Monday, October 6, 2008

The Chook-minder's Holiday

Not everybody can spend public holidays, and I am one of them. It is not because I don’t own a boat, nor because my family and close friends are not here. It is because of my job as a chook-minder.

It’s Public Holiday Monday in S.A.! Today is Labour Day in South Australia, Australian Capital Territory, and New South Wales. This is another unusual celebration for a foreigner like me because as what the majority of the countries are doing, the Philippines is celebrating Labour Day every first day of May.

For many working Australians, as well as the permanent and temporary residents of this country, it is a period of relaxation and recreation because of the long weekend that has started since Friday evening! It is the time to link their caravan, or join their trailer (with their boat) on their four-wheels and drive to their favourite countryside or seaside. It’s the best time for camping, fishing, swimming (even this mid-spring), barbecue, and (especially yesterday, the

NRL Grand Final games) for sports. Families and friends would usually get together during holidays like this, so it’s an excellent opportunity to renew their bonds.

I can’t think of a livestock farmer, like me, who can just easily fly and enjoy unbothered during public holidays leaving their animals unattended—hungry and thirsty! Every person in the livestock industry has been living through the same plight as mine since they started to get engaged with the business.

Mates from another industry, especially those who are working in the

CBD would think that this is a curse. I’ve been in the livestock industry for more than 8 years already, and even back home I am in the same situation- no weekends, no holidays. I am on call 7 days a week. Some would think that we are obliged to do it because it is our job, otherwise we’ll lose our source of living.

Yes, we, in the livestock industry, are compelled to work 8 or more hours a day, 7 days a week. We are bounded to do it, not only because it is a million dollar business. We are devoted to do it, not only because it is our livelihood. We love to do it because it is our profession! All the time it is part of our vocation to take care of these creatures who cannot speak, nor gesture. All the time it is part of our calling to help these animals who cannot help themselves.

At the end of the day, it is not only the people who are directly involved with the livestock farming that benefit from this business. Everybody who is part of the biological food chain benefits from this industry! And like every industry, the livestock industry is everybody’s industry.

Can you imagine spending a long weekend without your milk, beef patty, sausage or steak? Can you imagine enjoying a public holiday without your bacon, pork or lamb chops, CHICKEN or an EGG?

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