Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Far From a Wordless Wednesday

Outrage. Sadness. Frustration.

Fury. Anger. Hurt.

Disturbed. Appalled.


I began my morning with some predawn web searching and catching up on some of our favorite blogs, while pondering a lighthearted Wordless Wednesday from some fun loving part of our family farm, only to have the wind completely sucked from my sails and my heart ripped from my chest.

In nearly every direction I turned, I was reading more and more about a Texas dairy farm, accused of animal cruelty, following the release of a video by a national animal rights organization. The footage, which was secretly filmed over the course of two weeks in March of 2011, shows dairy employees hitting sick and injured calves over the head with pickaxes and claw hammers, kicking and stomping on them.

This fomat is a family atmosphere, and we prefer to keep it that way, so if you feel so inclined as to view this footage, "... a simple search for "mercy for animals, calves" should find it for you..." as our friends at Haley Farms put it. I entered the search, and up popped the video in question. I did my best, as best I could, to watch it... with the hopes of somehow seeing something that was just being blown out of proportion. Instead, I was barely able to face the screen for half of the nearly 3 minute video.

I can not even begin to imagine what was going through the mind of the individuals involved, or the "investigator" who was able to withstand spending 2 weeks at a facility that could participate in this type of action for even a fraction of the entire "investigation." It is reported that, at the conclusion of the filming, the abuse was reported to authorities.

My heart is most heavy for The Rest of the agriculture community. Those of us who wake every morning, and spend our days tending to every need of every animal in our care. While there are times that some may not make it or some may need to be sold, that is, in fact, the nature of the game. Those animals, under no circumstances, receive any less care than any other healthy member of our herd. We do our best at all times, and when we can't, there comes a time when difficult decisions must be made.

We run a Family business. Our children are frequent visitors at our dairy, and one day those visits will include chores of their own. We conduct our operation with no secrets to hide, nothing is blocked from our children's view. Should an operation such as ours have specific aspects that we determined to be inappropriate for our children to view/witness, then it would be high time for a reevaluation! The vast majority of farmers and ranchers, conduct their businesses along similar lines, raising their family alongside their livestock. The lessons of the circle of life and care and growth are taught simultaneously, sharing what you love with who you love... there is no better way I can think of to teach my children how to be sound, responsible, contributing, hard working adults.

At the end of the video, the suggested "Result" is to "Go Vegetarian". This sent me into an entirely separate fury. To choose the vegan option as a means of "solving" this problem, is the same as turning your cheek and ignoring it. While I fully support consumers make their own choices in regards to the foods they purchase and consume, I do prefer they act responsibly in doing so. Do not turn cheek - Stand up to these types of offenders, speak out against them, promote properly raised and respected livestock, but, please do so in an educated frame of mind and voice. Seek the facts from all sides and do not correlate the rest of us with this type of horrendous action.

The truly disheartening part of this tale, is that Joe and Josie Farmer who do something incredibly wonderful for their livestock, well, chances are they will never be recognized on a national scale for their hard work, dedication and the love they put into each day. The actions of a few reflect extremely poorly upon the rest of us. One comment I read this morning posed the question of whether a parent who drowns their 5 children in a bathtub adequately summarizes the parenting skills and methods of the rest of us. The answer is No, just as the actions of this particular farmer do not adequately summarize the methods and practices used by the rest of us.

Animal cruelty is not condoned by us or by the Agriculture community and should be immediately reported to law enforcement officials.

I raise a toast to our fellow livestock producers, who feel a deep connection and passion for the industry they devote their lives to. Thank you! Below I have linked a few posts on this topic, as well as a tribute video to the Hardworking Farmers in America.

Tomorrow, please join us for some more common dairy farm sights, and a much needed, lighthearted Wordless Wednesday make-up!

God Made a Farmer - tribute video

Blog posts on this topic:

Other posts on this topic:


Brad and Christa said...

Beautifully written post about such a disgusting act. I googled, and couldn't make it past the first blow to the head. Those people are absolute monsters, and like you, it makes me sad to think that some uninformed consumers think that this sort of behavior is the norm, or commonplace in any way. I can't imagine any farmer I know ever treating their livestock this way, and I can't imagine any of them standing by knowing this were happening. We have to be activists within our industry to promote good stewardship of land, life and livelihood!

Dawson Cattle Company said...

you did a wonderful job with this post. i myself watched yesterday and was sick to my stomach. i was sickened by the thought that anyone could do that. not to mention that someone would watch and film for 2 weeks before saying anything. and i was also disgusted that the resolution was to go vegan! sadly like so many articles against agriculture and animal husbandry what people see or read they believe to be true. sooo very sad.

The Durrer Family said...

Thank you for your comments, ladies. Our job is to truly share our lives with the consumer and help them understand that the bad apples do not contaminate the rest of the barrel. Here's to making a difference!

Sarah said...

You have a way with words - this is a really amazing post! I am amazed that you could watch it - that anyone could watch it. I made it all of 3 seconds or so - it was so horrible! I am glad so many farmers, ranchers, and advocates for ag posted about this and how it is not the norm!


Sarah from The House That Ag Built

The Durrer Family said...

Thank you, Sarah. I watched as much as I could between the winces and shudders...
Thank you for sharing Ag with your students! I look forward to sharing some ideas with our little guys!