A post reposted.

Posted: June 11, 2010 at 10:14 pm

I’m working on the barn animal pages (yes, i know- finally). And I was searching through the blog while I was creating Emily’s page and I found this post written by Meghann. She wrote it a few days after we came home from the meat auction with Todd, Emily, Joy and those crazy goats. I thought it fitting to repost it since Emily is turning 1 year old in 10 days. (i can’t believe it’s been a year).

Life Comes Cheaply
The gate swings open and she stumbles in. She stands there for a moment, staring at us. Then a shove from behind and she lurches forward. Wide-eyed, she comes to a standstill a few feet in front of us, her legs splayed and unsteady. She is young, very young. I can see her dried up umbilical cord. And she is beautiful. Blue-grey eyes surrounded by long, white lashes in a mostly white face, a soft pink nose, knobby knees. The baby is so unsure of herself, taking a few awkward steps back and forth, always keeping a distance between her and the stockmen. She eyes everyone warily and I imagine how terrified she must be. How many hours ago was she born and taken from her mother? 24? 48? She cannot be more than a day or two old.

The bidding begins. I cannot believe my ears. Ten dollars, five dollars, two dollars…my heart breaks. How can her life be worth so little? Motion from behind me and Carol has bid. There are no other takers. For two dollars – less than the price of a hamburger – her life has been saved. I look at the faces of the farmers around me and imagine they are thinking how foolish we are, wasting our money on an animal destined never to be productive.

Bewildered, she is corralled through another gate into a holding area. The bidding continues, but I cannot take my eyes off of her. She lies down in the sawdust. As I watch, an older cow in the adjacent pen turns her head sideways to fit through the horizontal metal bars of the railing. She sniffs the baby and slowly, tenderly, begins to lick her. The baby responds immediately, stretching her neck out and sniffing the older cow.

Suddenly the noise of the auction disappears and all I can focus on is this one peaceful, heart-wrenching moment. A cow, having had her babies taken from her who knows how many times, comforting a weak little baby, who has just lost her own mother before ever really knowing her. I quickly blink back tears, feeling that they are out of place in this place of commerce.

The baby, Emily, is now worlds away from the auction, along with Todd, another calf rescued by SAINTS. Although they are warm, fed, and cared for, the two are struggling to survive. Who knows how much colostrum they received from their mothers, that essential first milk full of protective antibodies and nourishing calories? So, they live, day to day, feeling weak and sick, their bodies under attack because they were never given the right start to life. We love them and hope for them, long for them to grow stronger, to turn the corner. But we wait.

And I am struck with the thought that, day in and day out, all over the country, tiny, helpless calves are trucked from barn to auction to barn and sold for just a few dollars. They may live or they may die. As an investment, they are not worth much, so little is invested in them. But for me, they have opened my eyes to the reality of animals as commodities, a reality that I will not be quick to revisit, but am grateful to have experienced.

So, for Emily, the little calf that Carol bought because she saw her true value, I have written this story.

10 Comments on "A post reposted."

  • Brenda says

    Thank you for reposting this beautifully written story by Meghann about her first impressions of Emily. I can’t believe it’s almost a year either. I experienced great pleasure in giving baby Emily her bottle in the morning when I arrived on the weekends for quite awhile after she arrived. I could hear her “balling” when I got out of my car, and I looked forward to that joy as my first duty at SAINTS on those mornings. It is wonderful to see her now. What an amazing ending to such a horrific beginning for little Emily. Thank you Carol for saving this calf, and reminding us of the value of each life.

  • Mauro Salles says

    ** The other side of the coin **

    The fate of most “productive” and “profit” animals is cruel, to say the least. I do respect organizations such as MERCY FOR ANIMALS (link below), that at least tries to do something about it. I do not make apology for the violence, but I believe at least once in life we need to watch things like Ohio Dairy Farm video.

    http://www.mercyforanimals.org/

  • Colleen Donnelly says

    Thank you Meghann for writing this. ( knowing and loving Emily, that hurt my heart, but twas a needed hurt ) And thanks Nicole for posting it.

    I have never been to a livestock auction. I doubt I will ever go to one. I have neither the cash or land to buy them all.

    Poor babies. All.

  • Carol says

    you know what i can not get out of my head about that day..that has haunted me several times a week ever since?? that i left joy’s friend behind. that was a mistake..it was more than a mistake…it was wrong.
    i was trying to be tough and reasonable..i was trying to be responsible…i was trying to be strong…what a load of bullshit. i let my head make that decision, not my soul, my head was totally up my ass and i will never forgive myself for that….and it was actually weakness that made that decision because i was completely afraid of myself that day.
    i am so sorry little brown cow…. on the day you needed your life saved..i was a coward.

  • Brenda says

    You are a Hero, Carol – never a coward!

  • Amy Dalgliesh says

    This was so beautifully written. I’m having trouble seeing the screen through my tears as I type this. I remember having the same reaction the first time I read it. My heart truly breaks at the thought of the adult cow giving and taking comfort knowing she was equally scared as the rest. I have been a vegetarian for 33 years, but for me, this post planted the seed of veganism, and Mauro, the situation at Conklin farm in Ohio sealed the deal. I’m just sorry it took so long. These animals give their lives because humans like the taste of their flesh. At the very least, they deserve to be treated respectfully, humanely and have their emotional and physical needs met while they are awaiting that fate.

  • dawn says

    Rest in Peace little Todd, you meant alot to my daughter.

  • Kim says

    Beautiful, touching post. I can’t stand those little white plastic containers the calves are kept in prior to slaughter, either. Many of them lined up, window open to look out at the barn wall. Standing, confined, waiting for their early slaughter. I do eat meat. But I have not ever eaten veal since I saw where it originated from.
    I am happy that Emily got a chance.

  • Carol says

    those are not huts for slaughter calves..those are huts for heifer calves they want to grow up to join the herd..it keeps them free from e coli bacteria among others that kill young calves. and it allows for careful measured feeding to ensure they grow up as healthy as possible.
    the bull calves for slaughter are stuffed in together in crowded and dark barn stalls so they cannot move around very well…that way the meat stays more tender.

  • Kim says

    So, be it. If it’s for the little bull calves, that I refuse to eat veal, then my resolve still holds firm. Maybe one day, the farming practices will be kinder, gentler. I miss the days when seeing cows graze was normal. Seeing them squished together in those dark barns, never feeling the sun on their backs depresses me.

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