Page 47 - Regarding the Birds of the Bird Islands
ISSUE : Issue 26
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1980/8/1
start jumping in the boat. And when that old sheep figured there was enough in the boat, she'd cut the line off. They'd go with that boat and bring another one in. That's a pretty wise old sheep now. I kept sheep on the island. And it was worthwhile keeping them out there. The on? ly trouble with sheep on the island, if you didn't get the lambs at the right time they'd be too heavy for market. People wouldn't believe you were selling lamb. They thought it was sheep. They'd do that well. Wonderful pasture there. After we left the island we had quite a number of sheep, used to put them out there. And the lightkeeper'd look after them. Sheep don't need much looking after. One year, we also put a heifer out there--about a year and a half heifer. And that was a wild fall. Storm after storm. We'd usually get the sheep off the island in October--never later than early November if we could. One storm after the other. Just couldn't set? tle down. Sea on the shores, too hard to come off. And in December--back about 1940--Wally MacKenzie, my brother-in-law, and I took off for the island. Wally was no seaman but a pretty good butcher. The plan was: butcher the heifer. And butcher some of the lambs, if neces? sary. And take the sheep ashore alive. Had a little motorboat. It was after a heavy rainstorm. Morning looked pretty good. I was after Father to let me go long before that. "No, the weather wouldn't be fit." So this day decided to get out and round them up fast. "It will be coming nor'west, boy. Better make it in the day because it'll be coming nor'west before too long." Started out for the island. Had a bit of a sail I carried on the boat. And when we got to Cape Dauphin it came across nor- west. Didn't think much of it. Fresh breeze. I put the sail on her. And before we got to the harbour it had the sail off her, blowing a gale nor'west. Square away and managed to land her at the harbour-- good slip there that time. You could go in on the slip or you could go round around the harbouj: and go in on the sloping rock. You wouldn't call it a harbour. But any? way, decided to put it on the rocks. Slip wasn't too good. Gave Wally the oar, to back water on the oar and try to round her around and get her up on the rock. There was a danger if you missed the rock: you'd go in between the rock and the island, go out and pound on the rocks, could get dam? aged. Anyway, managed to get her up on the rock. Ordinary weather she'd be okay. Leave her there for weeks. But a northeast heavy storm,, of course, you had to get it off the rock. Sea'11 wash over that rock. Anyhow, we rounded up the sheep. And boy, it came in northeast in the evening. Had them all rounded up, had them corralled in the barn. Had to get the boat off the rock. Couldn't load the sheep in that weather. Put the boat over on the slipway. Haul her up high. And it blew for 2 or 3 days. We were there 3 nights. One wild northeast snowstorm. And froze. This is in December. Turned cold. That island iced up clean to the grass. Every rock had a quarter inch of ice on it. And that's what we were in. The second evening, we were listening to the news in the evening, after trying to get ourselves out of the harbour that day • soaked to the hide. We could have got out all right, I think, but scared we'd perish before we got in--so cold, so wet. And this news flash came over: "If Daniel Campbell and Wally MacKenzie are alive on Bird Island, put up a flare." Well, I was expecting it. I ran off five gallons of kerosene. I grabbed an old coat hanging in the lighthouse, got up on the island, put it on the grass and poured the five gal? lons of kerosene. And lit her up. Took off in the gale of wind like a flare. They saw it in here and knew we were alive. And the next day Father and Uncle John and Jimmy Carey arrived. Jimmy Carey had the biggest boat around here that time. I saw them coming, hauled our boat up, took the engine out of her and turned her bottom up--I figured I may not get back any more this winter. They came to the sjouth side of the island. I tied a rope and slid down, and Father came in in the dory they had in tow. I had already butchered everything, and we wanted to get the meat off. Butch? ered the whole works. Figured that was the wise thing to do. Otherwise, might have to leave them there all winter. They went to a flat rock up the other end of the island from the harbour. You couldn't land the dory • a ledge of rock straight down--but we lugged all that meat up. I was a young able man then. Carried all that meat up about a half mile, packed on our backs, trip after trip, while they steamed around. They anchored the boat and came in in the dory, rocking back and forth in the surf, and we'd drop a quarter of lamb down on a rope. Got all the meat down that way. Slide the meat down on the ice. Worked out all right. Then Wally went down. Then I slid down the rope last. And the rope was there till the next spring. (47)
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