Tuesday, June 19, 2012

On Putting the Steer Down

I need to write about this now, both because the kids are playing at the neighbors and I have my first moment since Coyote's summer vacation began (okay, but first I took a shower.  I have my priorities. The boy is harder to watch now than when he was an infant.  He's got this dangerous obsession with the cans of spray paint in the garage.)

And also, the whole ordeal is beginning to fade, like it was some irrelevant frijoles-and-jalepenos induced nightmare. It seems possible now that I might forget it altogether. My brain has this wonderful way of doing that, pretending it was all just a dream and tucking it away in a poorly lit, neglected corner. But I don't want to forget.  It meant something to me.

It began with a phone call, as most tragedies have since Alexander Graham Bell invented the phone.  A couple hours after we bought the Prius, we were settling in for a Friday night movie.  I needed relaxation.  It'd been an intense couple of weeks and I could barely keep my eyes open even for Flicka. But I made the mistake of picking up the phone when it rang.  It was our neighbor, Beignet's new owners by less than a week, not long enough for him to NOT be mine.  He'd slipped two halters and jumped the fence.  They wondered if he might come if I came and called him, if I might help herd him back in.

I wanted to say no, to say "he's your problem now."  But I remembered how they helped us castrate him last year.  And other neighbors have helped several times with my own escaped cows.  Nope, this wasn't optional. But the next time I sell a cow, it goes to a stranger.

The kids were left screen-side.  Huck grabbed a bucket of grain.  And down the lane, all of 1/4 of a mile, we trotted.

Just as I wondered on to their property, Beignet dashed past Maria, Sergei and another neighbor.  And here he was, running, panting, refusing.  The open gate was wide and he wouldn't go in.  He never had.

He had this sense, that if you wanted him to go somewhere, he wouldn't (see previous post from two weeks ago!)  Many winter nights, I left him out in the cold because I could not get him in to the barn, the warm barn full of hay and grain and light.  He'd never been like Hendrika, a cow who would do anything, ANYTHING, for grain!  Wet tee-shirt contest, bull-riding, wear a frozen maxi-pad on her head and run around the house three times screaming "I am Married to a Martian!" (that's a middle-school slumber-party dare, FYI), anything for grain.  But Beignet, sure he wanted grain, but not bad enough to do ANYTHING for it. He'd gotten used to not having it.  Hendrika would ram him any time he came near the grain buckets.  I was worried about how scrawny he was and started feeding him separately from her, so that he could get something in the few minutes he had while she charged from pile to pile, goal-keeping at both goals.  He was bull-ied.  The butt of her every joke.  And yet, when he wasn't around her, you'd have never known him to be a victim.  He seemed to recover just fine.

I hadn't eaten dinner yet.  I was tired.  And I took the "fullback" position in this soccer-like game. Anytime he broke through the first line of defense, I rounded him up, running around the perimeter of five acres for over 30 minutes. At first, we were trying to herd him back in, lasso's tossing, holding branches to extend the reach and intimidation of our arms. And then we went from offense to defense, to simply trying to keep him out of the 200 acre wheat field that bordered their property, or to keep him off the road. 

It wasn't even as easy as running. They had started building a green house, ditch, and partial foundation and all, but then changed their minds, and the grass and weeds grew up around it and so you'd be running and running and suddenly have to leap a barely visible knee-breaker.  And they had lots of other "stuff" all over, beams, windows, wood stoves, planks, et al, hidden by long grasses and tumbleweeds.  Plus there was a huge berm, five feet tall or so, that Beignet could take in one leap, but we humans could not.  It was like a high-stakes, high-speed soccer obstacle course.

It was suggested that he'd go easily to our house.  But I nixed the idea that he was going to go easily anywhere.  He wouldn't trot back to our place, to his herd, especially if he felt the slightest hint that that's where we wanted him.  And there would be four other properties to access between the two places.  No, I said, I don't even want to try it, the risk is too great.

I wasn't surprised to see the guns. I knew that's what had to be done. I suggested it myself.  We were all tired and it seemed clear that although he was huffing and puffing and tired himself, he'd outlast our legs all night if he needed to.  He was stubborn, and his chest heaved proudly.

And they shot him.  I couldn't look away.  His head and body jolted back, in surprise at the ferocious BANG! and at the impact.  The bullet went right between the eyes, which turns out is NOT where cows need to get shot, my dad informs me now.  But Beignet started running.  Blood poured from his nose and mouth. And he ran.  And we blocked him, quietly as we could. He stood and breathed and poured blood.

The earth spun.  The ground came up to greet me.

He wouldn't die.  Ten minutes.  Fifteen.  There was no getting out of this alive.  It was already over for him, but he wouldn't let it go.

They pulled out another gun, a sawed-off something, but it jammed. It would have blown his whole head off.

They shot his legs out from under him with the regular old rifle, and he finally went down.  We were both on the ground now.

Sergei slit his throat open.

And he still wouldn't die.

Blood pouring from a huge open diamond in his neck.  And he lived five, ten minutes more, I don't know.  I couldn't see. I had to leave before it was final.

Maria had gone into the goat shed for this part.  But I wanted to see what I had been protected from my whole life, with our steers and freezers full of beef.. Some Saturday mornings, my mother would come in to my room, but instead of waking me she would pull down all my shades and forbid me to leave the room.  I would have put up quite a fuss too, if I'd seen.  I don't fault her for doing it, but I felt that now it was time to see what this was all about, but this was not best-case scenario.

They did their best, respectfully, and it had to be done. It was inevitable since the day he was born.

Maria said I should have gone home sooner.  I was crying, hard, when she found me in the grass.  She hugged me for a while and then I went home.  They had a long night of hard work before them.  She said, "Don't cry."  And I know, I know these are farm animals, that their purpose is for us, that they would not even exist, would not have ever existed if not for human need.  But it's important to me to feel what this all is, what this all means, what we really are: beasts of the earth with tools.  I let it all come, out and through me.  I felt like the universe herself was passing through my chest, crying for all the sorrow living brings. The irony of life, her marvelous creation, is the death that comes with it.

At home, the kids were amazing.  Blue, so inspired by Flicka, had turned the movie off, donned boots and jeans and was out working on Huck's rental work truck.

Coyote speared the ground with a wooden cross he'd picked up somewhere and laid some Butter and eggs toadflax (a flowery weed) by it.  Then we watched the rest of the sunset with his arm around my shoulders.

Huck made cheese and crackers.  And I know all about that cheese.  Maybe you think it's made with just milk, but it's made with blood too.  Even cheese has blood on it's hands.  And the honey we traded with the neighbors, I now call it blood-honey.

The poem that follows was meant to end with bitter irony, a chastisement for our needs, our killings, but instead, I found an odd peace and acceptance for our place.  This isn't a poetry blog, I know.  And I claim no expertise on poetry, except that I write one almost everyday, but I only share them with Huck, the long-suffering, award-winning husband.

ON PUTTING THE STEER DOWN

The sun peered at us
through thunder heads
a sidelong glance from the closest
thing to eternity

Running in tumbleweeds
wild lettuce feral alfalfa
full of sun and juice

There are six long shadows,
beasts in a meadow
panting running chasing
five against one with four legs
all of us dust, dancing in eternity

You should have seen my boy,
hide like dusk and moonrise,
the strongest of us all,
we could never recapture
the beauty.

When the man cradled the rifle
finally at his shoulder,
I could not see anything
but

his head snapped,
and a red light poured out his nose.
The strongest beast
stubborn for life, ran.
We shot his legs from under him.

We laid down in salsify,
the energy of the
sun transformed
into grass
into my steer
into me
and let go
for the darkness
to wrap warm hands around my head
and to again bring breath to us
where the sun
flows from the wounds in our throats.

His body, jerking heaving
steam pouring up
into the long shade
and gold air
I breath him in.

#

coyote's long war cry into the night
quail screams
gofer and owl
mouse and my house cat is fat with the wild

And I am another beast of this turning earth too,
devouring sunlight
rise     breath     flow     set
spin into light
into night
into light
into night





Monday, June 11, 2012

The Prius Puzzle: a case of mistaken identity

I have driven through trailer parks marveling at all the nice-ish cars parked in the driveways.  I mean, who got their priorities screwed on backwards at the factory?  Buy a real house, a real investment, you nimwits!  But no, instead you all spend money on shiny cars. Be like us! I wanted to tell the trailer-park people - Buy a house and drive your grandmother's Oldsmobile!  (P.S. I cried when they towed it off!  I cried?!) We bought our first house in Pullman, 1000 square feet and a postage stamp yard for $88,000, 20% down (thanks to a "lucky" car accident (that messed me up) partial payout that came in days before we closed and a family loan), and we were paying $550 per month, total. Cheaper than renting a place with a yard!  So I was a little snide about the trailer park down the road, filled with cars way newer than our Olds.  Ignorant Idiot Trailer Parkers, get what you deserve.  Okay, I probably wasn't that harsh, but a little of that was inside me.

Ah, but I was the ignorant one.  I'd never needed a car loan, so I didn't know a thing about why they had the cars they did.  And now I know.  I was the idiot.  But it turns out I'm not alone!  A LOT of people are ignorant.  This is why we are fielding so many shocked questions about our newish Prius.

OMG Idaho plates!  Did we get the wrong car?
Prius! Sarajoy! Aren't you always kvetching about money and your lack thereof?  Aren't you always worried, nail-biting it, every month a question mark?  Isn't your financial theme song "Living on a Prayer"? For Pete's Sake you don't even have a WORKING oven!  Where are your priorities?  What you SHOULD do is buy another rag-bin car, another junker because I know (somehow with my powerful judgmental thoughts) that's what you can afford and that's what you deserve. Why would you do such a foolish and ignorant thing as to get a Prius, the car of elitists, latte drinkers and the wealthy educated elite liberals and the elitist elites?

Oh, criminy, do I really have to deal with these questions?!  Apparently, yes.  So deal with them I will, thoroughly. I'm getting a little defensive now, so I might as well have it all out once and for all.

Frankly, we are educated, I like lattes and we are liberals (turns out I knew, by name, AT LEAST half the people in Spokane's Pride Parade on Saturday! Including the Grand Marshall, the Other Grand Marshall, the entire corporate Sponsor or Marshall or what-evs (our church), half the Planned Parenthood marchers AND the politician entourages AND Blue and Huck who were marching in support of our gay friends (Coyote didn't feel like marching, so we watched, someone has to watch or it's not a parade, right?)- our church is at least 70% lesbian, I believe.).  Anyway, everything but the wealthy part is there.

Apparently the Prius has some cache.  Who knew?  Common Assumptions made by many liberals themselves: we got it just to make a statement, it's new, it's expensive, it's financially irresponsible, and we should have/could have purchased a junker.

So let's deal with this all bit by bit.  First:  I make myself talk about money and about not having it sometimes for a reason. I'm not complaining, whining, begging for donations or anything else our society assumes about people who worry aloud about money (and sometimes that is true of money kvetchers and sometimes the people who whine the loudest have WAY more than the people who are just trying to grin and bare it).  Talking about money is a conscious choice for me. I hate the way our society makes it a big old TABOO and I think this taboo is why so many family finances collapsed during these last few years.  Everyone was fronting, pretending to have more than they did, buying things they couldn't afford, just to look good, to fit in, expensive cars, houses way beyond the price range of a sensible loan, crazy loans that people tried to talk us in to too and I was all: And then what happens in five years? The crap-ola hits the fan-oli!  We felt like we were the only ones who were broke, a student-family on food stamps (but yes, buying a house too!) with the g-ma car, while all our friends maxed out credit card after credit card and bought brand new cars.  It was lonely.

But now, I am happy and comfortable, everyone is owning up to spending limits.  Now, lunch with friends might turn in to a walk because someone admits to not being able to afford a meal out that week..  That wasn't happening a few years ago.  So that is why I talk about money, I want to be honest.  And it only isolates us all to pretend we have more than we do.

I also want to say that we are broke a lot of the time because we did buy a house outside our price range. It was a decision that was fabulous and made perfect sense in every way but financial.  I do not regret it. And I take responsibility for it, but I am not going to pretend it's a barrel of monkeys.  It is difficult some times.  And that is just how it is.  I say this precisely because I am not in denial about it and I don't need to you "open my eyes" to the reality.  I'm very familiar with it, thank you.

You may think, as some have suggested, that we're just bad at managing money.  Au contraire.  We may not have a lot, but every penny is managed to the hilt.  I should be appointed to run the entire country's finances based on my expertise and my understanding of a dollar.  And my credit score is close awesome, and I only bring that up to give you an token of objective analysis that I can point to as evidence that I'm not suffering delusions of money management grandeur and that our heads are not up our financial assets.  Not that there have never been snafus or miscommunications between Huck and I resulting in an over draft once or twice!

So, here's the situation I now understand that the trailer park people already knew. (DISCLOSURE: I AM trailer park people.  My father used to manage a trailer park. I grew up in a double-wide in Marietta, WA until I was six or so .  And I lived in one in Glenallen, Alaska as an independent 18 year-old "adult": a tiny single-wide, half-length, rated for Malibu, rusty, pink trailer with no phone (I didn't have car either but hitch-hiked all over).  The pillows froze to the wall every night and you couldn't flush until the blow-driers (which were duct-taped into place on the pipes) had run for at least half an hour in the morning. So there. I'm not as elitist as you think!)

Step one: Do not have enough cash on hand to buy a running clunker when your old one breaks down.

There's a possibility that in the near future it will be important for both of us to have two reliable cars we feel okay about kids riding in, so clunker wasn't going to work, even if we did have $2000 somewhere.

Step two: Go to credit union and get pre-approved for a loan.  The credit union has very clearly defined parameters for what they will finance and what they won't: title, mileage, etc.

I cried and the sky cried with me
Step Three: Park your butt on Craigslist for almost an entire week.  Discover that most of the cars don't fall within your credit union's parameters (which are more generous than a standard bank's) and so you are forced into buying something shiny and nice-looking.

So, as you can see, even buying a clunker requires a certain amount of liquid capitol that we just didn't have which brings us to the surprising revelation that you kind of have to have a lot of cash to buy a clunker.  So we tried on a bunch of cars and test drove ourselves insane.  It's not like comparing apples to apples or even oranges. It was like comparing kumquats to cheese wizz because each car is a different year, a different make, gets different mpg, and depending on miles will have a different interest rate.  We had spread sheets covering the kitchen table and the living room floor.  (When I say "we"  what I mean is that Huck went to work in the car and I stayed home and over-analyzed the hell out of every available vehicle, through Consumer Reports and internet sites and loan calculators and all our spread sheets.)  And just on the off chance, I ran a car through this system, a car that I've envied since they came on the market - the earnest, goody-two-shoes Prius.  And this is the surprising thing I found: a used Prius is more than a used Corolla which is more than a used Pontiac (okay that's not so surprising!).  But comparing their gas mileage, the Prius turns out having an equal to or lower out-of-pocket monthly expense than any lower priced car that would satisfy the bank's demands.  A Prius, with conservative estimates, will save us $70 per month.  Given that I drive 20k miles a year, twice as much as those estimates are based on, it will probably save us more.  This brings the monthly out-of-pocket for an '05 Prius into the "under $100 range" and NO other car meeting the Credit Union's criteria could do that.  Maybe, maybe within $10, but then I'd have an '05 Pontiac with 140,000 miles on it.  So put that in your elitist pipe and smoke it, suckers!  Maybe that's a little too in-depth a financial analysis for this blog, but hey, if I didn't tell you, you would have made assumptions just like I used to, just like everyone else has.


So, after test driving a few and trying to negotiate a price, I finally found one in Pullman that was worth the drive and the price and boy is she a pretty thing.  My new Prius is silver with a dark gray and wine interior.  It is in the best condition and was the cheapest price of any that we looked at.  But yes, we did have to drive to Pullman, kids and all, 1 1/2 times (dear Pullman friends, I wanted to call you up, but these trips were kind of really late at night). And now it's all done and she belongs to the credit union, but she's parked in my drive way.

But the other thing the "bank" made us do is to get an emissions test.  The emissions-tester-ladies were all laughing when I drove in.  "What the hell are you doing here?!  By law, a Prius doesn't have to be tested!  We don't even know HOW to test a Prius!"  Listen ladies, I said, my bank is making me do this.  And after conferencing for forever, they finally figured it out.

And just in case I was under the delusion that owning a Prius would save the planet and be all good for all god's little critters, fate needed to show me otherwise.  I ran over a squirrel with it this morning.  I've never hit an animal ever, (except for once this cat jumped out of a bush and hit the side of my car.)  But I didn't completely run over the squirrel. I ran over the wrong half. It would have been better if I'd hit its head and killed it instantly.  But no, I just ran over its hind legs and watched in the rear-view mirror as it army-crawled into the ditch.  This was just the end of the bloody, gory, animal deaths-gone-wrong weekend we've had - and later, I promise, when I feel a little stronger, I'll tell you the worst story ever about putting down a cow.  But for now, lets just leave it with the squirrel and my non-elitists Prius.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Oh the places you'll go! And the things you will tow!

A V6 and a four-body truck (five if you cut them up right)
I am clearly not in compliance with the unstated bi-laws of blogging here.  It's been, what five weeks? six?  I have a fiduciary duty to provide you with more entertainment on a more regular basis than that, correct?  Flog me if you must.  But I've been working hard, full steam ahead on another dead-lined project, the outcome of which we will not know for another agonizing five weeks.  This is the time during which most artists begin, or increase their dosages of valium et al.  That is because the moment between when you give the world a creative effort and you receive a response about that creative effort are excruciating, filled with self doubt, re-tracing steps and finding the flaws and ways you could have improved everything.  Ah, yes, but there's a wine sale at Fred Meyers!  (Actually, alcohol is a very bad way to manage emotions, as two million AA members can attest.  And although alcoholism can run in my genes, I personally have an aversion to any extreme behavior, tea-totaling or excess.  Except when creative endeavors are concerned, then I will not pick up the phone and my children will run out of clean underwear and my garden will be overrun with weeds by the time I'm done, at which point it will become very cold and will rain for two weeks and I will blog in JUNE! with a heater on my feet, a blanket around my shoulders and beanie on my head.  I missed all the sunny weather staying indoors to work and now when and who will plant my pumpkins?)

nostalgic dreadlock shot plus chunky baby Coyote
So. It's been a very tow-y couple of days around here.  Friday, high noon, Huck's car, the Oldsmobile, finally died and vultures did not even bother to circle because there's nothing left on these bones.  We purchased this white '94 that looked like an '84 (but got 25mpg!) from my grandmother 9 years ago, for trade-in value: $1800.  Other than oil changes, tire repairs, duct tape, and a single starter, we never put any money into it.  And really, we hadn't given her an oil change for years either as she kind of had her own self-changing method. The transmission started to go years ago and after a long, courageous battle, it succumbed on Friday and Huck was towed 60 miles home, an event for which we have been prepared with deluxe AAA for several years now.  Today, the undertaker will come and remove the corpse, and bring her to that giant car graveyard by 1-90 and there she will donate her organs so that other cars might live.  Meanwhile, Huck has our very awesome CR-V for work and here I sit.

She held her own against larger trucks
Huck felt pride in using something all the way up, juxtaposing himself with our culture's obsession with possessions and the latest and greatest.  But recently, I couldn't handle it.  It was a humiliating little car.  There's pride in stewardship (if you can call our recent treatment of her that) and car husbandry and then there's the car version of a rag bin. 






And so Friday afternoon we got pre-approved for our first EVER car loan: Welcome to America, baby!  And have been shopping ever since.  Craigslist, FYI, is full of garbage people call cars, scammers, and rebuilt titles.  There have only been a few actual cars, with real titles.  But the stickers on the 15% of real cars have been about 2k over what I think they're worth and have not been exciting, or interesting.  For example, the car we might be buying tomorrow is an '05 Corolla with close to 100,000 miles on it and HAND CRANK WINDOWS and no automatic locks.  But, I guess we're used to driving around in a '94 that looked like an '84, might as well be comfy in a '05 that looks like a '95 (but even our '95 had automatic windows!)  I would like to be excited about buying a car, a big purchase for which we will pay for the next 5-6 years every single month money that we don't know where it will come from.  But it looks like, at best, I am just looking for a reliable work horse that won't make me cry.
many trips across the state

The other thing we towed this week was a bovine-y.  Yes, we towed Beignet.  We'd promised him to the neighbors in a trade that, amazingly, was bad for ALL of us.  I fed him $300 all winter to fatten him up.  Being a miniature and diary breed, he didn't fatten.  And I got all attached to his fabulous personality.  The neighbors gave us 14 gallons of honey (for our 7 year old Pooh-Bear and Huck's cider siezers) for a tiny steer.  I had been clear since the beginning of this ill-fated trade that Beignet was a miniature and that he'd be killed on their property, not ours, so no punches were pulled, but we all feel like we got a bad deal.. 

And so on Saturday morning, a list of car owners waiting for us and my neighbors preparing to host a baby-shower, we tried to transport him away from our house, from his family unit, from the new baby (did I tell you Hendrika had her first boy?  Yoda is the tiniest cow we've ever had: not even going to try to trade him but I'm crying already about the day he has to go) who Beignet thought was his, down 1/4 mile to their place, where they plan to make an attempt to fatten him up over the next month (if he stays put in their non-electric field). 

He'd been such a great guy, that I assumed he'd just follow us down the road, no problems.  But we soon realized that sweet though he may be, he's not compliant.  After an extended wrestling match, that had me rolling around the floor of his stall, I finally slipped the halter over his head and then he ripped my arm off and mailed it to a major political figure. I'm exaggerating (slightly) but still, he wasn't going to go gently to that orange house.  So Sergei fetched his minivan and after several more hours of wrestling, we tied him to the back of the car. 

And then Sergei began to move, to drive the van AWAY.  And ALL the cows and horses in the neighborhood went CRAZY.  Moo-ing (or neighing as that case may be), bellowing, foaming at the mouth, running back and forth, trampling everything, as if to voice the question that was on the whole world's mind: what in the name of Govinda were we doing? Actually, towing cows behind minivans is a time-honored way of moving cattle going back several hundreds of years to the original birth of minivans, then known as covered wagons.  The cow is, ideally, supposed to pick up it's feet and trot behind.  It is a recommended method for halter-breaking and harness-breaking cattle from time immemorial, from the invention of the wheel and harness and halter and immemorial.  The Oregon Trail was one large minivan caravan with cows tied to the back.  And in most cases it works great, the bovine, feeling a gentle and yet powerful tug forward picks up his feet and moves, admits that he is powerless over his husbands, moves toward the higher power, seeking guidance and strength.  But Beignet... Beignet did not get the AA memo.  Instead of halter breaking the boy, we broke the road.  Beignet did not pick up his feet once.  He skied all the way.  Our tiny, private road now has four ruts all the way down it (except the part where we drove in the shallow ditch; there the ditch has four ruts).  His cloven hooves filled with asphalt. 
Reliable through five years of Pullman

And so Maria and I decided that some sort of stick to swat his behind was in order.  Conveniently, since I don't weed every square inch of our five acres, I found some long sticks of last year's mullen.  And so we were beating this boy's legs with large, black, spiky-looking (but soft as Charmin') sticks to try to induce a single step.  Note to world: stop fighting it and just move forward.  It's so much easier for your handlers when you take the necessary steps to your slaughter by yourself.

So here we were, beating one of my favorite cows who was biting off his own tongue, foaming at the mouth, locking his knees and occasionally falling down in front of the entire neighborhood who all came out to gawk like it was a parade of torture. The abusive part of this really was his own doing. If he had just picked up his feet! But/And THERE WAS NO WAY OUT.  We could not turn around.  We could not stop. We could not get him to step.  It was a nightmare.  Maria and I were in distress. Not only did we not have time for this, we felt trapped in this situation.  And so, to help ourselves, we began cracking jokes and laughing hysterically.  Which I'm sure did nothing to assuage the reservations of the neighborhood about what was going on.
Beignet lickng Yoda clean

To compound the distress, my cows stood at the corner of our property, watching the torture, and they cried.  I know they did. And for the next day, they moped around and sulked.  And now they are fine.  

But I had nightmares about it. 

But Beignet seems to be great and happy now.  I believe his tongue is okay.  I hope his feet don't hurt too much.

Yoda believed Beignet was his mother at first
But my desire to husband cattle is dented and bruised.  We have so few of them that they become more like pets and that makes the necessary business moves more painful.  It could really be true that cows work best as an economy of scale.  Both monetarily and emotionally. When you have even 50 cows, you are that much less attached to each one and their fate.  But is that better or worse?  Perhaps I simply feel uncomfortable with truths about what it means to live, that things must die, that you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet, and so I think it must be better to just not know the consequences of milk-production: that a cow must give birth every year to produce milk and that half of those calves are boys and that so long as dairy and meat cattle are such separate breeds then the dairy calf boy will be meatless and bony and must still be slaughtered, but for no useful purpose. It's easier for all of us to avoid those facts, let someone else deal with them.  But then we end up with inhumane farming practices which insist that employees become calloused and shut down that part of themselves that would have cared, as they deal with animals like they're resources, tools, just a pile of work.  Ah, survival, such a tricky, heartbreaking, and exhilarating privilege.

Please enjoy the photos as we say farewell to two pillars of the community here on Lucky Farm.

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