Big brothers make you tough. Mine teased me unmercifully… he landed several good solid punches…he made me do pushups for at least what seemed like hours when he was supposed to be “baby-sitting”…
I think that I truly understood the full glory of the art of problem solving the day that he took a good solid shot at my stomach forgetting that I now wore a back brace. Hearing his knuckles crack against the hard plastic of the brace still brings a smile to my face…When I remember the look of shock on his face, the smile turns to a large grin…I won’t mention the fact that I might have enticed him just a little bit to take that punch knowing full well what the outcome would be…After that day, we found a new respect for one another…
Big brothers not only make you tough…they also make you SMART!
As an adult, I face many practical and “hands on” challenges caring for animals and interacting with Mother Nature. However, I find that the one challenge which takes me back to those days as a child when I grappled with the concept of “fairness for the underdog” is the public misinformation that surrounds Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) like mine. When less than 2% of the American population has any direct ties to a farm, it is very easy for misinformation to circulate.
Calf #718 is about the change his address as he moves from AL Ranch to my feed yard (CAFO). How much will his life change?
*He will ride in a truck for the first time for a couple of hours as he makes the journey.
*His caregivers will change from Al and Sallie and their crew to Anne and her crew.
*He will live in a different pen than the “background pen” that he has been in since weaning time, although he will still have plenty of room to express natural bovine play behavior in the new pen.
*He will be in closer proximity to animals from other herds than he was at the ranch.
*His diet will shift to a little more grain and a little less hay as he is prepared for harvest.
Does he exit the truck at my feed yard and enter a giant and evil domain sometimes known as a factory farm?
I remember clearly the first time that someone called me a “Factory Farmer”.
What exactly is a factory farm anyway?
The honest truth is that I really am not sure what exactly a “factory farm” is other than a product of someone’s imagination. Many of the descriptions that I have read in the media depict a place similar to Azkaban in Harry Potter World where the wizards are kept in prison and the jail keepers are creatures that suck the souls out of them (my favorite middle schooler is a big Harry Potter fan). As I work each day at the feed yard, I see a very different picture.
My CAFO houses cattle who are cared for by people. There is no mechanized “factory” that accomplishes this…
I began working at the feed yard as a 22 year old Ivy League graduate because I thought that raising and caring for food animals was an admirable vocation. I began blogging because I wanted to share the true story of my animal care. As “tough skinned” as my brother made me during childhood, it still bothers me terribly to be described in the same terms as the Dementors in Harry Potter.
I am an American.
I am a wife.
I am a mother.
I am a cattle caregiver.
I work at a CAFO.
I laugh, I cry, I love, I live, I care with every fiber of my being…
I hope that you think of me when you go the grocery store and look at the beef in the meat-case because it is people like me that care for cattle and raise beef.
I am not a factory…