun. A few people said that it needed to be put out of its misery, one of the locals unsurprisingly said to just leave it. The general consensus was that it was someone else’s problem. The backpackers hearts went out to it, though it wasnt their place to interfere. The locals had no place in their hearts and to the vineyard bosses it was just one of thousands. Chris and I drove over to check on it that afternoon hoping just maybe something had been done.
Stupid me tricked myself into thinking someone would have done something about it before I got there. The guy that “looks after the sheep” obviously would’ve looked after it. Nup. It was just as it was the day before. Reeling. Reeling in pain and confusion. It was then the gravity hit me as I knew what I had just gotten myself into. Chris asked “what are we going to do?” I think I mumbled something as I grabbed my knife and walked over to the poor thing.
I wont go into detail about what happened over the next few minutes but I will say this. I’ve never done anything like that before, and I hope I am never in that situation again.
Chris was crying.
I was shaking.
We drove home in silence.
So much anger grew in me from that moment. Anger i’m still trying to process. How come I have to carry that burden, that specific physical memory because of anothers low regard for life? This question has brought me some anxiety, but at the end of the day I just tell myself I made the right decision. The poor thing could have laid there for weeks. I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I did nothing.
Anyways enough about that. Our time working on the vineyard ended quite positively. Our new back packer friends all got Chris and I a card when we left which was very thoughtful and we had a few (too many drinks) with them up at the pub. We spoke excitedly about our future plans and love of travel and it actually started getting us really excited and in disbelief that we would finally be leaving Tasmania.
Warning: I included a pic of the poor sheep below