Tonight I am in a sad mood. I have Iron & Wine’s “An Angry Blade” playing at the moment, as tears are wandering through my eyes with only Kitty to hold me tight. Today was a good day, but tomorrow will be sad, probably one of the saddest days that I will ever experience. We all go through problems and issues in life, and when we come out on the other end, it usually makes us stronger.
I have been trying to think of the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I have seen a lot of awful videos and heard a lot of terrible screams, but I cannot think of anything that I have seen with my two eyes that has really traumatized me. I’ve never watched someone kill an animal before, I’ve never watched someone beat or brutalize one, not in person at least. I’ve seen animals get hit, but those were accidents, as sad as they were, they were cases of beings being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, on both ends. But tomorrow, I am going to see something that I never wanted to see in person.
Tomorrow we are going to a stockyard, a livestock sale. Just the word alone makes me cringe, live…stock. This simply put, translates to living things being sold as stock. Things for money. But they aren’t just things, they are beings. Beings who have just as every right and want to live as we humans do. But it’s not just the sale that hurts to think about, it is something much deeper than that. What we are going to see tomorrow are animals being sold for profit, to be taken to slaughter, many within 24 hours, and to be consumed.
I was just looking at my blog entry that I posted a few days ago with the male calves. They are so incredibly beautiful. Looking at them just makes me smile, it warms my heart, just as the deepest of love that I have ever felt, and then I cry. I cry because I think how wonderful these creatures are, so full of life. They want to live. They have each been through unspeakable horrors, but found light here at Farm Sanctuary. Those calves that I am going to see tomorrow, they aren’t going to be so lucky.
What we will see tomorrow are many many calves who are but a few days old. They have been ripped from their mother’s because they are of no use to the dairy industry. They will be young male calves. Young males serve no purpose to the dairy industry, with the exception of a few who are raised for sperm production. These young boys are going to be scared and confused as they will be alone and in a scary environment that screams fear and terror. I cannot exaggerate this experience, as I have seen many videos and heard of other’s experiences. There is no way around the fact that these babies simply put, have been taken from their mothers, and are going to be forced to move around, be poked and prodded at, then ultimately pushed into a vechicle and for most, taken to slaughter later in the day.
How do I know they will be slaughtered that day? The newborns are sold for quick cash, they are known as bob veal. It’s not as highly prized as regular veal, where the calves are kept in extreme confinement and fed a poor diet to encourage anemia, which creates the pale “desired” coloring. Bob veal is from newborn aged calves. It just breaks my heart to know that all of these calves are going to be there, be scared, and will later lose their lives. All for what? So that us humans can drink a product that is not only, not intended for our bodies, but also bad for our health, the environment, and the lives involved in it’s production? Simply put, if your consume any dairy products, you are supporting veal production. There is just no way around this. This isn’t the worst of the worst, it’s just the truth.
I can’t help but think that when I look into these little calves’ eyes that I am going to cry. Not only because I will want to save them, but because I will think of the other wonderful calves here on the farm that have really touched my life. Tweed, Milbank, Orlando, Arnold, and Conrad have all shown me how excited they were about life and how much they wanted to play with me and have fun. They showed me what how much they wanted affection and to be loved, just as we humans want to be. They are a lucky few. They have names. They are beings. They deserve more in life than to be “stock” or “it(s)”. Each one has personality. But these calves at the stockyard tomorrow, they will never know this love or kindness from a human being.
On a whole other realm, I would never be able to watch someone kick a dog without going to stop it and help. It is in my nature to help those who are around me. Especially creatures who would otherwise be living a natural life if humans hadn’t used/abused/destroyed their homelands. Whenever I see a hurt bird on the road, I always take it to a wildlife rehabilitation center. When I see a turtle trying to cross a busy road, I always pull over to help it cross. Whenever I see a lost dog wandering the streets, I always stop to find it’s owner. It is in my nature to be compassionate and to do whatever it is possible to help those without a voice.
However, tomorrow, I will not be able to take these calves and run. That would be illegal and in the end, be rather counterproductive, just as purchasing them would also be funding this awful business. Instead, I will merely have to see them with my own eyes, watch people purchase them, and then I will leave. I will have left with doing nothing. I will not stop their pain. I will have to leave knowing that I did nothing. I will not help, I will just observe. I will try to numb the pain, but I suspect that it will not go away anytime soon.
To me, it is sort of like when someone watches a video of a cow being abused, then slaughtered, and that person still decides to eat a hamburger. There is a part of the human brain that just shuts off, it only sees what it wants to see. It is those horse-blinders that we all put up in certain situations that allows us to numb us from certain things. I don’t think I will be able to numb this experience tomorrow. For whatever reason, I can’t bring myself to “numb” myself of what/where/and how animals are raised for food production. I know what happens, and I have chosen not to ignore what goes on for the sake of a taste of something. With animals, I cannot turn this numbing condition on. Sometimes I say my heart is too big, but it is those big hearts that stopped to save Tweed, Milbank, Orlando, Conrad and Arnold.
It is only in my greatest of hopes to not force anything down people’s throats, but to give them a better understanding of the personality of farm animals and how they are raised for human consumption. The next time you drink a glass of milk, enjoy a pint of ice cream, or put a slice of cheese on your sandwich, think about those calves that will never get to enjoy life, to run, to play, and to breathe the crisp winter air…that is all.