Farmers do death, that's what we do, daily.
Today I shot a big old buck kangaroo that as a result of fighting was injured and couldn't hop. He was alert and feeding and I'd been watching him over 8 days, slowly making a decision as to whether I should step in or let nature take her course. He was not getting any better, nor any worse apparently but my major concern was the warming weather and his inability to get water. If his injuries had been a result of a clash with a fence or car the decision would have been quick and easier to make, this time causes were natural, testosterone and younger bucks bigger and stronger than him.
He's dead now, I've been to visit him twice since, talking to this beautiful wild creature like he was my friend, holding his amazing paw and marvelling at the size of his tail and ears, battle scarred but soft.
I'm happy I made the decision and when I made it and that I gave him a chance to improve.
Last week I did my normal 40 minute run to the abattoir with a ute load of lambs. I'm used to this now, it's what I do and I much prefer to eat meat that I've delivered to the abattoir in my small loads than meat that has travelled for hours in a massive noisy truck driven by a stranger who's doing it for the wage and no other reason.
On arrival I followed my usual routine and after backing up to ramp, set up gates and walked up to unhitch crate to bring lambs down. I could see that one smaller lamb had slipped, this sometimes happens despite my careful driving and rubber matting. What I didn't immediately see was that he had suffocated, his tongue blue and swollen, body limp and squashed by the others.
Pushing the other lambs out of the way I grabbed his back legs and pulled him toward me onto the ramp. If you've never dragged a dead body, it jolts and drops on every bump, head banging up and down.
I can't remember what I was thinking as I did it but when he was pulled free and lying there not breathing in front of me I could only stare at him, mind empty.
Fuck you you little bugger you're not going to die if I can help it. I bent down and grabbed his head, wrapped my lips around his mouth and nose and blew, and blew and blew. I even did the compression thing on his chest, comical and confronting, I couldn't stop.
He suddenly blew back into my mouth, foam and hot grassy breath, happiness and wonder and he kept going.
I was amazed and shocked, happy that I could bring him back but knowing that ultimately the reason he had gone was because of me, I'd overloaded the ute or I'd taken a corner to fast. It was equal in my mind and no cause for celebration.
Just a another strong lesson and a reminder that farmers do death, that's what we do.