On a seventy day rural writing sojourn I started to appreciate the lot of farmers …and their livestock. Floods had recently destroyed much farmland. Sheep prices do not reflect the investment of time, money and energy.
One day I cycled up to the local mart. I asked at the office could my photographer* friend take some shoots for her diploma course. The mart director enthusiastically agreed.
While the photographer set up her shots, I walked around the mart, partly in attempt to keep warm. While i wandered about I got a few lines about the mart scenes. Those rhyming lines quickly turned into this poem below. It was later published on the the THAT’S FARMING website…
Trailered tractors enter auction mart,
rural echoes under prefabricated arch;
farmers gather, leaning on metal fences,
wondering will sales cover inflated expenses?
Broad accents mutter local news, weather,
stray dogs shot, lamb neck arteries severed.
Stubborn sheep exit transporter ramps,
some clean showered, others dirt-damp;
colour claimed backs, faces black as soot
– concrete floor quite cold underfoot.
Tongue-twisted numbers, spoken at speed,
discreet bids, cautious men capped in tweed.
Stage-frightened ewes, focus of ring,
rap-fast auction, seller almost sings;
occasional sheep make maiden speech,
quick-hammered lots, exit gates squeak;
sellers sit stoic on rough concrete steps,
quietly conversing, awaiting sales cheques.
Urine spray, shit-splattered surfaces,
nervy sheep bound for abattoir purposes;
rarely I read or hear rural news,
of farm policies, I haven’t got a clue –
rugged pastoralists get my rhyming salute,
all shy weathered smiles, big muddy boots.
Dedicated to Ray Dempsey, Chairman, Roscrea Central Auction