I realize I’ve been absentee. It’s Mardi Gras time in Louisiana, and life has been extra busy. Everyone here is off of work and school from Friday afternoon through Thursday morning. We have parades and rodeos and events scheduled throughout the holiday weekend.
We had a youth rodeo Saturday night. We had a great time full of fun with friends and dirt and livestock. I fully realize that our way of life is endangered. Farming is endangered. The more people quit drinking milk, the more farmers lose their livelihoods. The more people become vegetarian, the less beef cows and chickens and pigs we will need to own and produce. This makes me sad.
We LOVE our way of life. We LOVE our animals. Yes, they are used for food. But that’s ok. We care for them daily. We tromp through the mud to carry them feed and hay that we have purchased for them. We break ice to make sure they have fresh water. We make sure they are bred at the right age, and we attend the births to make sure they don’t need help. We protect those babies from wild dogs and coyotes and foxes and cold weather and drought. We pour into them so that they have the best possible life. In return, we use them for food.
The honest truth is, they will die anyway. Possibly by a pack of dogs in the wild. Possibly by disease from lack of vaccinations and antibiotics when necessary. Possibly by freezing to death because they don’t have shelter or anyone to provide fresh water when it’s frozen.
God gave us the animals. This passage is from the first chapter of Genesis:
26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”
27 So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”
Then later, in the New Testament, after Christ had ascended, God gave this command in Acts:
The next day as Cornelius’s messengers were nearing the town, Peter went up on the flat roof to pray. It was about noon, and he was hungry. But while a meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.”
“No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean.”
But the voice spoke again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was suddenly pulled up to heaven.
God gave us animals for food. In the Old Testament, what the people ate was restricted. In the New Testament, God lifted the food restrictions and said all things are edible.
Farms are a haven for animals, not a prison. They are cared for like family. They are valuable life on a farm. Animals are not tortured, abused, or mistreated. As a veterinarian and a farm owner, trust me when I say we care for the animals. We serve them every single day. We love them and our way of life.
I want to share this with you, from an anonymous colleague:
“Hey guys. It’s me. I need to get this off my chest because I am angry. And I am sad.
At the Oscars this year, there was an assault on the industry that my husband and I have dedicated our working lives to. In the speech, there was a reference to how disconnected we have become from the natural world. I agree with this. I spend every day of my life in the natural world, and I recognize the disconnect. My husband and I spent a literal fortune, and many years of our lives, to learning about this natural world. This morning, I worked alongside people who start their day at 2AM to spend the next 14 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, taking care of and assuring the health and well-being of dairy cows. And yet we trust the opinion of someone in Hollywood to tell us how it’s going. How it works.
I want to tell you a story about something that is much more worthy of an Oscar’s speech. A few years ago, I went on a call to see a sick goat (one of a few owned by the family). While I was there, the woman’s bright young child, maybe six or seven years old, stole a banana from the front seat of my vet truck. Why? Because he was starving. The family was poor, and they were starving. The goat was providing for their family. I still think about that family. I wonder how they are doing. I wonder how/if they’ve survived.
Yesterday, I saw a sick small animal patient whose bill was paid for by an elderly neighbor because the person could not afford the exam fee to have the animal looked at.
A friend lost her brother to drug addiction a few months ago. The son of a coworker. A bright, handsome, charming young person who had his whole life ahead of him.
Children are starving in this country. Yup, right in front of our eyes. People are suffering and dying from drug abuse. And yet Hollywood is focusing on animals that receive more medical care and good feeding and welfare than our country’s children. It makes my stomach churn.
Please, if you have questions about the dairy industry, ask an expert.
And please, if you want to focus on a cause, focus on poverty and drug addiction in our rural communities in America. Focus on child hunger. That’s where the need is. We’ve got the cows covered.”
Have a beautiful Lenten Season as you prepare your heart for Easter.