My mind has been heavy lately thinking about the Colorado governor declaring a meat free day. It seems like Ranchers and Farmers are attacked more consistently as time goes on with things like “Beyond Meat” hits the market and people are further and further removed from where their food comes from. I also think that we take this attack very personally because we are in this profession truly for the love of the animals, land and tradition that is associated with it.
Recently on my Ranch Wives group a lady posted a picture of a steer that she had roped and tied down by herself. The picture was in the snow and showed the steer tied down waiting to be doctored for foot rot and her horse in the background working the rope. When I saw the picture I only saw a lady that had done something very cool and I was very in awe of her talent. Someone else saw it as animal abuse. Now, the picture was in a Ranch Wives group and she was asking a question about what to cook when you don’t have much time. I am sure that like me she just assumed that everyone in the group would just think that since she had it tied down it was obviously getting doctored so she didn’t put that part in. In reaction to the one person getting offended the whole page erupted in people posting their working pictures, or roping and then it just turned into whatever they thought might offend people and honestly some of the pictures that people posted made me wince.
I think that it’s hard when we are so close to what we do everyday to just over look the parts that might be obvious to us but not to someone that lives in the city and doesn’t even have a cat. I think that if we want to be respected we need to tell our story and sometimes a picture is not worth 1,000 words. I think that we need to teach the public about how much we love our animals. We can do this by explaining all of the blood, sweat and tears and that go into looking after these animals that can’t tell you what is wrong and don’t understand that you are trying to help them. We need to show the long hours and being out when the conditions are less then ideal. We also need to explain why we do the things that we do. We need to explain that we rope and tie down cows and calves in some situations because it is less stress on them to get it done fast and when they get to stay with their friends then driving them a long way to run them in a chute. We need to explain that we doctor our animals and vaccinate them so that they don’t live a life of sickness and suffering. We can also explain that we practice so that we can teach our young horses and keep our main mounts in tip top shape so when the need arises we can be ready to get the job done in as smooth as possible manner. It’s our job to inform the public that although we are raising a product for human consumption, we give that animal the best possible life that we can from the time of it’s conception to the time of death.
I believe that we need to put or best foot forward and show the public who we really are. I think that means that we are careful of what we post anywhere. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t post pictures when we are doctoring ,working cows, or pulling calves I actually think we should but we need to do so in a tactful way that also explains what we are doing and why we are doing it. I think that also means that we post even the not so good stuff, like when we spend all night up with a calf that doesn’t have much of a chance of living but we do it anyways and then the sad fact when they don’t make it. I think a lot of us don’t want to show that part because we are worried that makes us look like failures or weak when instead it makes us human.
I know that this is a hard subject because their is a lot of pride that we take in raising our animals and because it’s something that many have been doing their whole life so it’s hard for them to look at it from the other side. Just like me when I saw the picture and my mind just knew she was doctoring the steer and went straight to thinking about how cool of a job she did, instead of someone that doesn’t know anything about it what was happening would be confused about the steer being tied up.
So, lets be AGvocates. Let’s share those pictures with pride but lets also add an explanation to it that someone that has never seen a live cow, sheep, goat or pig can understand what you are doing and be proud that the people that are feeding us today are such compassionate, hardworking, talented people.
Here are some pictures of my husband and I doctoring cattle.