May 19, 2008

  • trained sheep killer


    This post is a true story from my childhood.  If you are not able to handle graphic gory details, close your eyes till it's over.
    I guess the world has changed quite a bit in some ways in the last few hundred years, and especially in the last hundred.  I grew up sort of old world style, in the modern world, and yet still as though it had been a hundred years earlier.  I think the big difference between my dad's childhood and mine was that we had a tv while I was growing up, although only 3 channels.
    I ate my first pet when I was around 5 years old.  I came home from school to my rabbit's skin hanging up in the garage and my mom frying it in a pan.  I don't recall whether it was traumatic.  It must not have been, since I can recall other traumatic memories just fine.  I don't think Mom was happy about it, but Dad seemed satisfied.
    When I was 7 we moved to a small farm.  It had a small ranch house with a flag stone floor, a little barn with a corral, a ditch system, and a few acres that my dad turned into a pasture, a garden and orchard, and an alfalfa field for hay.  He also dug a pond and filled it from the ditch when it was our turn to have water.  From then on we ate my pets regularly.
    I grew up bottle feeding lambs, watching Dad milk a cow, crawling through hay for eggs, and picking in the garden till my fingers were raw.  I rode a school bus into town and didn't have much in the way of friends.  I rode a bike, climbed trees, and worked like a dog on that farm.
    One thing we did growing up that very few kids in the U.S. do nowadays was butcher all our own meat, with our own hands.  Dad told us where to sit on a sheep to help hold it down, and he would cut a special place on its neck so that all the blood would come out.  The chickens would come running and drink the blood while we hung on to the wool for dear life as the sheep kicked.  As soon as it would get kinda still and its eyes would glaze, which wasn't long, Dad would cinch its back legs up to a beam and have us kids help him pull a rope to lift the sheep off the ground.  He would start the skinning till he got it where I could reach, then hand me the knife and have me keep working on the skinning while he got things ready for the gutting.  It was very important not to let the wool touch the meat, and I had to be very strong to keep cutting and pulling the skin down.  I got pretty good at it.  I was 8 years old when I first helped skin a sheep.
    After the skin was down to the neck, Dad cut the head off with it and put it aside.  He rolled a wheelbarrow under the carcass and sliced down the belly, having us kids pull the sheep back so the guts could come tipping out.  He had a bowl of water set aside for the liver, which he quickly cut out before it touched anything else.  He showed me how to cut around the gall bladder, which would spoil the meat if it leaked anywhere.  Once the liver was in the bowl of water, he had me carry it to the house so my mom could put ice in the water and start slicing it up for supper later.  Then I ran back outside.
    My dad would dump the guts out beyond the fence into the arroyo for the coyotes to get later, but one time he saved a lung for my brother to play with.  He inserted a little pipe into the bronchial, and my brother would blow on it and we'd watch the lung puff up like a balloon.  Pretty cool.
    After all the guts were cleaned out, Dad would cut down the carcass and carry it into the house.  My mom would have a clean sheet laid out on the kitchen table for Dad to work on.  First came the saw, quartering into big chunks.  When Dad felt real ambitious we got some nice steaks and lots of lamb chops.  The rest were roasts, ribs, stew meat, and burger.  We had an old fashioned meat grinder which I learned how to set up, and us kids took turns cranking while Dad cut off the pieces for us.  It was an honor to be the one to put strips of meat into the grinder.  Too fast would clog it up.  Too slow would be wasted work for whoever was grinding.
    We butchered around seven lambs a year and one calf.  The calf carcass would usually go to the butcher to cut up.  We also butchered a few ducks and geese and a whole lotta chickens.  If you've never smelled wet dead chicken while you pluck, you haven't lived.
    I grew up around knives, of course.  Dad also had a machete.  He nearly chopped his finger off one day and wanted me and my sister to sew it back on for him.  My sister didn't have the stomach, and I simply couldn't see how I would do it.  I think I was 7 or 8.  I was the oldest, by the way.  So Dad just bandaged his finger back together.  That machete had cut clear through the bone, and only a piece of muscle was holding his finger on.  He never went to the doctor.  It healed just fine.  He's always been able to use that finger, because he was very careful in the way he bandaged it up.
    We did everything ourselves.  One time the neighbor's dog pulled a new lamb through the fence, which stripped its skin off.  You'd think that would kill it, but surprisingly not.  The lamb was otherwise intact, and Dad caught it quickly enough that we were able to save the lamb from dying of exposure.  He set up a sheet of plywood across a couple of sawhorses and laid down a sheet.  He had me bring him a bowl of water and he poured some lysol into it and used that to sterilize a needle and thread.  He had me thread the needle because his farmer's fingers were too big, and he was farsighted.  He also had me help pull the skin back in place and hold the seams together while he stitched them.  It took a long time.  That lamb not only lived, but went on to have many lambs of her own.
    We were so used to living that way that we never questioned our dad.  He knew everything, and could fix everything.  One time he came running into the house and told us kids to come right now.  There was a sheep who'd gotten loose in the alfalfa feed and gorged herself.  She was laying by the pond, swelled like a balloon, gasping for air.  Sheep bloat easily, and the pressure alone kills them because they can't breathe or pump blood.  Dad told us where to sit and said no matter what happens, don't move at ALL.  One of us was on her head, another on her shoulder, and I was on her hip, which is usually the hardest spot to hold, and fairly dangerous.  The second we were settled, Dad stabbed that sheep in the stomach.
    Not one of us cried out or protested.  We had every confidence that this violence we were seeing was a good thing.  And poor Dad instantly dropped his knife and grabbed the wool on both sides of the wound and held it open while the nasty wet alfalfa she'd eaten sprayed him right in the face, full of stomach juice and smelling very terrible.  Dad didn't move until it was done, then let the sheep up.  She lived to have more babies, too.
    THEN Dad explained to us what had happened and why he did what he did.
    Some years later I helped my Dad perform a cesarean on a cow.  The calf had already died, and Dad did the autopsy on the spot to find out why.  Its liver was all yellow and crumbly, so it would never have lived.
    I could tell you a lot more stories about my dad, all of them with knives and blood.  I grew up with blood all over me, using knives of all sizes since I was a young child.  To me, blood and knives were a very natural part of our lives.
    I have written this story in other places, but I'm writing it here for a friend of mine.  Sometimes a discussion comes up with people I meet online, and some people think they are bad for liking certain things.  One girl I met years ago thought she was bad because she really liked knives.  I told her so do some archeologists and anthropologists and other cultural experts who study knives, maybe that would be a fun way for her to enjoy knives.  I also told her about Damascus knives, which I've seen in person.  I'm borrowing this picture as an example, but you can do your own search and come up with all kinds of websites and pictures on how they make those blades.
    Another thing people feel guilty about is their desire to see blood in movies, or to learn more about killing and wars and stuff.  Our society nowadays has come a long way from tribal warfare and slaughtering meat, but it wasn't that long ago that all people were exposed to death and dying all the time, in the streets, in their homes, tales of it from travelers.  It's a natural thing to want to know more about what death is really like.  I've held death in my own hands countless times, including holding a girl while she died right after a horrific accident.  I have never understood the craving to see vampire movies or study killers because I AM a vampire and a killer.  Well, I don't drink blood, but I've certainly drained the animals I've eaten of their blood.
    The thing is, we are humans.  We are very much a part of this earth.  Lately our world is being paved over and cleaned up, and we no longer see and smell blood all the time like people used to.  We no longer have to kill to eat (excepting for the people who get paid to do the dirty work), and war is something in another country, not in our own neighborhood (unless you are in a rough part of town).  We are made of blood, and we die.  For tens of thousands of years it was the most natural thing in the world for humans to know and understand blood rituals, food laws, and the consequences of someone else taking your land or stealing your animals.
    It's not a bad thing to have an interest in bloody things, unless you are needlessly hurting other people.  Yeah, then it's a bad thing.  But if you are interested in getting back to your human roots, there are some awesome culture studies you can become involved with.  There are many cultures around the world who still depend on hand to mouth living, who still have to fight to survive, and even in the U.S. there are plenty of family farms still thriving on their own.  I know it's not politically correct nowadays to say "Hey, let's go to a farm and watch them butcher a sheep, maybe they'll let us help", but I'm sure if you really wanted to learn how to survive like that again, you could find a way.  (Don't butcher the neighbor's dog...)
    And of course, there is always hunting, involving training in firearm safety and obtaining a license to hunt.  In years past, the native people who lived on the North American continent were sometimes known to make a thank you offering to the animals they killed.  Now some guys just make trophies.  But it all boils down to the inner roots of really living, smelling the land around you, feeling the weather, hearing all the wildlife you'd never notice otherwise.  It's pretty cool.
    Like I said, some people caught in places where they never have the opportunity for these experiences sometimes feel like they are guilty or crazy for wanting to know more about blood and killing and death and stuff.  I don't think they're crazy at all, unless they start practicing on, say, a little sister or something, but just feeling an instinct that's been a part of humanity for many tens of thousands of years.
    Some people 'confess' these secret sins to me privately online, and I say c'mon over, try this knife...
    Besides, I just won a new grill in a drawing at my bank.   
    grill 003

 photo surveybuttonsm.jpg

I've started transferring my survey posts over to Surveypalooza so people coming in from search engines on mobile devices will be able to see the surveys.


Apologies for the missing vids, another upgrade during the server migration swept through like a scan sweeping through the Enterprise. I'll fix those later, kinda busy...

click tracking
since 3-5-14

Site Meter

Subscribe in a reader

Subscribe to Bluejacky by Email

Who is the Existential Aspie?

disclaimer- I am not compensated for linking and sharing. I share what I like when I feel like it.

my stuffs

Still waiting for a tweet widget update.

 photo dotcomlogojb.jpgdotcom

 photo yablo.jpg YabloVH

GrandFortuna's League of 20,000 Planets

 photo spazz.jpgjankita on blogger


View Janika Banks's profile on LinkedIn

 photo tumblr_button.jpg

Follow Me on Pinterest


Pinky Guerrero
LogoThere are
or fewer people named Janika Banks in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

my friends

Eric's blog  photo keepingconscious5.jpg

Dawn's blog  photo dawnsnip3.jpg

Vicki's blog  photo tryingnottowobble.jpg

Anonymous Aspie  photo aspieland.jpg

Fae & Friends  photo faeampfriends2.jpg

myke's place  photo syfydesignslogo.jpg

Nerd Movie  photo nerdmovie.jpg

Front and Center Productions  photo frontandcenterlogo.jpg

Kirill Yarovoy  photo revivalcomingsoon.jpg

Little Lexx forum  photo lexxboredbutton.jpg

Lexxzone on Tumblr  photo lexxzonelogo.jpg

May 2008
« Apr   Jun »

Everything I've got on this blog