We are new to farming, I have owned this fact and have embraced it. Until today. We are being faced with a difficult decision that I would prefer to not make. It has to do with my first, and favorite cow... "Big Mama".
Jim and I started our farm in 2004 and made the decision to get into cattle. We opened up our local paper the "Farm and Dairy" http://www.farmanddairy.com/ and found an add for replacement heifers. It was God's intervention that lead us to call this particular number. Through that number, we became acquainted with the farmer which would ultimately become a friend, mentor and Jim's boss. We purchased our first three heifers, and our love of cattle began.
Six years later.. much sooner then I anticipated being in this situation. About a month and a half ago "Big Mama" one of our original three became lame. We called our trusted vet immediately. He assessed her and could find nothing wrong with her. We trimmed up her hoof that seemed to be bothering her, and we rested her. We have kept a close eye on her, and have noticed much more restricted movement and weight loss. Her legs appear fine, to injury, no infection.. nothing.. just lame.
Now its the age old question, when do we remove her from the herd. The Bull is here now and will not be visiting her. She also did not catch last year. This complicates the decision that needs to be made. I think many people have been in my boots. A good cow, great disposition and emotionally connected. She is a leader in the herd, and now I think her time has come to leave the herd. It is a hard, hard decision. And that is where I am right now.. hard decision time.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
I feel that the delicate balance between meeting consumer expectations in animal agriculture while still protecting practical farming techniques is an issue that takes a great deal of due diligence. In a day and age where public perception is perceived as reality, it is often very easy to over compensate to appease the ever growing need for information that consumers require. I believe that having a positive and active role in education on the practices that animal agriculture uses in conjunction with scientific research has helped and will continue to help the maintenance of this delicate balance. However, I also feel that the extreme submissive and yielding approach to consumer outreach does more damage in the long run. I recently watched a couple of "test messages" from a representative of agriculture. The consumer ratings were the highest on the ones where he sounded incredibly apologetic, much like a kicked puppy wanting to have his ear scratched. To combat this attitude of surrender, I feel all sects of agriculture (animal,row crop and unconventional production) need to continue to train spokespersons, create positive media opportunities, and have a very active presence through social media. I do agree that some admission of past mistakes, like all humility, can go a long way. But this is such a fine line! So how do we do all of this? I think we are doing it through our tweets, face book posts, and you tube videos. But we need to add a little humor, wit and joy for people to actually want to view our messages. (That being said this post has absolutely not humor in it.. ironic? ) Any thoughts?