A humorous, yet educational reminder in the interaction with livestock from the whimsical author’s childhood viewpoint.
City Cousins Visit Country Cousins
The sun shown brightly into the car window as we pulled up to my aunt and uncle’s farm in northern Illinois. My two younger brothers, my parents and I were greeted by our very tall relatives in the doorway as we approached the tall white house. My two cousins, only a couple years older than I, towered over me as their long blonde hair caused me envy.
Time to Explore
Everyone gathered in the living room to catch up. While I found this boring at eight years old, I slipped out to do what any youth would do visiting a farm.
I first climbed the gate to the cattle pasture to pat the head of a heifer seemingly craving my attention. In the distance I hear the swine squealing loudly deterring my attention from Madam Big Brown Eyes.
Peek a Boo Pigs
I found myself well entertained by the fact that when I approached the pen while the pink portly creatures ate, they were spooked and ran back inside of the pole barn. As they began coming back out of the barn, I yelled. They ran back in. Oh this was fun! Sadly it needed to get cranked up a notch in entertainment. This time I went around the corner, out of sight.
Wet Manure vs. Gravity
Running around the corner, after waiting for them to come out completely across the concrete pad to their food troughs; I hollered just in time to leave a memory embedded in my brain.Their eyes got as big as earth globes, as such time-defying slow motion occurred. It was like a scene in a cartoon. As the herd of at least thirty very large swine tried to escape my obnoxiousness, their feet and bodies slid on the fresh, wet manure. Squealing and escaping the best they could left me standing there ready to cry.
Knocking on the Door
Now to face the music. With my head and arms as extended from my body as best as possible; the cold, wet stench created a very long walk to the house. I was so sopped, I dreaded knocking on the door. I thought about taking a lap around the house to peer in the windows to survey the mood, but I decided to chance it. I wanted to spend not another second in such misery.
Once I knocked on the door, I saw my father’s silhouette through the window. When that door opened, the horror drawn on that man’s face has been unforgettable. Asking me what happened, horror was soon replaced by disappointment as he quickly scooted me shamefully away from the doorway. He told me I would have to clean up outside first. As he looked for a hose, I am thinking how absolutely humiliating this ordeal is going to be. He hosed me down. Not one shred of shame was washed away. If I wasn’t cold before I was now; feeling like a poop Popsicle in spring.
Wash Away The Shame
I was ordered to wait outside as my father went into the house to inform his sister of my idiotic behavior and respond accordingly. Did she ever. She brought out a big towel and wrapped me in it. As she walked me into the house everyone came to the entryway to see the display. Steering me off to the left, and away from the audience; she escorted me into the bathroom where she started the shower for me. Taking my clothes from me, she told me I could wear some of my cousin’s clothes until my mine were through in the wash. Oh I was so embarrassed. My aunt saw me naked. Oh how grimy I felt as the hot water hit me. I bet I let that water run over my body for a half an hour.
As the smells of delicious fresh farm food was cooking, I slowly thawed my humility and got back to my hyper, undesirable demeanor. Seeing that they had clothes that fit me, I was sent along with a box of second-hand scores. I sure learned a lesson that morning! If you want to grab the bull by the horns you better be ready for his undesirable stench to shower you with love. Figuratively speaking… maybe.
Which Farm Is Healthier For Our World?
Over-crowding, confining animals causing injuries & ill
|Animals given ample space to graze naturally|
Over-use & unnecessary use of antibiotics
Antibiotics only used if absolutely needed
Waste lagoons (for holding the millions of billions of manure-USDA estimate- produced yearly) pollute the environment
Owners raise only what their land can handle & use the manure as chemical-free fertilizer
See animals solely as commodities-tend to be wasteful
Respectful of nature & animals
Pollute the air producing more than 400 different gases
Living as stewards of the land, sustainable, family-owned farms strive to conserve and dignify the environment
Produce a nutrient-inferior, potentially diseased food for human consumption
Produce a healthier food for us
Moral Of The Story
While this story was entertaining, I also want to point out how toxic some farms can be. The farm we visited in my childhood was not perfect, but it was a typical American farm (though I have seen much worse). What’s so bad about that? Let’s take a look at some comparisons shall we?
In 2007 Mother Earth News tested the nutritional value of yard eggs versus the eggs found in the supermarket (USDA approved commercial eggs). The following bold section is quoted from the Mother Earth News website:
• 1/3 less cholesterol
• 1/4 less saturated fat
• 2/3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene
The test (in a Portland, Oregon laboratory) was not done on just one farm among a couple hens, 14 different flocks around the country had their eggs tested.
I have owned chickens. Enriching relationship. They ate all the bugs in my yard and laid us eggs, and we gave them love. They were lots of fun. The eggs were so rich!
The color of the yolk, the whites, the condition of the eggs, the flavor; everything about them made me wish I had begun eating free-range (true free-range) eggs long ago. Yes, a carton of yard eggs may cost more, but you get so much more. Do you eat to fill your belly or to nourish your body?
Insightful, Recommended Read
What The Bible Says
While the Bible states that we have been granted power over all animals, it also states that, in at least seven verses throughout the bible, humans are to respect animals.
There are countless videos on sites such as YouTube showing displays too gruesome to include in this article. How is that respect?
If you were against abortion, would you still go to an abortion clinic for a pelvic exam? Why would you purchase meat that very well could have been diseased before wrapped up in bleached white paper and served to your beloved family?
☮For the record, I am not affiliated with any organized religion.
Factory Farming In 60 Seconds: What God Intended?
What Do You Know About The Meat
You stopped at the store on your way home from work. You see a slab of meat that appeals to you and you take it home. Do you ever think about where it came from (factory farm or family farm)? Did it even come from the United States? Was it healthy (raised in a healthy environment)? What do you know about FDA or USDA regulations? Does it matter to you what you put in your body?
Cruelty Of Factory Farming
ASPCA: Ways To Fight Factory Farms
The ASPCA lists ways you can make efforts to stop the “factory” concept of farming.
1. Get educated. Learn what you can about factory farming through articles like this and the websites I site within this article as well.
2. Learn about how the meat you buy gets processed. Ask at the meat department where the meat they sell comes from. Find out if the animals were confined or “free-range” Talk to local farmers to find out more as well.
3. Take a stand. Only purchase meat from known, healthy sources, limiting or eliminating the amount of meat you purchase is also another way to fight for the cause.
4. Write Legislation. Your voice counts. Demand healthier a environment for our food supply.
5. Meet what you eat. Ask to visit a farm or an animal sanctuary. See how the animals live; interact with each other, how they interact with humans and their eating habits. Compare animals living in confinement versus grazing in the open fresh air.
6. Volunteer at a family farm. Helping out with even the simple chores can be a great help and supports a healthy food source for us.
7. Don’t turn your back on the helpless. If you see something, anything, report it. Our health is at jeopordy when you don’t say something. Document and report what you see.
8 Get active. Promote the cause; educate and find others willing to support the cause and write letters to fight factory farms.
Growing your own vegetables and herbs is not only healthy and enriching, but economical. Do you know where the produce comes from that you purchase as your local store? How local is it? What kind of chemicals are you possibly ingesting? By growing your own, you know exactly what you are eating and it is fresh.
Fresh yard eggs are another way you can provide your family with healthier eating. Find out if your community approves backyard chickens. If not, find out why and educate them; possibly changing local laws to permit a healthy concept.
Growing your own produce and raising chickens is fun and easy. There are many sites to provide you with how-to information (see my references).
Also sharing with those in need is beneficial as well. If you have the space in your front yard, many people are now growing edible gardens in their front yard space. Providing yourself, and possibly by-passers the enjoyment of an edible garden creates a healthier community on a multitude of levels.
Read More from My References
Antibiotic Resistant Factories factsheet, Cathy Holtslander, Beyond Factory Farming Coalition, 2007
Feedlot cattle with excitable temperaments have tougher meat and higher incidence of dark-colored lean, Journal of Animal Science, (1997) 75:892-896
USDA (United States Department of Agriculture)
ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty)