Farm Wife Rambling: If You Have Livestock…


I woke up to the sound of a cow bellowing this morning. Our cows are pretty happy critters, so incessant bellowing is pretty significant.

It was probably 109, looking for her calf poor thing.

I attended a lecture on farming once where I remember the speaker saying that if you have livestock, you’ll have dead stock. No ifs, ands, or or buts.

Unfortunately, that’s true and 109’s calf was our first bovine casualty since – well the only one I can think of actually.

As best we can tell, the cows must have been laying down together, and when one of them got up, they must have swiped her in the head as they walked past not seeing her.

109 (that’s her ear tag #) is one of those good moms who doesn’t even like to let the most familiar humans get a good look at her calves. But freak accidents still happen.

What a waste of a nice heifer calf.

I guess that’s one of the drawbacks to such a small beef operation. The loss of one calf is a big deal. Not that we’re going to starve or anything because of it.

On the other end of the spectrum, Gabriel is taking Ellie, my parent’s old dairy cow, to the slaughter house today.

Yes, we’re killing a cow with a name. She’s a good cow too. I’m glad I’m not the one hauling her to her doom.

I know that slaughter houses have a bad reputation thanks to the efforts of various animal rights organizations, so let me assure you, this small slaughter house is very, very nice. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is the most humane way for Ellie to go.

Like I said, she’s an old milk cow, she’s been a good cow. Unfortunately she’s been running with a bull for going on two years now, and no calf in sight. Her productivity is at an end. Now it’s either grow old in a pasture that could be growing two calves instead of maintaining one retired cow, and watch her arthritis get worse until she can no longer get around, and her digestion grow more poor until she’s nothing but skin and bones. Or, take her to the butcher, where she’ll be humanely put down.

It may be a bit of a harsh reality this eating what for so long was essentially a family pet, but that’s farm life for you as it has been for thousands of years. Only recently have people come think that’s a horrible thing and I’m so glad to have the opportunity to raise my son without this farm/table disconnect.

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