Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 36 > Page 10 - With Ralph MacDonald

Page 10 - With Ralph MacDonald

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1984/6/1 (267 reads)

vel. Lots of times you wouldn't see the head ones at all. They'd be away around a turn. And then when you'd come up, all of a sudden they'd be in a fellow's field. Then you had to round them out of the field, chase them back on the road again, and get them started again. And every once in awhile, one would give out. Lamb would give out. So we'd have to put it on our shoulder and carry it. I of? ten wonder now where we got the energy to do it, 'cause we weren't overly strong or anything like that. But we'd lift up the lamb. I can still see it yet: the lamb would be laying down, contented, and I'd put my head down, then kind of stand up, and I'd start walking and chasing the lambs. Carry it for about 10 or 15 minutes. After awhile, put it down, and away it would go again. But there was no traffic. Very few cars on the road. Nine times out of 10, if a car came along, the car used to stop and wait till all the lambs got by, and then keep on going again. And no holler about it block? ing the road, or anything like that. They didn't mind it. It was quite a drive. (How were the other children toward you, being the butcher in the neighbourhood, for teasing?) Oh, a little bit at school, but not enough to hurt. My father had what they call a loft there, where we used to keep the hay. Of course, there used to be about 8 or 10 kids every night come in and watch him. When they'd come in, my father used to make them go up there and sit down so they'd be out of the way. Watch the butchering. No, no, the other kids never bothered us about being a butcher, or anything like that. As a matter of fact, sometimes they were jealous that we had the access to do a little work like that. At least, that's the way I took it. And it's hard to think of a butcher being a trade. But by gosh, when I come to think of it now, there's not too many kids picking it up. But this bunch I,was telling you about • they'd be up in the loft, watching. All of a sudden, one of the fel? lows would kind of get to have more initiative than the other fellows, and he'd be down with a knife first thing you know, and he'd work in, and start butchering. But today you don't get that. (What did your father pay you when you worked for him?) Well, we'd go to him, say, on a Saturday night, now: "I want a couple of dollars." So he'd give us a couple of dollars. If we went to him and told him we wanted 2 or 3 dollars, he would give it to us. That was kind of an understanding, that whatever we wanted. No such a thing as a straight salary. (You'd go out to Loch Lomond, and you wouldn't get anything special.) Never. Of course, we're forgetting one part of it, too. Don't forget, our mother had a lot to do with this. It was her that got us to do the work. "Your fa? ther needs help. He needs you out there to give him a help getting the lambs down to the freight shed. Now, he needs some help tomorrow morning, for you to go to Glace Bay." And it was her that really trained us. Although, probably the other fellows didn't see it that way. But it was really her that got us to do the work. I often thought a- bout it afterwards. It used to be the mother that used to say, "Now, your father needs you tomorrow morning. When you get through school, now, come home. You've got to go to Blackett's Lake to get a calf. Now your father is away, now don't forget to feed the horse." See what I mean? And it was her that would get us up in the morning. She'd wake me up and say • that was the expression she used to use • "Your father needs you." You know what I mean? "He needs your help." So what would you do? You'd get up then and go out, wouldn't you? So therefore, she was really the instigator of us doing the work. More so than our father getting us to do it. (You were telling me you used to train a ram.) Oh, yes. Early in the season, when the lambs first started coming in, there'd be probably one big ram with them. A mature ram, probably about 4 or 5 years old. We'd put a name onto him • Darby • and then we were probably always petting him, and stuff like that. And then we'd start feeding him oats. And the first thing you know, he'd be eating right out of your hand without a bit of trouble. That was part of the secret. You'd get a handful of oats. You'd have some in your pocket. He'd fol? low you right down to the wharf. That was when lambs came in by boat down at the Esplanade, or when they'd come in by freight car down at the sta? tion. And then when they'd get ready to let the lambs out. Darby'd walk right alongside of you like this, if you had oats in your hand. He'd be nibbling at the oats • and all the lambs would fol- Take Home A Bit Of Cape Breton Culture! Cape Breton is renowned not only for its rugged beauty but|also for its coal mines, steel mills, its fiddlers, good humour and high spirits. The College of Cape Breton Press has captured much of the flavour of the is? land in its original recordings and books of Cape Breton. While touring the island this summer, look for the following records and books: RECORDS: • Cape Breton's Greatest Hits • The Rise and Follies of Cape Breton Island (1977, 1980, 1981) • Glendale • Rita MacNeil's "Part of the Mystery" BOOKS: -The Cape Breton Fiddler • Cape Breton Historical Essays • Patterson's History of Victoria County NEW RELEASES: The College of Cape Breton Press • Songs & Stories from Deep Cove • Still Standing • Mining Photographs and Other Pictures by Leslie Shedden • The Well-Watered Garden: The Presbyterian Church in Cape Breton, 1798-1860 by Laurie Stanley The College of Cape Breton Press P. O. Box 5300 Sydney. N. S. BIP 6L2 In book and record outlets and most island craft stores or send to:
Cape Breton's Magazine
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