Once you get past the obvious: animals need food, water and shelter, good animal care becomes very subjective, even political. We have recently had to deal with this issue at Cota Farms. Even though most people have a reasonable view of animal welfare, it is always the most vocal, extreme groups that get the attention, make the evening news, albeit they are small in number. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it depends on the motivations of these groups, but sometimes they can be deceptive. For example, a group advocating better care for farm animals may have an ultimate objective of eradicating meat production by way of economic burden.
Animal care, eating meat, the use of fur, has all been the object of emotional debate recently. That is of course because many here in American and other places have so much wealth that they have the time and energy to devote to philosophy. Before the industrial revolution, when we still had a mostly agrarian society, these ideas made little sense. Today, these ideas still make little since unless you are part of a culture that has been removed from the source of its food.
I did not grow up on a farm, nor had any opportunity to see one, much less have any understanding of the link between the grocery store and the land. What’s more, there seemed to be a system in placed that purposely kept us ignorant of what was involve with food production. I now understand why: it has to do with exploitation of farm labor and the things that went on inside a slaughter house. Sure there was the occasional book or movie about these abuses, but that was entertainment and as long as you were part of the group that benefited from what was going on, then all the nastiness was quickly forgotten and you could concentrate on the next item to be purchased.
There are a small group of us neo-small farmers who come to agriculture and animal husbandry from a different route. We don’t view animals as just creatures that have no other purpose than to fill up space until we come along, and yet, we do appreciate that rack of barbecue ribs. We think that no matter how talented, a sports star who tortures dogs has no place in our world, while there is nothing wrong with feeding our children hot dogs at the ball park.
I don’t write about animal care for a living, but write about animal care when I am not busy caring for animals for a living. My thoughts are not biased by corporate support or tempered by a vegan diet. I am the real deal, come visit me, make your way past the variety of animal poop that decorates our yard, pet my favorite goose, kiss an adorable lamb, and follow me to where I butcher the holiday turkeys that our customers tell us are excellent.