Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Puppy!!!!!

106P made a liar out of me and had a bull calf last night. Meanest cow on the place is off the worry list now. Which is good because Joseph gave me his illness. Just allergies my ass. See if I trust his personal diagnosis again. All this down time I ought to be getting some work done, but my ears ache and I’m doing good to keep pumping myself with zicam and Halls, both of which upset my stomach. (Sorry, y’all got whiny Axie tonight.)

We banded three bull calves today. We’d let 3U go and 4U, the big baby out of 59R, got special treatment since he’d had a trauma birth, and then 106P is too unpredictable to chance getting near her calf again until weaning, so we banded him too. Just a note, always iodine the navel last, especially if you still need to band the bull’s balls. The result: hands that look like leprosy, at least according to Dad.

An old-time cold remedy has me up and running today. I got desperate last night and tried a homemade cold cure consisting of horseradish, ginger, garlic, onion, and cayenne peppers. I don’t smell good, but I sure feel better. The sore throat is nearly gone and a little cough remains, but I feel stronger and more motivated. So it’s all playing catch-up today. I didn’t get all my writing done last week.

Seems like I can’t even complete a blog entry this week, let alone anything else. But we got a new puppy yesterday so things are in a little upheaval today. I’m torn between trying to work and trying to play with the new heeler. I’ll put pics of Maxine up as soon as I take them.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

"He taught me housekeeping; when I divorce I keep the house." (Zsa Zsa Gabor)

I am amazingly brain dead today. Got a submission off to Alaska Quarterly. Checked cows. Read. It’s a Saturday. Dad’s off doing siding and the cows are quiet. The writing is still rough going, so since I am such a dipass today, here’s the half-ass blogs from the past few days.

Big Bug was up nursing like a banshee when I did chores this morning. He’s still huge, but at least he isn’t dumb. I told 59R she let this one incubate too long. It’s almost anticlimactic after yesterday, almost boring around here. I like it. Of course, there are still two more cows, at least, who could decide to calve at any given moment. Oh the joys of calving. Not that I didn’t know about them when I signed on, but other people are learning what is it like to hang around with a farm girl during calving season, a whole lot of, “Yeah, we can go (insert activity here). So long as no one’s calving.” Inevitably, either someone is calving or something else goes to shit. The past few nights though I’ve passed on going out to ride horses with Dad. There’s another horse in my case rather than another man.

So today is a writing day, where yesterday was a farming day. It’s proving difficult to switch brains. But I’m whining.

Got another live one on the ground. 27S, one of my first calve heifers, had a little bull calf this afternoon. It was a good day to be born. He’s got all four legs, all two heads… just kidding.

Watching “A Great Deliverance,” the BBC Mystery! version of Elizabeth George’s novel of the same name. It stays relatively true to the novel, better than most book-turned-films.

And back to today. Hopefully the writing process gets better than it’s been. The calves are all doing very well and it looks like a quiet upcoming week.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

We got a live one.

It has been quite a morning (say I at 3:30 in the afternoon). 59R started laboring last night. I found her about 5:30 and she was circling, getting up and down, a normal labor process. No water bag, no feet, we figured it was just early labor. Except for this niggling worry in the pit of my stomach that we needed to get her in the barn. Dad wanted to go riding again, so we saddled horses, drank a few beers, and toured the farm, since bow season restricts our access to the nearby state land. We got a late start and I wanted to get back in time to check on 59R, who, if you will recall, had been as big as a barn and, I thought, popping with twins. The Big Red Bull hasn’t thrown large calves, 70-90 lbs, which is about average for Simmentals. Twins are a whole different ballgame, even worse with sheep than cattle. Eight legs and two heads and if they want out simultaneously… hahahaha! Well, you got a mess.

We got back to the pasture where the cattle calve out just as the sun was going down. And there lay 59R. No feet. No waterbag. No progress. Can I buy a fuckin’ A please? So Dad got the barn ready while I tried (keyword: tried) to get the cows in. Sonny kept popping up on his hind legs. Zip worked good. For a few seconds the horse and dog actually pushed cattle together. I got about half the herd in when Sonny flipped, spazzed out so I couldn’t get the rest of the cows in, including 59R. So back they come at a run, black cattle, in the dark, booking it to the back of the forty acre pasture.

Needless to say, I was not a happy happy Axie.

Dad took Rio, his horse, out to try and push just 59R in slow, but to no avail. He saw a waterbag and suggested we just leave her alone. We both agreed that any more attempts to get her in would just damage the birth process more. I went home with a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that a dead cow would be waiting for me come morning.

Dad went down to the farm before I did. We counted 17 cows. We were missing 59R. I walked back and we found her bedded down in a grassy swath near the woods. Zip and I pushed the cows up, we got her sorted off and in the barn, and went off to work (late) while I put in calls to the vet. The vet who came out knew my grandpa (not that that has any bearing on this story) and did a great job with the cow. We got a lariat around her neck and tied her off before haltering her up and going in to see where the calving malfunction was. 1) It was a fucking big calf. 2) It’s head had snagged on her pelvis. After a cow labors for that long, she begins to lose her dilation. 59R is not a large cow by any stretch of the imagination. It was going to be a hard pull, fast and nasty.

I held the cow’s head down (fat lot of good I do; her head weighs more than me) while the vet assjacked the calf out. And out. And out. The calf just kept coming. So did some of her blood and fatty tissue. She tore inside. But the sweetest sound in the world was the inhale that calf took. I didn’t believe it at first, thought I might have dreamed it. But no. The calf wobbled his head up and blinked, wondering why this strange creature extracted him from the safety of the liquid world he’d inhabited for the past months.

The cow lay on her side, panting, and we moved quickly to unhook the assjack and start working the calf. He had a lot of fluid on his lungs, but his birth cord was still intact, and that was the only reason he had survived. Getting stuck on his momma’s pelvis, oddly enough, also saved his life. Sometimes calves whose heads are in the birth canal too long get swollen heads and the pressure on their brain from all the fluid makes them slow to get up and get going. This one’s head looked just fine.

A few antibiotics later we waved goodbye to the good doctor and Zip and I loaded up in the car for a run to the local farm supply store for a bottle (which we all swear we have but cannot find for anything), colostrum supplement, and electrolytes. I had a feeling ol’ Jr there wasn’t going to get up and nurse without some juices in his stomach. He nursed within about three minutes and sucked the bottle dry. He’d stood up once on his own, but trauma births require a little extra and big calves even more so. I tried to get him to stand to nurse, but we’re within about ten pounds of one another. His tail head comes up past my belt buckle! Probably 110, 115 pounds.

Big Fucking Calf.

So as of noon my little buddy was well on his way to recovering from the trauma of being born. We’ll keep him and Momma in the barn about a week so they have plenty of time to recover. Meanwhile, seven other cows are just biding their time. Oh, and the next thing Bug has to look forward to: the trauma of losing his nuts. :-0 I better go check on my little… scratch that… big buddy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Happiness is a choice that requires effort at times. (Aeschylus)

The cows are quiet. Too quiet. Deceptively quiet. I can almost hear the babies in their bellies sloshing around. I called Dana to see what her spidey sense said about calves (she has a sixth sense for babies on the way), but she thinks it’s all quiet. I feel bad for the people around me right now who aren’t farmers since all I can talk about is this calf or that calf, how this cow’s belly is sitting, or what kind of fluids that cow is excreting. It’s kind of nasty if you aren’t into the whole birthing thing.

I heard crows when I woke up this morning and did a little reading about them. Crows are considered the cleverest of birds. Since they are black but active in daytime, they are a reminder of magic and creation, even during the day. There are five species of crow, ravens included. They prefer open areas or woodsy regions and live in communities where they raise young cooperatively. They are highly vocal birds and will eat both omnivorously and almost anything. See: for more info.

I finally got a breakthrough on the second Taylor book yesterday. YEY! I sat down with it and made myself do the work (thanks Strength) and here I am with a better outlook on life and a new scene floating around in my head. I spend a lot of time thinking about troublesome scenes before I actually sit down and write them. I have to have a sense of the general course of events, who will react how to whom and the general feel of the scene. Dinner with four new weres, a stoic boyfriend, a reviled skinwalker, a werewolf too na├»ve for his own good, and a very tolerant father who doesn’t ask too many questions any more ought to be interesting. I think this is the first time I’ve had this many distinct characters on-screen all at once. The total is 9, plus a dog and a dragon, so 11. Geez. At least Taylor isn’t calving yet. That would add a whole herd’s worth of difficulty, wouldn’t it?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy Autumn Solstice

The calves are still doing good this morning. We had another one over the weekend, a little bull calf that got tagged wrong since Dad called it a heifer. Of course, the calf’s nuts were so small it was hard to tell without a more hands on check, if you see what I’m sayin’.

I read A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George over the weekend, the first book to the Lynley and Havers series. Excellent writing with a great twist at the end. I also started A book by Francine Prose called Reading Like A Writer: A guide for people who love books and for those who want to write them. So far it seems really meaty. I’m still slowly making my way through Catherine Friend’s book, reading a chapter a day and really thinking about it. Besides, there’s so much pain and suffering involved with factory farming and industrialized meat production in America that I can only stomach a little bit of it at a time. Paganism by Joyce and River Higginbotham is one of the most interesting books in my stack right now. It’s a beginner’s guide to earth-centered religions and really eye-opening about how to view Deity and how to reconcile centuries’ worth of conflicting ideas about religion and Deity.

I’m cooking dinner tonight for one of our neighbors who had a stroke and recently came home from the hospital. It’s one of the neat things about living in the community I do is how neighbors, old school ones at least, still take care of each other. They’ve worked it out so every day someone else comes in with a lunch and dinner, so no one has too much responsibility at one time. This man was a great friend of my grandfather’s and I feel bad that I can’t do more for him. Hopefully, a little bit is better than nothing at all.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Success is dependent on effort. (Sophocles)

We did wood today and the calves, Booger and Cinderella, kept escaping. Granted the two events are unrelated and we really haven’t given the calves such horrible names. But it was time to retire the unisex names of Hector and You Fucking Little Dumbass. (Anyone who has ever tried to get a slow calf to nurse in February with a bad chute knows where we got that last one.) So it was a slow day, which is good I suppose. Made a nice dinner of pepper steak, my special potatoes, and salad, and am trying to brain storm for ideas on the popular fiction story I’m trying to write for an upcoming contest. So far no ideas are upcoming as quickly as the contest deadline. Neither are any other writing projects for that matter. Okay, I’m whining. I promised not to do that this blog.

I read The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin the other day. I didn’t really get The Wizard of Earthsea, but I’ve watched the movie since, so Tombs made a little more sense, for all that the movie made great liberties with Le Guin’s work. I’ve started Dante’s The Divine Comedy and Elizabeth George’s A Great Deliverance. They’re both really intriguing. And a great break from writing exercises. (See? there I go whining again. I need to snap a rubber band on my wrist or something every time I do that. If anyone sees me with welts on my wrists, don't ask.)

Did I mention we did a 5K last weekend? Not sure, so sorry if I’m repeating myself. It was a good time although it had rained for days and days and the course was slippery. There’s an 8K in Lansing on Sunday that I opted out of. Not really my thing, having a nature experience with five hundred of my closest friends. I elected to wait in the pub, drink a pint, and go shopping afterward.

"In dreams begins responsibility." (William Butler Yeats)

First off today, a retraction. I said yesterday that 59P was having twins and it’s actually 59R. My bad. Next off, 59P looks like she’s gonna calve today, so we need to get little booger from last week banded and tagged and kicked outside. As spoiled as he is, he’s gonna get a rude awakening when he meets the big, big world, in a good way.

As it worked out today, 59P calved and little 1U, my bull calf, stirred up the herd in a way, it seems, only he is capable of. 2U is a little heifer calf with a blaze on her face and the cutest pink nose. Her mother loves her and 30S looked extremely confused upon realizing that hers was not the only calf in the world. 59P calved in two hours and her calf nursed immediately then laid down in the burdocks. I love calving in the fall. No frozen calves, no frozen needles, no fighting the weather for each and every life. The flies suck, but today was a nice day. A good day to be born. A bad day for writing. Of course, the bad writing days have outnumbered the good ones lately. But then, I am extremely spoiled when it comes to writing. I’m used to good days and lack mastery over the bad. Perhaps that is where I need to focus. Especially with a story due in thirty days.

See why I’d rather blog about my cows?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"It takes a long time to become young." (Pablo Picasso)

Here’s a question: where does imagination end and meditation begin? I’ve been making a study of spirituality lately, and meditation, of course, figures into it. I’ve always had an active imagination and have been trying to tap into it more lately, rediscover how to play. I think too many people lose this ability as they grow older, the one people used to prize children for, the ability to live in reality but see another world as well. Anyway, the exercises for meditation send me into great fantasies, even when I’m awake and talking to someone. So my question for my faith is what is meditation and what is imagination? Are they sometimes one in the same or am I going about it all wrong?

On a more practical note, the calf is doing well and I can’t figure out why 59P hasn’t explored or coughed and had her calves fall out. That’s right. I said calves. Cows can twin and mine do so more than most, or so it seems like. 59P hasn’t twinned before, but her momma has, I’m sure. And the cow is as wide as she is tall right now, which she never is before she calves. It looks like she has saddle bags right now, one calf on one side and one on the other. It looked the other day like one calf had dropped and the poor cow kept licking the higher side and looking intently back at her stomach like, “Hey. Hey-hey-hey! Get a move on! Let’s goooooo!” Can’t blame her though with all that calf in there making noise.

I need to get out more. The cows have started talking to me.

Oh well, it could be worse. Some people I used to know could be talking to me. Move three times in a year and quit returning phone calls: my recipe for losing friends. :-) Aside from that, I started behind this week and the guilt-ridden little man in my head is beating me over the head with his umbrella to “fucking move my lard ass.” Gotta heed the little man sometimes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A moment of silence

Here's a pic of my baby boy when he was, you guessed it, a baby. (He was so cute, what happened?) Those are my feet by the way.

I'm also very grieved to announce that Max, our 18 year old Rottweiler/lab/chow mix, gave up the ghost yesterday and has gone on to a better world. He was crippled with arthritis that I can say that and know it's true, because wherever he's gone, he's free from pain. And I feel deep within myself that he's happier now. But we all who knew him, his spirit, his essance, miss him deeply and will deeply feel his loss for a long time to come.
Blessed be, Max. Return to us, in body or spirit, whenever you can.

"In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost." (Dante Alighieri)

I’m a winter person. There’s something about the cool darkness, the moon on the snow, that feeds my soul. I suppose that’s because snow was one of the first things I ever saw when my dad named me. It’s the first time I’ve voluntarily been awake at four a.m. in longer than I want to think about. I did it for years when I lived up north, calf check, and the time just sort of stuck with me all year, from high school and into my fourth year of college, more or less. It’s still my favorite time of day, even if I don’t get to check cows for babies in subzero temps. (Let’s face it: I could go check them, but they’re on pasture and it would just be more trouble than it’s worth and after all the rain I’d probably step in a night shrouded rabbit hole and drown.)

I keep asking myself why 4 a.m. Truth is, I don’t have a fucking clue. The world isn’t awake yet, at least not at my house. I have that same heavy-eyed tiredness that I do at 2, but I’ve got five hours of sleep under my belt, unless you count the tossing and turning that is oh too usual for me. Throw the S.J. Tucker on top of it and I feel pretty damn creative. I don’t have to compete with my Calvinistic work ethic (it apparently doesn’t wake up until about 7 or so), and I suppose I’m trying to make up for the fact that I just fucked off for two days. We ran a 5K on Sunday and I stayed in, watching tv and just chilling yesterday. (Who am I to fight with a guy who wants to cook me breakfast? Bring it on, baby.)

Dante’s Inferno seems to keep popping up at me lately. It started with Jodi Picoult’s The Tenth Circle (great, great book that I highly recommend) and continued with Loreena McKennitt’s Spanish version of Dante’s Prayer. I’ve been trying to find the best complete translation of The Divine Comedy, since I read parts of Inferno in college. Like Beowulf, something in the story captured me, haunts me. Not many stories do that. Gilgamesh and tales of the armless maiden or girl without arms are two others. (Does Goodnight, Moon count?) J All right, I got up to work. I better get to it before the bitter, derisive little man in my head gets conscious. I think he went out drinking last night.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"A religion that takes no account of practical affairs and does not help to solve them is no religion." (Mohandas Gandhi)

I kept trying to blog yesterday but the internet connection sucked due to weather and I just whined about that. So there’s the recap of a very boring 250 word entry.

It’s raining again today and very gloomy. Good day to sit at my desk, watch movies online, and write. I watched Remains of the Day the other night, written by Kazuo Ishiguro. Good book. Good film. Trying to keep up my exposure to higher culture. Fuckin fat lot of good that does. I still can make a table of concrete guys blush if I try.

I’ve been working on a lot of writing exercises lately, cramming knowledge of writing into my head while taking a break from Taylor and Luke. It’s really helped to learn how to break down the components of a story, not just to analyze and write a paper, but to see how the story is put together.

Oh well. A few thousand other people are probably talking about the exact same thing.

I was reading a book about dogs yesterday and there is some debate about how domestic dogs originated, whether it was from wolves, as commonly believed, or from jackals, African wild dogs, certain species of foxes, or coyotes. An interesting perspective pointed out that in different regions, different animals could have interbred to make a mixture of origins for the domestic dog. I thought that was fascinating and just thought I’d share. Better than hearing me whine.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Calvin' fools or fools calvin'.

Stayed up half the night saving a calf last night. That’ll get you up in the morning. “Hey, did that calf suck?” Boom, I’m outa that bed, Joe or no Joe. Tarot teaches that the Mother and the Father must learn to work together. At least from my perspective, masculine and feminine energies combine forces during calving season, especially when saving a life since one has to nurture and fight all at once.

There’s the daily dose of New Age.

Little Booger got born about 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon. (It’s my first calf of the season, forgive me for going on a bit.) Dad and I found him about 3 and left him and the cow to pair up until about 5 since it looked like he was up trying to nurse. We walked out and gave him his shots. The cow seemed into the calf and everything, so we left them be. I went back about 8 and the cow had left the calf in the fence row. We went to try and drive the cow back to the calf but she wouldn’t go and the calf hunkered down outside the fence and we couldn’t find him. Meanwhile, we got the cows in, but they proved a mite less than willing to go from a dark lot into a darker barn. So we found the calf, tubed it about midnight, and called it a night, hoping the cow would find her way back to the calf.

Unfortunately, she didn’t. So we drove the herd up with the tractor, trapped the cow, and reunited cow and calf.

As of ten o’clock, it looked like the calf had sucked, but the cow’s udder is so large and stiff that it’s almost impossible to tell. For a first calve Simmental heifer, she’s got a udder like a four year old Holstein. At least her teats aren’t blowed out and the calf can get its mouth on. He’s a ninety pound bull calf, black, with a white marking on his forehead and down his muzzle and little white chin hairs that gives him a milk mustache. All calves are cute, but he’s just great. He’s muscular and thick and a beautiful first live calf out of my big red bull. I’m real creative with bull names lately: Big Red Bull and Little Red Bull.

The rest of the herd doesn’t seem in any hurry to calve. Hopefully Big Red bred them all. So far almost everyone is making udders and starting to breakdown in back (trust me, if you don’t know what this means, you don’t want me to explain it). The heat broke so the cattle are a lot more comfortable. Other than the rain yesterday that the baby got born in, the cows seem real comfortable. And little Booger seemed the only one who minded the rain. Other than the dumbass humans chasing black cattle in the dark to try and trap a negligent momma cow.

Monday, September 8, 2008

If it ain't broke, why recycle?

The word of the day seems to be conservation. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say global warming is a real threat. You don’t have to be a farmer to notice the weather changes, the increased severity in some places and the nullification of seasons in others. But I still don’t recycle, unless you count burning our garbage to heat our house in the wintertime. I still don’t really want to switch to miniature cattle, like Dexters, even though they appear to be cheaper and easier to maintain on less acreage and produce less methane gas. Why? Because I, like many Americans, don’t see instantaneous results. Let’s face it: we are a nation obsessed with instant gratification. Watch any Sunday morning infomercial to see that in action. So if we don’t take the ten minutes a day to make ourselves svelte or can’t resist that extra piece of chocolate, even though we couldn’t button our jeans this morning, what makes anyone think we’re going to save the planet? There’s no tangible results for the everyday Joe or Jane to see.

In my opinion, it goes deeper than that, to changing the psychology of society itself. In ancient cultures, people showed respect for the earth. Where do we do that now? Do we thank the plants we harvest? Do we give the bull that makes our McDonald’s double-cheese burger a shout-out for dying so we can eat? Hell no. We try to teach the kids about timber cutting in the rain forest and acid rain but what do we teach them at home? Do we take them to the garden and teach them to thank the dandelions they pick? Do we tell them to thank the spirit of the pig that made the pork chop for supper or the bologna for their sandwich?

I would like to say that I do these things. I try to remember, but sadly, even I forget. It’s a change of habit and, as any alcoholic or smoker will tell you, changing the habits of a lifetime are the toughest. This is not a change that is related to politics or religion, it is a way of showing respect for the world around you and cultivating an appreciation for what we take from the earth and seldom give back. Because that, in my uneducated and humble opinion, is where people wronged the earth in the first place, we forgot to give back as much as we take. You wouldn’t stay friends with someone who took half your shit and didn’t return it, so why should the planet keep giving when we don’t give back, or even make an honest effort to?

All in all, try to respect the space around you. The results may surprise.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Go ahead, fuck it up.

It’s raining for what feels like the first time in months. It’s been an odd day, of course I’ve been a little lazy. I’ve been really uptight with things lately and haven’t spent a night off the farm since before Dad went to Oregon, so I took last night to just chill. Thanks Joe, for dinner and helping me simmer down a little. The day kinda continued in that vein, watching a movie while working on various writing projects. Then Dad and I got to talk and I’m finally not going to bed mad, just a little brooding, about agriculture, about writing. I’ve spent a lot of time with Luke lately, a character who has become demanding after waiting nearly twelve years for me to tell his story. I think I might have to tools to do that now. The plot in particular has caused me to search for a whole new bag of writer’s tricks. Luke himself has always intrigued me, a grandfather and his grandson in a unique situation. And Luke is not your typical grandfather at only 47, neither is Luke’s father, Chase, in his late 60s. It’s taken a long time to find my way through their story, to mire through the plot and try to add tension. Just because I love my characters doesn’t mean anyone else will be satisfied with hanging out and having a beer and a smoky treat with them unless fire breathing dog monsters are attacking and the reader feels Luke’s fear that he will lose his grandson to the mad wizard as he already lost his lover and daughter. I’m not yet either, but I’m getting closer. I’m trying to subscribe to the attitude I use with training horses: listen to everyone and their methods, then decide what works for you and this horse at that particular moment in time. Don’t be afraid to change it up and try something else. The worst that can happen is that you fuck it up. At least you tried.

Monday, September 1, 2008

"It is a profitable thing, if one is wise, to seem foolish." (Aeschylus)

A good day, but a frustrating one. Just got done with my workout and a shower, sitting at my desk with only a small desk lamp for light. The fan draws in the cool night air and I can hear the crickets outside while the occasional insect falls stunned into my lap from a run in with the light bulb. It’s my favorite time of day. I’m watching a nature show on cranes and staring at the printout from the second Taylor story, trying to get into writing mode. I sat out with the cows for awhile tonight, despite the gnats. They all look so good, so happy. At sunset, they spread out grazing and it feels like walking with earth goddesses. Just at dark the horses came running out, my white colt (who at six will always act like a colt) and my paint, followed by the bay and the sorrel, who all came running like mystical beasts through the settling night.

It’s easy to wax poetic in a cow pasture at night.

I finished a great book tonight. I picked it up on a whim in the library. It’s called The Year the Horses Came by Mary Mackey. It’s along the lines of Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear (which I haven’t read yet, but plan to) and Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Forest House, The Lady of Avalon, or Mists of Avalon books. I’m not sure how accurate the history is, but once the story begins, Mackey draws the reader in and makes you feel so involved in the happenings and the way of life, that you can’t believe the world ever had a good reason to change from a mother goddess worshipping culture. I really can’t say enough about this book. It combined two of my interests, those being alternative religions, anthropology, fiction, and horses.

I better stop ruminating and get to work though. Although, I’m not yet sure what I’ll get to work on. I stalled on writing a Taylor scene and there’s a weird bug under my keyboard keys. Later.

Lions and tigers and cows, oh my!

Let’s just say I took some time off for Labor Day. And to pick up Dad and Deja. Dad and I stayed up talking until 4 a.m. His clock is still skewed. So we’ve been reorganizing. I processed tomato sauce today and we’ve got venison jerky marinating. Tomorrow we start drying after we move cows and I take Deja back to college. Thank the gods I’m not there.

I watched a Nature on cows tonight, “Holy Cow.” It was extremely interesting to me as a cattle breeder. It covered the human-cow relationship since domestication, although who domesticated who remains a mystery, much like the controversy with dogs. The most interesting items, at least to me, was that according to the author of Fast Food Nation, Henry Ford (a fair god in Michigan) got the idea for the assembly line from the slaughter houses in Chicago. A dissemble-ly line, if you will. Second, industrialization has desensitized us as a culture to the death of the animals who feed us. In contrast, the Maasai of Africa give their animals a clean death, honor their sacrifice, and use every part of the animal, as many societies have done throughout history. One interviewee called industrialized farming a blip on the screen, since it is non-sustainable. Some ranchers are now gentling their cattle, for calving purposes, something that benefits both man, who doesn’t get hurt as badly, and for the cattle, who live a better life.

I was taught that as a farmer or animal husbandrist, our job is to give the animals in our care the best life possible. But I’ve learned since that a good death is as important as well. I believe that global societies would be much improved with more attention to the lives of the animals who feed us. We should honor these animals, not fight for their rights, but for their welfare. I am not an animal rights activist. Animals do not have rights, not as people do, but people do have an obligation, a responsibility, to care for the animals, and the world, around us.

I’ll get off my soapbox now.