My dogs are spoiled rotten. They are total indoor slugs that I indulge. Here’s the thing, they were bred to be that way. My dogs are house pets, not working animals. There’s a huge difference.
A particularly alarming event has been unfolding in New York state over the past couple of weeks and I think everyone needs to know about it whether you have animals of any kind or not. Something is happening all over this country that threatens everything I think is right about small scale farming and I am at a loss.
Jon Katz just posted Gofundme – Save West Wind Acres from an Orwellian Nightmare. They are going through something I can’t even imagine, yet in following this I realize that it can happen to every single one of us that has animals of any kind.
This winter has been brutal – snow, wind, bitter cold. My dogs spent most of it by a fire in the wood stove. I can’t say the same for my chickens and a good deal of worry went into how they were fairing in that coop in the cold. Their water was heated. The coop was situated in a place to catch what little winter sun we had and it was up against the east side of our house to cut down on the wind that would hit their building. Their bedding was deep. I was fortunate and the only casualties were a number of eggs frozen solid that weren’t collected in a timely manner. If I’m honest there might have been a couple of combs that had a little frostbite.
I grew up with a menagerie of farm animals – horses, cows, goats, a couple of sheep, chickens. We took good care of our animals. They had shelter available to them at all times. They had good pasture, they had fresh water but they had a choice of where they stayed no matter what the weather was. I remember seeing the horses standing just on the other side of the fence (quite a ways from their shelter) on a cold, cold day with freezing rain. There backs were covered with sleet and there were icicles hanging from their chins. Did they know they could go inside out of the weather? Of course they did. Would they? Not on your life. I think they were afraid they would miss something if they weren’t overlooking the backyard.
We seem to be experiencing a loss of freedom at a rate I can’t begin to understand. Someone can file a complaint about their perception of something happening in my backyard and I can be arrested, brought to court or fined. What ever happened to trust in personal responsibility? I live with small farmers all around me. I would be the last person to file a complaint based on something I see as I’m driving or walking by a place. I never before thought about what it meant to live in a world where a person’s ignorance regarding nature, farming, food production, gardening was so extreme that they presume they know better and need to call the “authorities” to rescue whatever I’m raising.
We are being regulated to death. I’d like to be able to take responsibility for my own well being. If I go to a workshop at someone’s house I’ll risk illness by drinking their well water. I’d like to take the risk in eating that whoopie pie baked in someones home kitchen and brought to the school bake sale. While I’m at it I will be also eating those dill pickles that aunt Bertha made with very little processing. I’ll eat that tomato or potato or cucumber right from the garden, just wiping the dirt off on my jeans. I want my cheese made with raw milk, thank you. If I get sick the only one I have to blame is myself. I’ll take my own risks as mundane as they seem. I really take offense at someone telling me what I can and can’t do. Wow, aren’t there a lot of you out there that are with me on this? Do you feel like things have been taken too far? Are people soooooo stupid that they have to be forced into eating and doing only the things that someone tells them are safe?
Read Jon’s article and if so moved send a few dollars to the West Wind Acres funding request. Honestly, if I could have been at the courthouse today I would have. Thousands of others should have been too. There are things that should just be left alone – good people doing good things is one of them.
4 thoughts on “This Ain’t Right”
I don’t know all the facts, Jo. I read the blog post and followed the links. It sounds like pure harassment to me. I board my mare at a barn nearby and people who know nothing of horses drive by and call in reports like, “Why do those horses have masks on?” in the summer but think they are qualified to judge whether they need blankets in the winter.
Good care involves understanding how the animal adapts to the weather and not taxing that adaption process. I am blessed to have someone who understands that where I board.
It is a hard time to be a farmer.
I totally agree with you. Why? Because I’ve lived on a small family farm the majority of my life. I’ve also owned horses who stood out in the pasture instead of in the barn, back to the wind, with icicles on their face. There were cows who laid out in the rain when they could have sought shelter. Tomorrow morning I will go out at 6 a.m. and do chores in temperatures that freeze water. I will refill the water buckets and waterers and if it stays cold, I’ll go back out midday and do it again. Could they freeze in between? Of course. As long as farm animals are fed and watered regularly, they adjust to the winter or summer temperatures. Maybe these nosy neighbors should put their smart phones down, stop worrying about what is trending or going viral, and visit a farmer to learn how animals are kept and how ‘real’ food is grown and produced on a farm. But, that won’t happen because they couldn’t take the time to because it would take time away from their posting, liking, uploading photos of what they had for lunch, sharing jokes, taking selfies, tweeting, and texting. What these people know about farming was probably learned on Facebook or Twitter and now this poor guy has to defend himself in court. It makes you embarrassed to be a member of this society.
Where I am in Florida, people get all upset over the hoods you put over horses’ faces to keep the flies from laying eggs in their eyes and blinding them – they look hot and uncomfortable! I’d be more impressed if these do-gooders were going after the factory farmers where where the hogs are packed in pens so small they can hardly move, standing over pits of offal and debris that drain into huge ponds behind these foot-ball field sized barns. When these sewage lakes get ready to overflow, the contractors – they’re not really farmers any more – spray the raw pig stuff through sprinklers. Officially it goes over fields, but it also hits neighboring homes. You can google it; Smithfield contractors in North Carolina. Adds a whole new dimension to your morning bacon.
We in both South Dakota and our neighbors in North Dakota have been trying to keep ahead of these issues. People who question the way animals are raised when it is not blatant abuse, which does happen in a few sad instances, are uneducated about farming and ranching. In some cases it also seems to be a matter of not just interference, but wanting control of something that is not their business.