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10 Sep 2010 - 7:10 PM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

Everything just fell into place. I still feel sick about it. It’s my fault the accident happened.

The house gate had come off its mounting so is very tricky to open and close. We had visitors coming and going so the gate was open. A mate and the missus were in the holding yard with the sheep, trimming their toenails. The fencing gear had all arrived and needed to be unloaded so I was in the barnyard with the bloke from the rural store. And the dog, Cari, was very excited about it all, mostly racing around trying to see what was happening to the sheep. From the road side of the yard.

The neighbour hit Cari hard. You could hear the bang as she was collected by his four wheel drive. He wasn’t driving fast, but the noise was enough to frighten us, and the accompanying yelp not a good sign. Cari cowered, then limped away, frightened, wounded and possibly mangled inside. There was blood, I could see, on her leg, her hips weren’t doing what I expected, and she slunk off as low as a tiger snake into the house yard and hid beneath low hanging trees.

Only the night before I’d had a death on the farm. A chicken had what I think was sour crop. Pendula, the Plymouth Rock with the pendulous crop, the girl who was never quite right from the time I bought her, was going down hill. Two days of tipping her upside down to drain her crop hadn’t seemed to help. She wasn’t eating, or drinking. And she wasn’t pooing. By the time I decided to put her out of her misery, there was no strength left in her. This ability to kill chickens is becoming part of the fabric of life here. I don’t like it. I wish I didn’t have to. But it’s my duty to end the suffering if I can.

Death comes often on and around farms and my attitude to it is changing. It has to. Media reports and letters to the paper comment on how Tasmanians must be very careless drivers because there’s so much road kill. Truth is, road kill is a very good indicator of wild numbers, and on my quiet dead end dirt road there is usually a mangled possum or wallaby most mornings. There are simply so many they are virtually impossible to avoid.

I kill far more living creatures growing vegetables than I do rearing warm blooded animals or chickens. Several hundred just to eat one cabbage the other week. Snails crushed or caught in a beer trap are still dead snails, regardless of the organic nature of the method. Worms mangled by a spade, aphids stripped with my fingers, all these things are dying because I want to eat and live in a certain way. Every time you dress, house, transport or feed yourself, even without adding all the modern trappings, creatures will die. That’s the reality that I think you can miss living in the city. Use a kettle, visit a café, buy a book, and things will die. It’s a matter of how big an impact you choose or hope to make.

The morality of eating is a very personal thing. Am I vegetarian any more? No. Do I eat far more vegetables than meat? Yes. Is it odd that I can grow more meat on my farm than vegetables thanks to the ingenuity and appetites of possums and wallabies? Really strange.

Anyway, one vet visit and a few bob handed over and Cari is back home, looking very sad and sorry but still very much alive. One leg is bandaged, the open wound thankfully not a sign of a broken bone. If she limps badly tomorrow, her hips could be dislocated, but the x-ray was shut for the day by the time the accident happened, so that could mean another trip to town.

In the meantime my gorgeous black bitch is getting more love than ever to make up for the fact she feels (and looks) a bit worse for wear. And to assuage the guilt I feel for not keeping a better eye on her.