So I woke up this morning and made my daily pilgrimage down to the goat pen in order to warm up the girls’ water only to discover a horrible scene of carnage. My poor Eek managed to find a weak point in the metal siding of her barn and sliced open her hoof, leaving a bloody mess and causing her tenderhearted caretaker (me) to pretty much burst into tears.
Hobbling up on three hooves, I brought her into the house (we have a solarium that doubles as a veterinary clinic when necessary) and proceeded to ascertain exactly what had happened. Aside from the aforementioned bloody mess, her hoof suffered a clean slice from a loose piece of siding (which has since been fixed). After rinsing with warm water and wrapping with clean gauze and other first aid supplies, she is back in her cozy barn hopefully recovering well.
The reason I am relating this tale is two fold. Firstly, as a woman new to the world of livestock, I am constantly amazed at how much work it takes to care for these animals. It isn’t like having a dog or a cat, at least so far. They are larger, they do not live with me, meaning their environment is constantly suspect simple because I am not in it, and it is rather difficult to throw one in a carrier, put it in the car and rush off to a vet. Although it should be noted, I have a wonderful vet who will come to me if necessary.
Secondly, I find that even though the above things come into play and these animals are basically a food source, my concern for them is no less than my concern for my companion animals. In fact in some ways it is heightened because I do not live intimately with them. They are outside, exposed to the elements and without my company for extended periods of the day. Which inclines me to worry more, not less.
All this is simply an elaborate way of sharing my concerns about my animal husbandry career. I am not the kind of person who can simply write my goats off as being “just livestock” and proceed to treat them as such. I worry about them hurting, I worry they are cold, I am concerned at this point that I have not adequately anticipated the safety of their environment, and I hate the thought of anything else bad happening.
The reason this is relevant to this blog is that it really makes me wonder how people, particularly those people involved in big ag, can treat the animals with such insensitivity and lack of compassion. How can you not thank your animals for providing for you? How can you have such a lack of respect for yourself and your food? It boggles my mind.
I may be a basket case come kidding time, and god help me if and when my animals get really sick and eventually pass away, but at least I respect them and strive to treat them well. I am thankful for every quart of milk my goats give me and I want them to know it. And that is why I will no doubt wander down to the pen this evening after I put my son to sleep, just to make sure my girl is okay.