and now i want to talk about the other side of the farming thing

Posted: July 5, 2009 at 6:25 am

i don’t know much about either side of the farming of animals thing…i know what i have seen over the past few years, with the meat birds fallen off the truck that died within months because they simply grew too big, i learned in the past couple of weeks about the plight of bull calves…a sad and shameful consequence of our society consuming the milk of their mothers.

i also know in speaking with the vets and knowing some of the farmers personally…the farming industry is not an evil monster. it is what it is because of what we the consumer think it needs…cheap meat…cheap, convenient milk. ethical farmers are going to have a really hard time competing financially  with the commercial operations. do you remember back in the ’80’s, the thousands of generational family farms in the states wiped into nonexistence because they could not compete commercially with the big corporate farms?

willy nelson and “farm aid”  spawned the movement to save the family farm…and that meant the family farm moving into commercialism in order to compete in the market in order to survive.

the dairy farmers are not just passively sending off a million bull calves, each year to slaughter. it is a huge time and financial investment for them to impregnate a cow…and produce a live and healthy calf. they need the calf for the milk they farm and a live born heifer can be grown to join the herd of future producers.

a bull calf like todd or a free martin sterile heifer like emily…are a sad disappointment…it costs money to shoot them humanely and have their bodies removed…they certainly can’t afford to keep them and invest even more time and money to grow them up for nothing.

so where do they go? they go to auction and bring in less than $15 combined but at least there was no other cost attached to them except the gas to get them there, the cost of invitro fertilization and nine months of hopeful waiting.

the dairy industry is close in research to removing male sperms altogether. soon only female sperm will reach their cows…no more useless bull calves born..just the milk producing heifers. less wasted time, less wasted lives.

if everyone in the world stops eating meat, stops using dairy products…soon there will be no more animal farming industry..more fields for grain and soya products…more people will actually be fed.

but no more cows, chickens, ducks, pigs either because they won’t be needed anymore….and that makes me sad..because i adore these farm creatures that are born to be consumed.

not that i believe we will ever reach the day of no animals consumed for food…as a species we are too selfish, too pedatory…to stop altogether.

so what do we do?

can farmed animals have a respected and valued life? can we alter our consumer expectations to promote for them a decent life? can we change the gov’t CFIA rules that allows for a more humane closer to home, less brutal slaughter?

can we provide some kind of dignified retirement sanctuary care for the lifelong producers of our wants and needs?

this issue is not just a simplified personal choice of whether or not to eat meat or drink milk or wear leather …it is a complex moral and ethical concern with far and wide reaching effects….and i am not even close to knowing even the basics of them.
i don’t know what the answers are..i am not even sure i know the real questions…and i don’t even know if there are any real answers out there.

i just know what i want right now…which is for the whole process to not be so necessarily money driven and reluctantly unfeeling.

and i want a real live and functioning farm animal sanctuary here in BC…i want a place where the farm animals personally have an opportunity to speak for themselves.

so this is what i am wondering….what action on my part, on the part of saints…can take a positive step forward in making things a bit better for farmed animals out there?

and so once again..i am thinking.

7 Comments on "and now i want to talk about the other side of the farming thing"

  • Barbara DeMott says

    India supports a lot of sanctuaries for old “sacred” cows but that is because they are valued more for their dung (fires) and milk than meat.
    If they can I would think we could.

  • lynne says

    it is really hard to know how to help, i can not see things changing for a long time. i only know for myself i used to eat quite a bit of meat and not really being bothered about how it got to my table or the plight of the farm animals. saints has really opened up a whole new side of myself that i did not even know was there. i joined saints because i was interested in the idea that someone out there really cared about the animals. i did not dream that 2 and a half years later i would love not only dogs, which are my favorite, but cats and all the farm animals. a year ago i also became vegetarian and that is solely because of saints. i could not look at ellie and percy and the chickens and think of eating them. when i used to go to the store and purchase my meat i never put an existence to that steak. now i do. i think i am now wanting to spend more time with the barn animals whereas before i was always kind of afraid of them. until those 2 babes came along and that changed my outlook forever, i can not imagine the fate that awaits so many more and yes it is a vicious circle as long as we consume they will supply.that is just good business for them and most people either do not care or do know of their plight. i am one more person who know knows and i am telling everyone.

  • Sheila says

    Tom Hughes – A former Vancouver man, Tom Hughes is a pioneer in the field of animal welfare, having spent more than 50 years working on behalf of animals. Hughes’ advocacy work has resulted in marked improvements to the way million of animals are cared for in shelters and slaughterhouses across the country. Among his accomplishments, he created the BC SPCA’s first animal shelters after being appalled by the lack of effort by the city pound to re-home animals in its care. Hughes also worked to ease the suffering of farm animals by establishing humane methods of euthanasia in slaughterhouses.

    The above write up was given at the SPCA Annual Awards Ceremony which I attended. This fellow is – I am guessing – in his 80’s. The one comment I was struck by was that 50 years ago he was involved in starting up shelters for pet animals and he said something to the effect that in 50 years it was now reversed it was the farm animals that needed protecting. They mentioned that he had now become involved in setting up sanctuaries for horses and is still very active.

    This man may be a place to start with – not that I think you should have him help you set up a sanctuary but I think he has a wealth of knowledge and getting that never hurts.

    And at the end of his speech he pointed – not to the 11 year old girl who had won an award – but to her little 4 year old brother and said he is the future. And I think he meant that little boy will not know anything but being humane to animals because those are the only choices he has and will be rresented with. It may be slow and and it may be not immediate but to me that is how true deeply abiding change comes from.

  • Carol says

    Carol, I continue to read your blog almost every day, and rarely comment, but I wanted you to know that I not only appreciate the rescue work that you do, but also the soul searching that you share with us. I have been vegetarian for more than 30 years, and consume mostly organic dairy, but know that isn’t the perfect solution either. I hadn’t heard of Tom Hughes, so the comments to this “food for thought” post will perhaps add to your words in triggering another step along the “help make life better for all living beings” journey.

  • Meghann says

    Farm sanctuary…count me in! 😉

  • Carol thank you for your daily blog! If you weren’t so far away I’d volunteer with SAINTS in a heartbeat! I admire YOU and everyone at SAINTS! I’m vegetarian, almost completely vegan. (no leather, wool, silk, etc..) Earthlings dvd changed my world. I recommend that everyone watch this dvd. It reveals the horrific world of farmed animals, rodeo, circus, fur industry, animal testing. (It’s hard to watch completely… yet I felt the need to bare witness to their suffering to change more personally. ie no more donations re animal testing charities). Earthlings explains it all.

  • Marisa says

    It’s actually not as complex as we all like to make it out to be. Humans have no logical claim to superiority on this earth. Humans invent the claim because it makes it a heck of a lot easier to exploit all other creatures so that humans can have the lives they want.

    But, if before every action, humans asked themselves, “Would I want this done to me?” the answers would be pretty straightforward.

    Ladies, ask yourselves “Would I want to be impregnated on a constant basis so that I have a child who needs my milk and then my milk is stolen to feed an entirely different species and my child sold at 2 days old at auction?” If your answer is no, then dairy’s out.

    “Would I want to live with 8 other people in a cage no bigger than a small cubicle my entire life before I’m sent off to a cruel death?” If the answer is no, then intensive confinement eggs are out.

    Empathy means seeing the world from another’s point of view and if you would not WANT to be in that “other’s” shoes then you should not be contributing to that “other’s” suffering. And, especially if you do not want to SEE that other’s suffering (i.e. “Please don’t show me…I can’t take it”) then you know there’s something very wrong happening to that other…something you would not want inflicted on you or your family.

    Just be kind. It’s truly simple. Animals are not here to feed us, clothe us, heal our diseases or make us feel good about ourselves. They’re here for them…completely independent of humans. Can’t we just let them live for themselves? As we do?

    As Henry Beston famously wrote:
    “We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the travail and splendour of the earth.”

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