Monday, September 1, 2008

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.