what was the loveliest time of your day?
We share something similar each night over dinner – the “highlight of the day” for Julians and Abbys – they’re not quite the “loveliest time” folk.
Tonight, I described mine as coming home from four hours of early classes, and after finishing the chores and before collecting Abby from school, sinking into an armchair on the sun drenched front porch. There was a steamy espresso with a dash of cream by my side, I was completely hidden from the passersby by the richly flowering, richly scented red rose bush, reading my novel for an hour, whilst a soft breeze wafted gently past.
Oh it was a lovely time. But now, this evening, with a yummy dinner cooked, shared and cleaned up from, and husband and daughter chattering away at the kitchen table whilst they revise fractions, I think I shall have to reconsider.
Yes, reclining in the back garden, under a thick canopy of oak, a peaceful blue sky, lazily setting sun, singing noisy miners, with my crochet on my lap. Yes, THIS is the loveliest time of my day.
The crochet thing is thriving. At the moment, I cannot imagine wanting to finish. But you know one silly thing I keep doing? I move onto a new stitch, get stuck into it, decide in my head what colours I want to use, and how many repeats I want to do. Then, before finishing that section, I hunt through my divine little book to find what stitch I want to do next, and fold the pages back with this next-to-come stitch facing up. This is all very well if I have the luxury of crocheting for a couple of hours .
But in normal time, that simply doesn’t happen. I do a row here, a repeat there. So days and days after my last flurry of crochet, I look down at my stitches and across to the book and think oh! That’s not the same stitch. What was I doing again? Sometimes I am able to work out what I was doing by “reading” my previous rows. Other times, I have to trawl back through the book, looking for the right instructions and hope I can match their photos to my stitches! Ahem!
Will I learn!? Probably not. ’Cause I think that’s what propels me ever forwards – the excitement of what’s to come.
p.s. do you like the new garden/beach chair? I thrifted a pair of them from hard rubbish recently on beach road! Julian’s going to scrub back the aluminium for me and I shall scrub and oil the wooden arms. So retro!
There once was an aran. Oh, she was a beautiful aran. Ever so much effort and time and love had been poured into her cables. And she was deliciously cosy. So cosy that her owner wore her and wore her and wore her and wore her. This lovely aran had gardened, walked the dog on the beach, chopped the firewood, cooked and spent many hours leaning on her right elbow. That’s right, her right elbow. It was her owner’s favourite way to sit, leaning on his right elbow.
But after many many years of love and wearing, the aran began to look a wee bit battered. Her cuffs were unravelling. There were strange splotches staining bits of her here and there. As for that right elbow – it was looking mighty thin. In fact, her knitter decided the aran was looking too tatty and it was time to say goodbye. The owner was most piqued! What was he to do without his beloved aran! I’ll knit you a new one, said his knitter. And that was that.
Without further adieu, the aran found herself being shoved into a plastic bag and dropped off at the Brotherhood of St. Lawrence. Oooo-eeer! She was so terribly nervous. Would she be unravelled!? Would she be taken home and given to a cat to lay on!? Would she never be worn again!?
Then, along came Lily. She spotted the aran and her beautiful time and love filled cables straight away. Hmmm …. Lily dearly loves all hand knitted, woollen treasures and so finds herself adopting cardigans of every shade and style. But another aran sweater? Everyone in Bootville already had a thrifted aran sweater. In fact, Lily had two! Nor was she overly fond of ribbed bands on the waist or neck. They just didn’t suit her – they made her look a bit like a puffer fish. Not a good look. But oh, she couldn’t leave thisaran behind.
And besides, Lily had been dreaming of an aran cardigan. Mmhm! Preferably a rosy coloured one. With liberty covered buttons. Could she? Could she really turn this tired but wonderful old aran into a rosy coloured aran cardigan with liberty coloured buttons?
Well maybe! With her new found steeking skills, courtesy of the ever-so-clever Ms. Kate Davies, she might just be able to. Home came the old, nervous aran. First step – off with the ribbed waist, neck and cuffs. Each live stitch was carefully picked up and cast off again. The aran shivered, this was really quite scary – she expected to unravel at any moment.
Then, Lily crocheted the steeking reinforcement down the front – missing the middle the first time and having to do it again. The old aran was a bit perturbed. Did this strange knitter really know what she was doing? Adding crochet? Didn’t this strange knitter know an aran was KNITTED! Couldn’t she tell when something was off centre? Clearly not!
Snip, snip, snip! Within moments of feeling those stork scissors tickling her stitches, the old aran found herself falling open. Oh dear! Oh dear! This would surely be the end! But no, those red crocheted stitches held all the cables lovely and firm, just as the ever-so-clever Ms. Davies had promised. Lily was quite excited – all this steeking fun again so soon, and she had barely had to knit a stitch to get there.
Over the next few nights, Lily carefully knitted round the raw edges of the steek with a freshly bought skein of 12 ply. Then, painstakingly, she picked up all those stitches, starting from the underarm point of the waist and working her way along to the front, up the front, around the neck, down the front, and back around to the underarm point, knitting a lovely firm icord all the way. It took hours!
But those wee cuffs – they didn’t take long at all. One morning’s spring sunshine on the garden swing and they were done. The aran began to feel so much more comfy – perhaps she really would be a much loved rosy aran cardigan after all! She was gently washed, laid to soak in the bathtub, and finally squashed into a bath of rosy, rosy Ashford red on top of the stove. There she simmered for an hour, feeling that warm pretty colour soak into her tired old fibres.
After a rather startling rinse off on the shower floor – which she still declares was rather undignified – the aran was plopped into the washer, rinsed one last time and slowly spun. She was a bit nervous when she was pulled back out – would Lily like her? Oh yes! Very much! Lily carefully laid the rosy aran cardigan onto a bed of towels to dry in the warm kitchen over night. And the next morning, the lovely fresh cardigan even had a sunny spell on a towelling bed on the clothesline outside. Life certainly had been transformed.
Buttons were made – courtesy of a packet of vintage covered button pieces and a grandmother-in-law’s liberty blouse that no longer fitted anyone. Finally, as the clock struck midnight, 6 days after she’d first come home with Lily, the aran was ready for her new life.
Ah! she was rosy and cosy and soft and clean with the prettiest of flowers planted down her steeked front. Perhaps one day, the rosy aran cardigan would need a patch on the right elbow, put for now, that thin spot is holding just fine.
And Lily – well, dyeing is certainly an art form that requires an awful lot of practice, but she loves her new rosy cardigan. Good thing she lives in Melbourne where she gets to wear it regularly, even in the last weeks of spring! In fact, I’ve no doubt, she’ll wear it all year round and the two of them – the rosy aran cardigan and her Lily will live happily ever after :-)
I dusted my dressing table this morning. It was very dusty, but more importantly, I have an essay due in this week, so dusting the dressing table was an imperative and most valuable form of procrastination.
As I began lifting off each item, gently dusting it and placing it on the bed, it occured to me that I’ve been playing this same game for as long as I can remember. When I was a little girl, I had a white Queen Anne style dressing table – it even had touches of gold – it was the seventies :-) Neatly arranged on top were wee jewellery boxes, important trinkets, little statues sent to me by my grandmother, a Catholic relic or two, all with their own doilies – I had pink and white crocheted ones.
My dressing table, however, lacked a mirror – quite a profound oversight. My mum had a beautiful dressing table – silky oak, with a lovely, tilting mirror with little drawers on either side for her jewellery. I aspired to a dressing table such as this.
When I left home, I also left the white and gold number. I was grown up now and in need of a proper dressing table. Indeed it was one of the first pieces of furniture I bought for the really ordinary little flat Julian and I made home for the first years of our life together. Julian wasn’t overly interested in my dressing table fetish so enlisted the help of my Dad. He and I often did our shopping together on a Saturday morning, so, one week, we first trawled the antique stores of Brisbane looking for the perfect dressing table.
It had to have a big mirror, some form of little drawers or cupboards on either side of the mirror, Edwardian or older, in nice timber, with deep drawers for my clothes. After a whole day’s searching we found it at The Collector’s Corner in Stones Corner – newly arrived from England. I laybyed it – it cost 6 weeks salary – oh my, it was such a lot of money.
Now as I dust it, so many stories from different stages of my life wander through my mind, each piece triggering a new picture. There’s the shopping for the dressing table itself – my Dad is no longer in our lives. He behaved badly, pissed off, behaved badly for a few more years and then disappeared completely. He didn’t even return my sister’s phonecall when she left a message to let him know her second babe was born. This makes me sad. I don’t necessarily want MY Dad back in my life – there’s so much unpleasantness – but I feel sad that my Dad gave up on us and that Abby doesn’t have a grandfather. I look at the relationships my uncles have with their children, and that my grandad has with his seven children, and I envy those children, I envy the love, the interest, the concern, the joy in their very existence their dads show them.
On the left hand side of the mirror, there’s a small gouge in the wood. This happened when Julian , Rob and Scott (lovely friends from university) were carrying the dressing table from the front flat to the back flat (much grander!) and snagged it on the Hills Hoist. It took a few deep breaths to get over that one.
Then there are the trinkets – some of them even began their lives with me on the white and gold dressing table. There’s the little blue wedgewood jewellery box – this was a present to my mum and she passed it on to me when I was very small. It still holds my silver bluebird bracelet and the little gold bangle I wore as a child. Do you see the crack with the stained brown glue job? I threw it, in a temper, against the wall as a little girl. What a dreadful little girl I must have been! Mum was furious – I was devastated – she glued it back together for me. The other box was given to me by my Mum’s friend Sherida for my 21st – they met when they first started work together as telephonists at the Post Office in the mid 1960s.
There’s a photo of my much, much, much adored Nanny and Grandad at their 50th wedding anniversary (fabulous night!) in a beautiful papier mache frame given to me by Aunty Anne, flanked by the Lotte salt and pepper shakers Nanny gave me from her collection. Nanny has a marvellous collection of Lotte, and so I have collected my own because in my mind, special family meals should always be served on Lotte.
There’s the statue of St. Francis of Assisi my Mum gave me when I made my Confirmation, and a tiny little wooden lady from Bavaria. We bought her whilst on a camping trip when I was 11 – I stood in an Aladdin’s cave of a store – filled to the roof with wooden people and houses and puppets – we were allowed to choose two small treats as a reminder of our time in Bavaria. I would have cheerfully dragged the entire collection home. She used to hold a letter in one hand (a tribute to my Grandad the postmaster) and a bunch of flowers in the other – I still think she’s exquisite despite her chipped paint and empty hands and have carefully carried her with me for 31 years. The second treat – a small, painted chest of drawers that now holds the silliest pieces of paper and IDs and badges from my teenage years – all completely unthrowawayable.
There are the crystal jewellery bowls (filled with odd little pieces and treasures) and tray from my Nanny – Mum has a set too. I grew up thinking that all dressing tables came with crystal trays and bowls. A more recent addition – a little mirrored box from Aunty Anne for my earrings, and a vintage, bakelite mirror – my very first purchase on Ebay – what a portent!
There are, of course, photos of Abby – little Abby, big Abby reminding me how quickly she has grown from a tiny thing in her Christmas Paddington Bear pyjamas to a long and lanky high school girl!
And a little turquoise plate from CarolAnne holds the amber pendant Julian and Abby gave me for Christmas ten years ago, and my wedding ring that has a tendency to get stuck so is waiting for a trip to the jewellers to be stretched. Tsk! Tsk!
I finish dusting the dressing table and each piece is carefully put back. Not always in the same spot. I can never quite remember where it was before, so each time the arrangement is a little bit different.
I travel along this road, carrying with me the things that are precious – the things that tell my story. Some get lost along the way, others break and are discarded, others chip and are mended. Every time I settle down, the arrangement is a little bit different – the picture has altered slightly, the story may have taken a twist, always there are new elements, new characters, new experiences.
And yet there’s a wonderfully reassuring sameness – a timeline of family and friends, of love, sharing, and good cheer. Despite that one element of sadness – all life comes with sadness – I like dusting my dressing table – it’s a good story.
There was an almost plain lampshade calling my name on Saturday. Abby, mum and I were thrifting – Abby was hunting down the components of a new costume – we had a simply wonderful day and came home with lovely treats. Including this here shade which was lurking by the counter at the Family Op Shop in Cheltenham. Mum and Abby didn’t think it was worth the $6 price tag.
I knew different. It has bobbles. Really good quality, thick, velvety, lush bobbles. I used to sell them at the patchwork store. I know how much they cost. They cost more than $6. And I LOVE bobbles AND lampshades – perfect combination as far as I could see.
You know what it was lacking though, don’t you? Mmhm! Fabric. Lovely, warm, florally, mixed-up fabric. Of the patchwork variety. With a bit of thrifted vintage blanket and some quilting.
I did measure it, truly I did. But my version of measuring is clearly an imprecise science. One more row needed.
Finish the quilty lines – I’m especially looking forward to how the piercing of the needle creates wee holes that the lamplight will shine through. Makes me think of a beautiful Shirley Hughes story I used to read with Abby when she was a little boot. Makes me wonder how pretty it would look if I could do magical swirly quilty patterns. Hmm?
And making sure I don’t stand on the dog, who has wodged herself in between my feet and the christmas decorations. To stand on even a millimetre of fluff is to offend her immensely and she will flounce out of the sewing shed – and tell on me when the rest of the family get home. She will! True!
A side binding to slip stitch into place and hold the wee quilt firmly onto the lampshade.
And some pvc glue around the top – I left the top band of fabric half an inch longer than the blanket, then ironed and stitched the raw edge of the fabric over by 1/4 inch, then folded this hem over the top edge of the lampshade with a generous strip of glue, held in place by lots of pegs to dry.
Have to give it a trial run before I head off to babysitting. Hm!
Ooooh! Like it very much. The blue bobbles are just lovely and the stitchy lines are sparkling gently, just as I’d hoped. Very cheery and cosy. Might need to indulge in a bath now just so’s I can indulge in the ambience. I know the little one will like it on Thursday night when it’s time for stories in the bath.
Home again – and I’ve removed the peggy headdress. Goody! Yet further evidence to support Julian’s theory that if a sniper was to come to our home, they’d have to dress as a quilt :-)
Remember this!? I’d completely forgotten … I was trawling through boxes in the sewing shed looking for the quilt top of spring hats I made a few years back – I thought it especially apt for this time of year, what with all the spring flowers around and the racing carnival upon us (not that we’re into horse racing at all, but you know, the hats are quite lovely!). Instead, I stumbled upon this one. Ahhhh! The little houses!
Oh yes, I do so love these houses – this my ideal village, the place I live in, in my dreams. Perhaps the hills are greener than blue, but oh what I wouldn’t do to wake up in one of these houses! All that space! All those windows! And I bet they have attics! sigh …
It really appeals to Julian. He likes the simplicity of it – the limited palette. It is quite unlike most things I make – I suppose you could say I’m rather chaotic with my colour :-) And it’s nice and big too. Fits nicely on our bed. Lovely!
So with my favourite companion squashed onto the very end of the kitchen table, I pinned out the quilt and set to quilting. Round and round the squares. Then chevrons along the sashing. For the borders I’m thinking stippling for the blue numbers and navy flowers, and more chevrons for the red stripe.
My dearie deserted me after a while – she said I was making the table vibrate. But I ploughed on. It was deliciously cosy, quilting in the lamplit kitchen, freshly washed up dishes, chicken roasting in the oven, doggles at my feet.
Hopefully tomorrow, I will finish this quilt of dreams. I even found the perfect piece of red, white and black stripe for the binding. Then we’ll be able to add it to the small but growing list of *finished* And then, it’s back to the sewing shed to hunt down that spring hat quilt – it MUST be there somewhere and I’m on a roll.
(that would be spring swing cushion :-)
Okay. So I reckon that when I look at the photos I take of my back garden it looks quite lovely. There’s lots of green, and trees, and sometimes when we’re lucky vegies and herbs growing, and busybody chickens, and crazy dogs, and possum poo, and funny little old sheds. It looks like the kind of back garden I’d like to be in.
And I do! As soon as the weather is sunny and nice, we set up camp in the back garden. All of our garden furniture is hard rubbish thrifted, but it’s quaint and useful and we like it. We add quilts and cushions, bring out cups of tea and glasses of juice. We barbaque, stitch, play, fix bikes, scrape furniture, read manga, garden …
What you can’t tell from the photos and my words is what we HEAR. Yes, there’s the obvious urban noises – cars, trams, people walking past, the regular siren (the ambulance station is up the road), the irregular tinkle of a car crash, the whoosh of the trains not too far away.
Then there’s the local fauna – lots of birds – mostly those funny little black things with the yellow beaks. Terribly plain with aggressive, protruding eyes, but my, they do sing sweet. And the yap, yap of neighbourhood dogs.
But you probably guessed all those noises were in our backgarden. The noise I’m alluding to is the neighbours. Mmhm. That variety of noise. No, they don’t have any light industry in their garage. They don’t spent hours whipper snippering. They don’t play loud music. We never hear their television. They scream.
Man, do they scream. They take screaming to new heights. I didn’t know two people could live together for over 25 years and scream at each other like this, every – single – day. About every – single – issue. The violent disrespect for each other and their (grown) children that explodes out of their mouths beggars belief.
Even though it is never unexpected, the ferocity literally makes me jump. Some days, it is so extraordinary that I shudder and think, that’s it, they’re going to kill each today. But they don’t. I have never heard a smash or a bang. Just screaming.
They’re such a funny couple. Always very friendly and pleasant to us. Cried when our dogs died. Share their lemons. Chat over the hedge. Will literally chat and chuckle over the hedge and then turn on their heels and scream at each other so that our ears vibrate. How do you get to such a state of communication and still walk and talk? I sure don’t know.
So – when you look at these pictures of our recently thrifted and oh so sweet garden swing with its new spring cushion – all cosy and sunny and waiting for Abby and I to wander outside and enjoy the spring afternoon – think of the soundtrack. We just roll our eyes now, shake our heads, and sometimes, when the words are so truly absurd, giggle.
But there you go, you can never tell just from looking at some pretty enough pictures what’s REALLY going on, huh :-)
Cleaning was required first. A couple of hours. Steel wool, bleach, water. Lucy and Fu helped – sort of. You can see how much Fu got into it – with her face. Lucy preferred a supervisory role.
But then, the afternoon sun spilled on and we rested there, faces tilted towards its warmth.
There was stitching. Smoochy dog. Dirty Dog. Cups of tea. Soundtrack provided by the plain little bird with the beautiful voice, spotted surveying his territory from the kitchen chimney.
Now the swing has it’s own quilted cushion. And we have somewhere sweet to soak up these lovely warm days in the back garden.
This day was so very grey and dark and cold.
The wind was icy, it rained and rained.
It felt as if the only good place to be would be snuggled up in bed.
Instead, I was in the midst of it, my feet soggy, my shoulders damp.
I shook my head at the lack of spring, the lack of light, the lack of warmth.
I sighed with the people around me about the mercurial nature of Melbourne’s clime.
I sat in long queues, listening to people gripe and harrass,
I fretted about money, worrying about what would happen next.
There is always something lovely to notice.
Something good, something to add warmth to my days.
Something that makes my breath softer, my hands looser.
Something to make me so very glad that I am here, right now.
I just sometimes need to wait and keep my eyes open.
It will come – it always comes.
I know, you’ve heard it all before :-) But here we go again anyway!
Finishing off the prairie fairy quilt has really prompted me to pull out all those long lost projects. I have sooooooo many. Sometimes when I pull them out, they are greeted with a hmm … not quite sure what I had in mind there. Other times, it’s like finding a once loved toy or book. The magic happens all over again.
It was a bit of half and half with this wee lass. As I pulled her out, her flowering spring branch and whimsical upper half delighted me. The skirt? Not so much. I especially dislike those last two tiers of the skirt. Yech! I don’t like ANY of the skirt.
For a moment, I thought about folding her back up but her rosy cheeks made me smile, so I pondered ….
Oh yes! Much nicer! And – without all the frou frou I’ll be able to quilt it really nicely. Yep, much better. And there are visions for her background. See, I’ve just finished reading the Lighthouse Stevensons – wonderful read, if you’ve ever madly wished you were one of the Famous Five and could run away to a lighthouse or spent years wandering through the Child’s Garden of Verse, you really must read this fascinating tale – and I’m thinking this lass is in fact a Scottish lighthouse wife. She can’t be a keeper – they never employed women lighthouse keepers in Scotland – but a lighthouse keeper’s wife. Living in a sturdy, beautifully built cottage, with a cow, some shetland sheep, collecting the local fauna to dye her wool …
Mmmmmm …. now we’re talking.
ta-da! Oh my, this has been a loooooooong time coming :-) I began these wee cross stitches before Abby was born – more than 15 years ago! They are, of course, from the Prairie Schooler folk – my all time favourite cross stitch patterns. I so love their simplicity and timelessness. Mmmmmhmm!
And these fairies – so funny and whimsical. They bring me to mind of the sweet flower fairy poems written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Have you read them? I found them during the time when I was reading the Little House books to Abby – she was still breastfeeding first thing in the morning and last thing at night – she called it good morning titty and good night titty :-) – and we read our way through the first three of Wilder’s stories. The poems are so unlike her other writing – very silly and fanciful and lovely. Perhaps an opportunity to escape the hardships of everyday life and revel in the magic of the natural beauty around her.
I love the colours of the fairy on the crow, sprinkling pollen as she goes. But my favourite is the lass on the hare – I can relate to her chaos!
I absolutely adore the fabrics I’ve used in this quilt. The blue and green floral you can see above is from a 2009 collection of Jane Austen inspired fabrics, and the smooshy reddy rhubarb is just something I liked. But the rest are from a couple of Moda collections from years ago – I’m sure their name had something to do with “French” and when I bought the last of the red floral and green floral above, I remember feeling crushed that was the end of them.
The border is made from wedges cut with the dresden plate ruler – adds a nice zing. And the blocks – I can’t remember what this block is called – “My Sister’s Favourite” is ringing some bells. But looking at them afresh this week, I think I need to make more. Many, many more! Forty-eight made from the scraps in my sewing shed. That would be fun huh!
As for the brown binding – it was never intended to be. Last night, I was pulling fabrics out of their useless piles in the sewing shed, trying to find a big enough piece in red or green or pink. No luck. The only piece I kept coming back to that was big enough was the brown. It’s a reproduction piece – I LOVE reproductions and haven’t found anywhere here in Melbourne to buy them – Karen had a great selection at the Quilters’ Store in Brisbane – I used to drive them crazy buying 30cm each of 20 odd bolts at a time – in the end, they used to make me return the bolts to the shelves myself :-) Anyways – I think the brown has worked really well – echoes the lovely Prairie Schooler feel and draws me back again to Laura and those Little Houses. Besides, brown + green +red + pink is probably my favourite colour combination ever.
And then it was done – I’ve even stitched in every last thread! I made a hanging cord for it from the remainder of the brown, added a sleeve to the back and …
… finished! I’m as smitten with it today as I was when it first began. It’s just right.
Now, it’s hanging in the hall, above the spring table. Yes, this Prairie Fairy Quilt of mine is just right.
~ i have a terrible sore neck still
~ i’m still wearing winter clothes
~ on thursday, it’s only predicted to reach 13
~ daylight savings has started -
hello dark mornings, we meet again way too soon
these are very silly things
~ my bathroom sink is sparkling
~ there’s the hand sewing of a long anticipated quilt binding
waiting for me on the sofa
~ daylight savings has started -
hello long gentle evenings, it’s so delightful to see you!
these are very lovely things
We Boots headed into town yesterday morning to lend our voices, and ultimately our votes, to a cause we passionately support – the banning of the live export of sheep, cattle and goats from Australia to countries in South East Asia and the Middle East.
Since its inception over thirty years ago, millions of Australian animals have been cruelly loaded into huge ships, transported thousands of miles – regularly taking over a month to travel from farm to market – and offloaded into marketplaces where there are no laws regarding the acceptable treatment and slaughter of domesticated animals.
Along the way, hundreds of thousands of these animals die from diet-related diseases, salmonella, heat stress, over crowding, disease, and physical trauma. In 2008 alone, 35,000 sheep died en route to the Middle East. How could such loss possibly be part of a profitable business model!?!?
In reponse to horrific evidence obtained last year from Indonesian abattoirs, the Australian Federal Government introduced new regulations regarding the welfare of exported Australian animals. This legislation is utterly ineffective, as amply proved by events in the Middle East over the last few weeks.
Australian sheep transported to Bahrain – under the new legislation – were deemed unacceptable for human consumption due to the presence of a common disease, scabby mouth – the disease status being hotly disputed by the Australia Department of Agriculture. As such, the exporters were refused permission to unload their already suffering stock and the sheep were then stranded at sea for two more weeks until a bungled deal was stitched up between the Australian regulators, the exporters and Pakistan. The sheep were at last unloaded, to this …
‘Like a giant mass of wool, bloodied and filthy, they lay in trenches – slit open, stabbed or clubbed to death, while many still wriggled with some life left in them, soon to be buried alive. This was the horrific and brutal fate that the Australian sheep, which provincial authorities had claimed were diseased, met after their culling was ordered.’ (The Age)
Simply one more example, in a long history of brutality, that live export – and its inevitable outcomes – are unacceptable to a community that values life and the welfare of all the sentient beings who share this land.
Now, I’m no vegetarian and I’m also aware that we Australians do not always model perfect animal welfare practices. We can do better. We can always do better. We have an obligation to do better (if you need any further evidence let me remind you about what was happening in a small abattoir west of Sydney last year!). And this includes following New Zealand’s efforts (they banned live export in 2003) and saying to our trading partners that we do not place easy money above the dignity and wellbeing of living creatures.
That stuffing three fully grown sheep into the boot of a car is UNACCPETABLE. That slashing the leg tendons of cattle and gouging out their eyes in order to make them compliant is UNACCEPTABLE. That claiming such behaviour is okay because it’s culturally or religiously based is UNACCEPTABLE.
It is medieval barbarity and we should not be part of it. We should be taking an active, international role in STOPPING it. We did it with whaling, we can do it with live export. We can be leaders in animal welfare, not perpetrators of torture.
Any farmer that sends his or her animals off for live export does not care for their animals’ wellbeing and any calls they make for us to understand their predicament because heck, they’ve put up with drought, is deserving only of our disbelief and disregard.
I know many farming families who have done it tough through drought, climate change and unstable economic times, and their response? Farm smart, find new ways of doing things better, more efficiently, more sustainably. They don’t turn to live export for a quick, tainted buck. Relying on live export as your means of deriving a farming income, is lazy and unethical farming.
The dollar signs speak for themselves. Even the government themselves acknowledge that Australia makes 8 times more money every year from selling CHILLED MEAT – that is, meat from Australian livestock that have been slaughtered and processed here in Australia – to the very same Middle Eastern and South East Asian countries that we continue to export live animals to. 8 TIMES MORE MONEY. Do we need to hear that figure again? 8 TIMES MORE MONEY.
Independent financial reports have concluded that not only would there be no job losses should live export be banned, but there would be JOB INCREASES because we would have to build and operate more slaughter and processing facilities to meet international demand for our meat. We would increase Australia’s productivity – something we could do with right now!
And, because these facilities would operate in Australia, we are able to insist upon the humane transport and slaughter of these animals, as well as prosecute any failures to adhere to acceptable standards.
Any farmer, industry spokesperson or politician that declares our new humane live export legislation protect Australian livestock overseas is simply WRONG – as the horrific circumstances in Pakistan prove. We lose any control over the wellbeing of these animals the moment they leave our shores.
To any readers who only happened to see the rally’s distorted coverage on the ABC – there were thousands of protestors – not hundreds. In order to safely accomodate the thousands of concerned and passionate citizens, the police had to close off the street.
Nor was it simply a rally addressed by the Greens – Lyn White (Animals Australia activist), Kelvin Thomson (Federal Labor Party MP) and Dr. Hugh Wirth, (President of the RSPCA, Victoria) all spoke with informed passion and wit. We learnt so much and had our determination to help ban live export cranked up to new heights.
This was a rally and is an issue of concern to the vast majority of Australians from all walks of life. Heck – even the Meatworkers Union was there!
If you would like to learn more, check out the RSPCA’s website and go here for take action resources.
As my hero Hugh F-W says, “There is no meat without the death of a warm-blooded, sentient animal – and those that eat meat must take responsibility for these deaths.”
Since it has been proven again and again that we cannot make those to whom we export our animals responsible for their welfare and provide them with humane deaths, we cannot, we MUST NOT continue this trade.
BAN LIVE EXPORT