The Dark Side of Farming
Today's post is hard to write but even harder to live. I have always been an animal lover. Some animals more than others but I don't typically shy away from the opportunity to hug or hold any animal I can. Now I might be terrified while having a giant snake draped around my neck but I will still do it. I have had some middle terrifying interactions with squirrels, birds, bats, and a few other animals. I don't necessarily blame the animal, because likely they are acting out of fear because they just flew through an open door into our home or fell off a branch only to land on my head! Yes, a squirrel did fall on my head which lead to an irrational fear for quite some time, but that's a story for another day.
Then there are times when an animal acts out causing harm. This is when hard decisions have to made. I am all for giving second chances and trying to work with an animal to correct behavior, but that doesn't always work. In farming when an animal acts out you have to determine if you are willing to risk more harm being done. This week we were faced with a tough decision. Pete, one of our roosters, decided to take on Snowy, our other rooster. Snowy was a bloody mess and because chickens have a natural instinct to peck at anything red... you can imagine the girls response. We promptly separated Snowy and brought him inside to recover. He spent about 3 days in the house with us, which was an adventure all on its own.
As the week progressed I let Snowy stay outside full-time and brought Pete inside. We really hoped that he would behave if we gave him another chance. Thursday morning before work I brought Pete outside to see how he would interact with the flock. As soon as I put him down he went straight for Snowy. I caught Pete mid-air and moved Snowy to a safe location. I didn't have a great hold on Pete so I put him down and he proceeded to attack Truffle and Bellatrix. That was the last straw.
Pete sealed his fate when he attacked my girls. I really do not enjoy this side of farming. My heart has been aching all week knowing that we may have to say goodbye to Pete. This isn't the first time we have been faced with a tough decision on the farm, won't be the last either. It doesn't get any easier. Every night we pray for our animals. We pray that we will do our best to protect them from harm and that we will be good caretakers. Losing one this way just plain stinks.
In case you are wondering how I will handle it when the time comes to process our cattle or pigs... honestly I probably won't handle it well. I am an emotional being but we started this farm with the goal of growing our own food and raising our own meat. This comes with hard decisions and emotional times. Each animals on our farm has a purpose and a job. Our job is to raise happy, healthy, and well loved animals. We provide for them and they provide for us.