Beautiful Joe
Chapter 29, Page 3

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Please be aware that this book was originally published in 1894 and may contain words, descriptions, or other passages that may be considered offensive today.


CHAPTER XXIX: A TALK ABOUT SHEEP (continued)

"Don't you hate to have these creatures killed, that you have raised and tended so carefully?" said Miss Laura with a little shudder.

"I do," said her uncle; "but never an animal goes off my place that I don't know just how it's going to be put to death. None of your sending sheep to market with their legs tied together, and jammed in a cart, and sweating and suffering for me. They've got to go standing comfortably on their legs, or go not at all. And I'm going to know the butcher that kills my animals, that have been petted like children. I said to Davidson, over there in Hoytville, 'If I thought you would herd my sheep and lambs and calves together, and take them one by one in sight of the rest, and stick your knife into them, or stun them, and have the others lowing, and bleating, and crying in their misery, this is the last consignment you would ever get from me.'

"He said, 'Wood, I don't like my business, but on the word of an honest man, my butchering is done as well as it can be. Come and see for yourself.'

"He took me to his slaughter-house, and though I didn't stay long, I saw enough to convince me that he spoke the truth. He has different pens and sheds, and the killing is done as quietly as possible; the animals are taken in one by one, and though the others suspect what is going on, they can't see it."

"These sheep are a long way from the house," said Miss Laura; "don't the dogs that you were telling me about attack them?"

"No; for since I had that brush with Windham's dog, I've trained them to go and come with the cows. It's a queer thing, but cows that will run from a dog when they are alone will fight him if he meddles with their calves or the sheep. There's not a dog around that would dare to come into this pasture, for he knows the cows would be after him with lowered horns, and a business look in their eyes. The sheep in the orchard are safe enough, for they're near the house, and if a strange dog came around, Joe would settle him, wouldn't you, Joe?" and Mr. Wood looked behind the log at me.

I got up and put my head on his arm, and he went on: "By and by, the Southdowns will be changed up here, and the Shropshires will go down to the orchard. I like to keep one flock under my fruit trees. You know there is an old proverb, 'The sheep has a golden hoof.' They save me the trouble of ploughing. I haven't ploughed my orchard for ten years, and don't expect to plough it for ten years more. Then your Aunt Hattie's hens are so obliging that they keep me from the worry of finding ticks at shearing time. All the year round, I let them run among the sheep, and they nab every tick they see."

"How closely sheep bite," exclaimed Miss Laura, pointing to one that was nibbling almost at his master's feet.

"Very close, and they eat a good many things that cows don't relish — bitter weeds, and briars, and shrubs, and the young ferns that come up in the spring."

"I wish I could get hold of one of those dear little lambs," said Miss Laura. "See that sweet little blackie back in the alders. Could you not coax him up?"

"He wouldn't come here," said her uncle, kindly; "but I'll try and get him for you."