Today was the island stock sale. I was part of the team who were selling tea, juices, sandwiches, cake and hot dogs to the 'crowd'. As it is school holidays there were quite a few children out for the day, as well as the farmers who had come to sell, or hoping the price was right, to buy. We were a little bit removed from the actual pens, in our old army style tent, but were the only refreshments available, so we did a brisk trade for most of the day.
So there we were, 4 women stuck in a small sheltered area, with a small gas stove to heat the saveloys and the coffee water, an esky (what we would call a coolbox) to keep the juice cold and several tables for cake and money etc. Unfortunately someone had herded their cows over our piece of ground before the tent went up, but we had a piece of red plastic over the biggest pats, and having labelled that the 'red carpet' the fun began. I have not laughed so much for so long in years, and I think my cheeks will be stiff tomorrow.
The 'A' team, who usually do the work, were not available, so we were apprentices without guidance, and we muddled through, and I hope made some money, but it was more by good luck than good judgement in the beginning, before we learned the ropes, and how to make the leaky gas stove cook faster. Do you know that if you put saveloys in water and begin to heat them, and then take some of the water out of the pot, it will have become a really girlie pink??
I think every customer left with a smile, but whether they were laughing with us, or at us, is anyones guess.
I thought that the saveloys were tastier this time, but I am not sure if that was hunger adding sauce, or whether I am becoming more accustomed to island tastes. I could smell coffee all day, but dared not have a cup, as there are no bathroom facilities at all at the saleyards. Which I found really strange.
A cow got its leg over one of the wooden struts that make up the sides of the pens, and immediately our landlord and a 'mate' of his jumped into action. One running to the ute to fetch the chainsaw, and the other getting into position ready to use it. The commotion even attracted our attention, so we popped out of the tent, in time to see the burly farmer pull the chainsaw into action on the run. Except that it didn't start, first, second or third pull. He handed it over to the owner, who also failed to start it for a few pulls. Then finally, just as I was going to jog over to ask sweetly if I could help, it started with a roar, and the cow was saved. If it had broken a leg, it would have had to be put down immediately, and as we have no abbattoir on the island it would have been a total write off. I asked the landlord later if I should have come to help, but he just muttered that his 'mate' had flooded the engine, normally she starts first pull.
Still it was great to get home, and over a delicious cup of coffee, tell Dave all about it. What did we laugh at? I think it was mass hysteria, at how many things can go wrong in setting up a stall, when we found we had no water, or matches, and the first customer used one of those 100 dollar notes to pay 3 dollars for his coffee. One of the ladies car's had overheated on the way in, and she had discovered there was a hole in her radiator, and her husband was worried she had cooked the engine, which just added to the need to laugh away the tension.
It was certainly a day to remember, the company, the sights and the smells. I really hope they invite me to help again.