I love so much getting to talk and write about farming. Especially when it’s the things we love, like harvesting a bountiful crop, or planting as a family, or watching the calves run and play together. Those are the joyous seasons we get to share ,that I get to pass on in my writing. It’s easy to talk about the mountain tops in our lives, but when we are placed in the valley it gets dark and somber. We don’t want to talk about the low times, we just want to sprint as fast as we can back to the mountain top and linger up there. If only that’s how life worked. But God has different plans, and he’ll bring us out of the valley when he is ready. So while I’m down here I’m going to pray that he would teach me in this time and let me grow spiritually.
This week has been hard for the farm, which means hard for my family. It’s not a fun time to be a farmer for most people. Commodity prices are low, expenses are high, ground is hard to come by, and there isn’t much wiggle room for profit. It has been one thing after another the past week and I told a friend that I felt like we were pushed to the ground, and then being kicked while we were down there. She gently reminded me that the devil likes to sneak in and put those nasty thoughts in our heads while we’re down. It’s okay to fall down, but you can’t stay there. We know that this is a part of farming, and we are inevitably going to go through it. It’s the ugly of farming.
Yesterday afternoon I was home in my yoga pants with one boy asleep and one playing. I didn’t feel great so I wasn’t planning on going anywhere the rest of the day, but Jake called and said that he needed me to bring him the tube for a calf. We had a calf born premature, and was so small and weak that it couldn’t even lift its head. We got the cow in the chute and I got to witness my husband milk a cow for the first time, which I have to admit was pretty neat to see. He put the colostrum in a bottle to try to get the calf to suck, but it was too weak and didn’t even have the sucking reflex.
The poor thing was fading fast, so we took it into the office to warm it up and tube it. I held it in my lap and watched it take it’s last breath. I watched my husband sigh and shake his head. There was nothing else we could have done to save it. It was born too early, and just wasn’t ready for this world. But that didn’t take the pain away of watching one of our animals die. We see it happen more often than we would like, but it never gets easier. I think if it wasn’t hard on someone, that they’re probably in the wrong business.
Watching that calf got me thinking, if you’ve ever seen a calf get tubed, you know it’s not necessarily the most gentle or aesthetically pleasing process. It was done it attempt to save the calf’s life, but if someone would have taken a video of that and put it on the internet with a caption saying we were torturing our animal, it probably would have spread like wildfire. We would have had activists threatening our family, tearing us down, and calling us monsters. All for trying to save that animal.
That’s the problem with all of these pictures and videos floating around now that are shared as “animal cruelty” videos; most of them are completely manipulated. Watching a short clip or looking at a picture doesn’t give you the story, and often leaves out the crucial parts. It’s easy to make an assumption, but that doesn’t mean it’s the truth.
So, I have a plea for you today. Please, if you ever have a question about something you see, or a practice that you don’t understand, ask an actual farmer or rancher. Before spreading misinformation even more, go straight to the source and get the facts and the whole story. I can almost guarantee you that if you go ask a farmer or rancher about something they do, they will be glad to tell you. We have nothing to hide, and we want to get the truth out there. We have valid reasons for the things we do, and they might look off to you, but just ask us. Part of advocacy is to be transparent, not sugarcoat, and even though we have to do things sometimes that don’t look that pretty, we have a reason for everything we do.