Coming to terms...

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by rainplace, Nov 3, 2010.

  1. rainplace

    rainplace Interstellar Duck Academy

    I sold three head of cattle a few days ago, and it wasn't an easy thing for me to do. I spent a lot of time wondering what their life would be like especially knowing their life thus far has been a good one. I finally had to realize that there are only two ways off the farm for our cattle, dead and heading to the butchers or live and heading to some unknown place. Both options make me cry. However after much agonizing, I've come to realize that I prefer dead and heading to the butchers.

    Really this is what it's all about. Every livestock animal we sell as meat is one less animal who didn't come off a feedlot, one less animal who didn't get raised in confinement, one less animal who didn't have to experience the stress of travel, and one less animal who goes off to the unknown.

    I'm struggling as I become closer to my food source. But when I look at pictures of where my meat currently comes from I find it easier to pull my big girl panties up and deal with everything that comes along with raising our own food. Sometimes though the big girl panties just feel too big for me.

    Example: Recently we brought the vet out, ran the cattle through the shoot, made some steers, vaccinated and wormed them. It was a great day to finally give the herd the care they have needed for such a long time. However there has been a downside. Mature cows were vaccinated for Bangs disease, and though the vet told us what might happen, we didn't really hear it. A month later I'm finding miscarried calves in the pastures. I'm dealing with cows who have retained placentas because they didn't have a live calf to nurse them and help their uterus contract enough to push it through. I've had to put my arm up a cow to remove the rotten placenta. I've now learned I can put the cow through the headgate and milk her instead if we catch it within 48 hours before her cervix completely closes.

    But I've watched a cow lick and lick and lick and lick her dead calf trying to get it to breathe and I can't help but feel an enormous amount of guilt. Look what I did. I learned at the expense of life.

    But it's done, and now I walk the pastures not only looking to see if everyone is okay, but to check the ground for miscarried calves. I wonder if it isn't time to become a vegetarian as I put something dead in a bucket and bury it.

    No, I don't give up. Not yet anyway. This too shall pass.

    I have some muscovy ducklings that I bought to keep the lone duckling company. Turns out that out of the five I bought, four are males. As with the cows, I've found I'm unable to sell ducks either. I sold three a couple of months ago and still cannot stop thinking what sort of life they live. I'm trying to build up a flock of egg layers for our CSA and farm store. I guess I could just buy females from a hatchery instead of hatching them myself, but again I run into a moral dilemma; what happens to all the males that no one wants? I guess it's time for me to turn to an all purpose duck, a duck who has egg laying capabilities as well as meat, or not bother.

    If I cannot butcher the male muscovies, I shouldn't bother... then I either give up eggs altogether or turn the blind eye to the life of a battery hen. I do know some people that raise chickens and ducks for eggs, I could buy from them, but they go through the same things and they either butcher males, or buy from hatcheries. I do it or let someone else do it. What sort of person am I?

    What sort of person do I want to be? I'm in the process of once again remaking myself. I want to live a sustainable life, I want to contribute to my family. The idea of raising my own food, and selling some of it is something that my dreams are made of. The reality is harsher than the dream. I'm not ready to give up... I've gone this far.

    Anyone else struggling with this sort of thing?
  2. rainplace

    rainplace Interstellar Duck Academy

    oops... it occurred to me that I've given no back background on how I acquired this herd... oh well, suffice it to say they were in poor to fair shape when they came to me - also maybe I have this in the wrong forum...
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2010
  3. Nekhebet

    Nekhebet Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 25, 2010
    Yes, on a smaller scale. I bought some coturnix.....with the idea that we'll eat the males. I've come to realize that if I'm not starving, I have no desire to end something's life to feed myself. [​IMG]

    If I were in dire need of food, I think I would have less of a problem being the catalyst for their deaths. But to kill because I *want* meat for dinner....that's something I'm struggling with. After all was said and done, I ate the quail after my husband killed them, because to not do so would make their deaths a waste. I struggle with it as well because I know that every time we put commercial poultry in our mouths we're contributing to things that aren't ideal and possibly eating things that I'd rather not have my family eat....
  4. redhen

    redhen Kiss My Grits... Premium Member

    May 19, 2008
    Western MA
  5. herfrds

    herfrds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2010
    I am desperately hoping and praying that you protected yourself fully when you were dealing with the dead calves and placenta.
    Brucellosis is transmitable to humans, undulant fever.
  6. rainplace

    rainplace Interstellar Duck Academy

    Quote:All mature cows tested negative for brucellosis when they were given their 1/4 vaccine. And yes, I've protected myself.
  7. coloradochick

    coloradochick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 19, 2007
    Brighton, CO
    You've got compassion and love for a being other than yourself. It does make that lifestyle more difficult to deal with but I for one commend you on your honesty and your heart. Nekhebet hit a great point. If you're not starving then why kill something to help you live...

    I have a hard time eating meat. I always think "Who am I to think this animal owed it's life for me" I think too much about it but that's who I am.

    eta I only have chickens right now and couldn't fathom killing one to eat.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2010
  8. Rozzie

    Rozzie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 14, 2010
    I understand. I am a vegetarian and have poultry. My personal belief system does not allow me to eat my birds. However, I cannot give away or sell the birds I have raised, either. I know what their end would be. Even if they went to be a "breeder" for someone, they would probably eventually end up butchered.

    Because of this, I always have a lot of male birds. (I also only get straight run birds to avoid the deaths of males to supply me with females.) This is part of why I've got quail now, not chickens. 10-12 male quail are quieter than 10-12 roosters...or they darn well better be.
  9. geebs

    geebs Lovin' the Lowriders!

    Sep 28, 2008
    This too will come to pass... Lots of hugs...sounds like a bad week.. I too have to come to terms with mortality and responsibility for my animal husbandry... I put down my daughters horse on Monday... (he was colicking) and helped my Doctors horse on Tues (he is in ICU fighting for his life) and I gave his horse Ace and he had a reaction... It knocked him out bigtime(that was sooo hard to deal with... as I thought he was dying) and then I came home to my own old horse down in a stall... I am scheduled to put her down tomarrow... It is such a raw edgey feeling... I have my Kevlar big girl panties on this week... It is enough to make me not want animals at all...

    We all have to come to terms with out choices... You do the best and let God make up the rest i say... I know what you mean... It is choices and how we carry ourselves and how to move through today into tomarrow and still be able to hold our head up... At the end of the day we are meat eaters and they are food... (your cows)... You are a good person... None of us gets out of this alive... It really is the circle of life... Thank them for their service and do what must be done... I hear it gets easier every time.... I have no personal experience with cows but I have put down more horses that most ppl who have had them... I can tell you from experience it does get easier..

    My new motto (at least for the week) A good friend holds the rope. This might work well for cattle as well... My heart goes out to you as you journey through this... Is there a support group for this???? There should be. [​IMG] [​IMG]
  10. newfoundland

    newfoundland Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2010
    Completely understand how you feel. My son's dog had seven puppies and no one could find it in their heart to find new homes for them. What would their future be, how could we be sure they were being well cared for? You've guessed it, we kept them all. Our few acres house all the other 'rescues' we have found over the years or more truthfully have found us. It's hard to give up the creatures that you carefully nurtured. I am a vegetarian for this reason but cook meat for my family. Each to their own.

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