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Discussion Starter · #2,981 ·
COW PHOTOS

I've just had to send them off, and that's always a sad day, but here's photos of our three steers, including a close-up of the one who had the horn growing into his skin (one one had it very slightly, one not at all) - healed over nicely and with hair growing back (look for the pinkish spot where the horn was).
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Discussion Starter · #2,984 · (Edited)
Yeah, they were nice animals, both to look at and in temperament. It's therefore been a stressful week. As humans we have to replace the predators we've made extinct in natural ecosystems, whether that be to control population excesses of deer in Europe and America, kangaroos in Australia, etc, so that their populations don't destroy the ecosystems they depend on - and ditto with feral animals. (Pity we don't take note when it comes to controlling our own population excesses, which we could actually do with adequate family planning as a species, and the social security that's required to do that in the developing world. Because as a species we are doing the very thing that we're preventing other species from doing by hunting them - destroying ecosystems through our population excesses. I suppose humans feel entitled to destroy ecosystems, through the human-exceptionalism ethic of the West, as opposed to the First Nations, which actually view humans as a part of nature rather than the rightful lord of nature, and other species as our brothers and sisters, even though we're often at the receiving end of them in the food web, but it's still true. A pandemic is one of the ways nature can attempt to correct the imbalance before we destroy everything, but it's such a shame that we have brains and won't learn, as a species. It's so disappointing that as far as population and resources goes, humans as a species behave exactly like bacteria in a laboratory culture - which is to breed exponentially until the resouces are exhausted and then crash when it's all gone - as evidenced by a number of past civilisations already. But I digress.)

In an agricultural ecosystem, we're often replacing both predator and "mummy" and that's basically me, and those are interesting roles to juggle - to look after living beings and their quality of life, until you eat them, or allow other people to. In our agricultural ecosystem here on our farm, the emphasis is on sustainable agriculture and quality of life for the farm animals - we're not an industrial production unit; our animals all have room to roam and to properly explore, quasi-natural food sources (they all mostly subsist off pasture and tree fodder), supplementary feeding when and where necessary, good shelter and care and attention as required. In ten years we've lost one animal we were raising, out of approx. 40 cattle we've raised here - to a micronutrient deficiency most stock avoid by licking the supplied mineral blocks.

Looking at a herd of pastured cattle and at a herd of wild herbivores, one thing is the same: Most of the animals will die before they reach maturity, and only some will go on to reproduce. In wild populations, the rate of mortality of very young animals is higher than in captivity - this is when predators can catch them most easily. In wild populations, old age is the exception rather than the rule. Predation, disease, starvation and accidents will remove most animals before their prime. In an agricultural ecosystem, we're trying to reduce disease, starvation and accidents - and while we steward, we're also the predators. And while we kill many cattle at age 2-3, that's an extension of the life span many of them would have had in the wild.

I'm very serious about giving our cattle a decent life while they are with us, and as a result they become quite friendly with me. I was talking to the people who supply us with many of our weanling cattle to raise about exactly this when they were dropping off four dairy poddies to us on Saturday. They've got an old-fashioned family-owned small dairy farm, milking 150 cows, in an age where dairying and beef farming is becoming an increasingly industrialised, corporate game. They know their animals, and care for them. Since you have to take the young calves off the mothers to run a dairy farm, they care for them exceptionally well compared to other places I've seen - they're in little groups in runs with shelters in them, and Peter was telling me he often carries the really young calves back into their shelters in inclement weather until they learn to do that for themselves. They don't have their mothers, it's true, but they do grow up social, in creches, with human substitute carers, and at their farm they also get to roam in larger paddocks and eat grass part of the day.

I was talking to Peter's daughter Laura about how people say you should never let yourself get attached to farm animals, but how I ignore this because it makes a better quality of life for them to have a friendly human around, and decreases the stress they have encountering strangers when they go on transport and to the abattoir later on. She agreed with me and said it was always a wrench to cull out dairy cows you've milked for years and who you know well, and laughingly admitted she's got two "retired" dairy cows where she just couldn't bring herself to send them in. Her family, like ours, kills their own animals for the freezer as well, and she told me she's been to the Harvey abattoir to look at the process there, and says the actual dispatch is as humane as it is when we shoot old horses (she has horses too) or food animals on our farms - the difference is the transportation process. But, she could reassure me that the Harvey production line is done in such a way that no animal sees what happens in the kill box, or beyond. The kill box is a black box which they're in for under a minute and the stunning process is non-scary and instant, just like when we shoot animals on-farm (using good marksmen and sensible, low-stress handling).

I wish we could process all our animals on-farm, or at least that we had a local abattoir (animals travel 4 hours from our region to get to the main beef abattoirs; and because it's such a long way, it's uneconomical for us to get our own beef back so we can market it ourselves). But transporting a cow is no more stressful than teaching horses to transport - if anything less, because horses are more highly strung - and if I had to choose, for the death of my farm animals, between an abattoir and a natural predator, then I'd choose the abattoir. I have every sympathy for wolves, lions etc - they choose between starvation, and attacking lunch with their own faces and teeth - they didn't invent the system, and I'm quite glad I'm not having to hunt like that, with injury and starvation constantly in the background.

I still think, despite all of that, that nature is more beautiful than it is savage, and that life is generally worth having, even though it's pretty fleeting for many, including our own species. And I do what I can to be a good steward of our 50 hectares of wilderness, as well as our 12 hectares of pasture and the animals on it - to smooth the rough edges a bit too, where I can. At the end of the day, that's really all we can do - care for our own circle of influence as best as we can manage.
 

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That sounds like a very good system and I agree with the process. I eat meat and think it is good food. My sister has a small farm and handles all the death very well. I personally believe there is nothing wrong with a humane death for an animal.

That being said, I also treasure all the life I see and would not want to personally kill an animal unless it was suffering.

We had a pet fly. I stopped fishing, because I didn't like to be the one snuffing out a beautiful life. If my dog and I were starving on a raft in the ocean, I would not eat a friend. He could eat me if he wished. I could eat anyone I didn't know.

I've seen a lot of humans and animals die, so accept death. I just don't like to kill.
 

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I rather enjoyed your post SueC, as well as @gottatrot’s response. Although our scale is larger, I feel that we raise our animals in a similar fashion. We know our cows and calves, and the girls and I even have names for many of them. Lol. The ones without names are called by their number, but generally you know everyone. Sometimes I will see a certain kind of cow, black and longer faced, similar in the herd to many of the others, and her number means nothing to me, but those are few. I’m sure that either my husband or my dad could give me ten stories about that cow, but I couldn’t place her except to tell you the year she was born.

I believe we do our very best to care for the cattle in a way that gives them their best possible life for the time they are alive. I wonder if the length of life has all that much to do with it really, and I don’t have a big problem with death. That said, I don’t desire to go around killing anything I don’t plan on eating unless it is in the kindness of ending ones misery. I don’t care for killing predators unless it is necessary and they have broken my boundaries of not trying to kill one of my own, and I tend towards letting things be.

I wouldn’t kill my own dog either on the boat, but would have zero problem eating anything else that came in our path. Lol

What I really like was what Sue said at the end. That we do our best to care for our own circle of influence. It is hard sometimes to remember that we do not control the government or our neighbors or anyone else who doesn’t follow our desired program. Yet, if we all care for our circle of influence we are doing what we can do.
 

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I bookmarked this article a while back: Lion is left bloodied and battered after buffalo fights it off in hour-long battle. It is extremely gory, even by my marginal standards. From the Daily Mail, a British paper. The lion wasn't only left bloodied. He was hurt bad enough that he was finished off a few days later by hyenas.

I kept it because I sometimes encounter people who really think Disney nature flicks are real life. Or believe that somehow peace and harmony prevail if humans aren't there. I think we protected civilized people, who almost never kill our own food, need some reminders that life is indeed harsh. Predators struggle to stay alive. Very few wild lions live anything close to their maximum age. And in the Intermountain West, deer are usually limited in numbers by starvation during the winter.

I feel guilty killing a rattlesnake in our yard. I do it because I prefer killing the rattlesnake to seeing my dogs or grandchildren die, but I don't like it. Didn't bother me to kill the rooster we used to own, but he was a nasty animal even by chicken standards - and chickens aren't always nice to each other any more than horses are. The cattle at your place SueC have incredibly good lives compared to the large majority of animals. There is a movement AND a market for cattle that are treated at least a little bit more humanely than the lowest cost/pound model gives. I hope that market expands. I'd gladly pay more for my meat and eggs if the animals involved would be treated more like animals and less like mobile units of pre-packaged beef.

I liked Knave's comment above about doing what we can. We can't save the world from anything. But we can look for ways to make what is around us a little better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,988 ·
That sounds like a very good system and I agree with the process. I eat meat and think it is good food. My sister has a small farm and handles all the death very well. I personally believe there is nothing wrong with a humane death for an animal.

That being said, I also treasure all the life I see and would not want to personally kill an animal unless it was suffering.

We had a pet fly. I stopped fishing, because I didn't like to be the one snuffing out a beautiful life. If my dog and I were starving on a raft in the ocean, I would not eat a friend. He could eat me if he wished. I could eat anyone I didn't know.

I've seen a lot of humans and animals die, so accept death. I just don't like to kill.
I can really relate to this, and it made me laugh too, @gottatrot. The bit about how the dog can eat you but you won't eat it, I think I'd feel the same. 😁 Also "I could eat anyone I didn't know." 😂 I honestly think I could eat random dead human before I could eat horses or dogs I've had to put down (even though I'm sure the average human would taste repulsive - just ask sharks apparently, who rarely eat a whole human). And of course, when I have to put down a horse, if someone with a dog asked if they could take the meat, I'd totally let them take what they wanted from the open-burial site, but I wouldn't go look (and I don't anyway; I leave after we put the body out in our bushland and don't come back until three weeks minimum, when the body is at skeleton stage in summertime - fascinating as decomposition is, I've no desire to witness it in friends).

I don't like to kill and never did like it, but I have: Poultry for the table, small wildlife that needed putting down because they'd had accidents or were really ill, the occasional venomous snake when it gets too territorial about our garden. When I have to do that, I get all focused on being quick and humane - usually decapitation with a sharp implement. I don't have firearm skills and call in people who do for larger animals. I couldn't put down an animal friend of mine unless there was a situation where I was the only one who could and it was urgent, which thankfully hasn't happened, but I remember one time when I was growing up and my family were dilly-dallying about a mare with twisted bowel, where I said, "Give me the gun, I'll shoot her myself!" and I would have - she was suffering terribly, the worst suffering I've ever seen and it was clearly not going to get any better.

(It's sort of like surgeons don't usually operate on family members except in emergencies - it's because our bonds with others personally affect how we operate.)

And then there's rodents. I like them and think they're cute, but not in our house, and I can't have them hanging around and breeding up in the farm shed either, so I bait them in the shed and have snap-traps in the house, because occasionally one gets under the fly curtain of an open French door when I'm airing a room. When I've got a mouse just dead in a trap, I feel a regret and think about whether it would affect me the same way as a dying pet if I knew the animal well. Probably yes. But that's beside the point. I disagree with the people who have live traps in their houses and then let the mice go in the garden (poor neighbour) or, even worse, down by the beach or in the bush - mice are feral animals here, and will displace small native mammals in danger of extinction - and I find the smugness of these people about "saving a life" insufferable, because they're actually dooming a native animal they've not seen and never will, but they don't understand ecology enough for that, or maybe all they care about is that they themselves keep their hands clean by not killing directly, when all of us with our very existences kill indirectly anyway.

You get these smug vegans sometimes, drinking their soy milk in apparent complete ignorance that wildlife habitat was cleared in order to accommodate the soy monoculture, which in all cases is fossil-fuel intensive and completely hostile to any other life than the soy crop, and in most cases is really heavy on herbicides and results in land degradation (it's a problem with broadacre cropping). Do they not think about the habitat clearing? Do they think the wild animals can find a new home and new food? No, it's like bulldozing a suburb and saying, "These people can find somewhere else to live!" and indeed, in that case, humans are actually more likely to survive because of emergency aid, refugee organisations etc. Also, it's not just the cute animal we need to care about, it's all the species and the entire system they are part of, including the plants, who don't have less value just because they don't have nervous systems and big eyes.

I agree with the vegans that it's better to eat a legume crop yourself than feed it to animals and then eat their meat, and I agree with the vegans that industrial animal production is horrible and a big environmental problem to boot - but I don't agree with them that all food animal production is unethical. I don't agree with the people who oppose kangaroo culls or brumby culls and clearly don't understand ecology. And I don't agree with the people who proudly write into Grass Roots to say they've got their dogs and cats on all-vegetarian diets - poor animals - if they want a vegetarian pet they should keep a herbivore, and besides, it's so silly - you don't have to feed steak to your dog, the dog is fine with bones and some offal and waste cuts that you wouldn't want yourself, and a bit of F&V mixed in because they're not pure carnivores. Or with the people who buy all-vegetable soaps who don't realise beef tallow is a by-product that goes to waste if you don't use it, while palm oil production displaces rainforests etc etc etc. Ditto leather, which is biodegradable while synthetics aren't. The problem is, many modern people are just so completely divorced from nature, in their little suburban bubbles, that they don't get a lot of this stuff, and the complexities of this stuff.

I regularly get petitions sent to me for signing, to ban live export. Well, I do agree that food animals should be processed locally, because it's kinder to reduce the transportation and because we should darn well have the manufacturing jobs ourselves and if the people at the other end don't like it they can get their meat elsewhere or eat lentils, as far as I'm personally concerned. I'd never knowingly consign one of our steers to live export, and I prefer to sell abattoir-direct, which is what we did last time (and so far, our cattle were always bought by West Australian abattoirs even when they went to auction). But I wouldn't ban live export completely because it's important to exchange breeding animals with other countries sometimes - you will have to ship females for certain things, you can't just ship frozen semen.

Big topic, animal welfare and ethics.

And while we're on the subject, I'm sure I've killed thousands of ants hiking, but I'm not about to carry a broom and sweep the path before me wherever I go. Neither will I go and deliberately destroy an ant heap (unless it's trying to invade our house). I've no issue swatting mosquitoes but that's not because I don't value invertebrates on the whole. Etc etc etc.

More in a bit...
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,989 ·
Although our scale is larger, I feel that we raise our animals in a similar fashion. We know our cows and calves, and the girls and I even have names for many of them. Lol. The ones without names are called by their number, but generally you know everyone. Sometimes I will see a certain kind of cow, black and longer faced, similar in the herd to many of the others, and her number means nothing to me, but those are few. I’m sure that either my husband or my dad could give me ten stories about that cow, but I couldn’t place her except to tell you the year she was born.

I believe we do our very best to care for the cattle in a way that gives them their best possible life for the time they are alive. I wonder if the length of life has all that much to do with it really, and I don’t have a big problem with death. That said, I don’t desire to go around killing anything I don’t plan on eating unless it is in the kindness of ending ones misery. I don’t care for killing predators unless it is necessary and they have broken my boundaries of not trying to kill one of my own, and I tend towards letting things be.
Yeah, I have no food animal welfare issues with the way you guys run your cattle. I understand that we can't support flagrant meat eating in our bloated human population by the kinds of more natural production systems you do on your range and we do on our pasture alone, and I don't think it's right to make up the shortfall by feedlotting animals and producing them industrially, so I would prescribe more vegetarian meals and more rigorous use of contraception as an alternative - as well as, e.g., some backyard poultry keeping, preferably in backyard permaculture setups rather than private feedlot situations.

Looook: The Permaculture Home Garden

And we need more people on the land doing environmentally friendly food-production activities instead of having just broadacre, machinery-driven agriculture, and we actually need consumers to pay a higher price for their food so that people can do these things, and do them properly. So that means we need to have local abattoirs so farmers can market their own meat (we can't even bring it to the consumers' attention that our cattle are grass-fed and has decent shelter, social interaction and exploration and play opportunities) and for the government to provide these abattoirs themselves if necessary, rather than let the corporates push legislation so that small abattoirs become disallowed for alleged welfare reasons, or to dictate their economies of scale to everyone raising cattle or other food animals (or producing milk, eggs, etc). I don't have an issue with a government-run abattoir, since I'm a taxpayer and I'd like more of what I pay to go towards infrastructure the little people can use, rather than just having the little people's tax money subsidise corporates who push everyone else out of the market (while paying very little tax themselves 👹😡).


What I really like was what Sue said at the end. That we do our best to care for our own circle of influence. It is hard sometimes to remember that we do not control the government or our neighbors or anyone else who doesn’t follow our desired program. Yet, if we all care for our circle of influence we are doing what we can do.
I also think it's possible to get very depressed about things outside of our control, and that this then saps our energy and ability to best serve our actual circle of influence. Maybe I'm too practical or survival-driven to want to be caught in that trap. My husband does get very depressed about the stuff that's going on in the world. I look and keep informed at intervals, but don't let myself be sucked in by the news cycle for starters - neither does my husband, but it just depresses him to already know how many things are. I guess I actively avoid things that make me feel bad enough for long enough to significantly impact my own ability to do positive things where I can. I can feel just as bad as he about things, but I just try to counteract that, and I think ironically that having a complex PTSD brain setup actually helps me there, because I've had to focus on the many beautiful things in the world and on the constructive things I could do, in the face of a really scary and unhappy home environment, since I was a toddler. While Brett had a largely happy home life so his initial microcosm didn't prepare him for the wider world in the same way. Not that I recommend a deeply problematic upbringing as preparation for the real world!



I bookmarked this article a while back: Lion is left bloodied and battered after buffalo fights it off in hour-long battle. It is extremely gory, even by my marginal standards. From the Daily Mail, a British paper. The lion wasn't only left bloodied. He was hurt bad enough that he was finished off a few days later by hyenas.

I kept it because I sometimes encounter people who really think Disney nature flicks are real life. Or believe that somehow peace and harmony prevail if humans aren't there. I think we protected civilized people, who almost never kill our own food, need some reminders that life is indeed harsh. Predators struggle to stay alive. Very few wild lions live anything close to their maximum age. And in the Intermountain West, deer are usually limited in numbers by starvation during the winter.
Yes, I think the increasing urbanisation of places like Australia and the US, which are already highly urbanised anyway, aren't doing that any favours and more education is needed - but who's going to provide that?

Brett and I were also talking about abattoirs. One of the reasons they have this repulsive quality to us is because industrial-scale death is repulsive and horror-movie like. All those animals lining up in the kill line, the efficient production-line turning of them into meat and by-product. But that's neither here nor there for the animals, who, if the abattoir does its job well, don't see any of that, and get humane handling and a humane end, very like when we put down our pets but earlier of course. On the other hand, not every abattoir has high standards in those areas - which is where I do think things need to be stringently regulated and overseen.

I think modern humans have gotten used to living into old age, and expect that this is normal when it doesn't actually happen very much at all in nature. I could now go off on a related area, which is the tendency for many people to want to extend the human life span at all costs, even when the old and/or terminally ill people concerned say they actually don't want more interventions, and would like to die with dignity. I think that should be an unalienable right of an individual, to say enough is enough, and that the people for whom this is a problem need to work on their own "stuff" about death and mortality rather than let their own existential panic adversely affect someone else's right to die with dignity...


I feel guilty killing a rattlesnake in our yard. I do it because I prefer killing the rattlesnake to seeing my dogs or grandchildren die, but I don't like it. Didn't bother me to kill the rooster we used to own, but he was a nasty animal even by chicken standards - and chickens aren't always nice to each other any more than horses are.
Yes, isn't it funny how when an animal is really obnoxious to its fellows we have less qualms in taking it out. It feels like a public service to the others. (Now, if we applied that to politicians...😜 😈)


The cattle at your place SueC have incredibly good lives compared to the large majority of animals. There is a movement AND a market for cattle that are treated at least a little bit more humanely than the lowest cost/pound model gives. I hope that market expands. I'd gladly pay more for my meat and eggs if the animals involved would be treated more like animals and less like mobile units of pre-packaged beef.
And this is where we need the public to work with us so that we can have local abattoirs, etc etc. The problem is, we're in such a minority it's so easy to ignore us... and public grassroots campaigns can work wonders. I like the increasing interest a lot of urban people are taking in the production of the food they eat, that you see at farmers' markets etc. 👍 Which, ironically, we can't participate in because we're too small a producer to be able to afford the fees, and because the beef, which would make it worthwhile, can't be killed locally...


I liked Knave's comment above about doing what we can. We can't save the world from anything. But we can look for ways to make what is around us a little better.
I think all of us can agree on that, and I think it lays the groundwork for the best possible use of our personal energies in the service of such ideals. 😎
 

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Mother Nature is a cruel hag, nature is cruel. We , as humans, should ensure an animal that we consume, are raised humanely, and slaughtered humanely. I grew up on a hobby farm, we took our Cattle to the slaughter house and watched the process. I was allowed to watch as a kid, was very painless, but the part that bothered me was the hauling to the slaughter. We had a family friend with a stock truck, I hated how they ran our steers, usually 2 Or 3 up the ramp, they looked scared to me. The killing was humane, steer walked down a cement alley and bang, he fell. When my dad was butchering our ducks, head on the chopping block, me as a little kid, pitched a huge rock & hit him on the back of the head. Pretty sure I felt more pain from my spanking then the ducks felt from the swift chop. When I was a teenager, I had no problem butchering young roosters, kinda revenge as they were raping our laying hens. They almost killed my favorite hen, I volunteered to butcher. If we didn't eat these animals, they wouldn't exist, very few people keep Cattle & whatnot as pets. There are a few, but they couldn't afford to without the meat industry, feed prices would break them financially.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,991 · (Edited)
I've got this huge backlog of things that happened that I want to journal about before they escape my mind but have been too busy to scratch myself, as we say here. So this Monday morning I'm giving myself a slot to get this stuff written.

First of all I wanted to go back to the day I took my rising 3 Simmental X steers to the neighbour's yard, last Tuesday, in preparation for the abattoir pickup truck the following morning - that's how we did it this time. So it went like this: Yarding on Tuesday, overnight feeding with hay, transport and arrival at Harvey abattoirs on Wednesday, in the kill line on Thursday. When you sell to them direct they guarantee to kill your animals within 48 hours of receiving them onto transport. You don't have that guarantee when you sell at auction.

Also, when you sell to them directly you get a set price per kilogram on-hook, agreed beforehand - and you don't end up scalped at the auction, as happened to us once - one lot of beef heifers we sold some years ago went at such a low price it wasn't worth the time for us to raise them, and they were good animals in excellent condition, so somebody along the line had all the profit out of that, but not us...

Hey by the way, do you have this saying in America? We have it here and I quite like it! You can even get it as a bumper sticker: "Don't criticise a farmer with your mouth full!"


THE CATTLE SO FAR


We started ten years ago with a motley crew of four Angus cattle that were left over from the Angus herd the original owner of our block had run across the four blocks he farmed before retiring. Sadly, nobody would buy the business, so he sold all his blocks separately and took all his livestock to auction. We bought two just-off-milk orphans they'd raised as bobby calves and didn't want to put on the truck, and a later a cow with a new-dropped calf they'd hung onto.

As we were so busy building our house at the time and didn't have yards, we just allowed the four cattle the run of the place for years, and they were belly-deep in grass. One day, a friend said, "Sue, you've got to sell those cattle!" The cow was nearly 5, her steer calf a huge 2-year-old, and the erstwhile bobby calves, Wills and Harry, were massive 3-year-olds. Wills was this gentle giant who liked it if I played with the water hose with him, and if he was standing by the farm dam I could go right up to him, sit with my back propped against one of his massive front legs, and he'd just chew his cud and we'd enjoy each other's company.

He also loved scratching himself against my tie rails:

A neighbour agreed with this friend and said we could use his yards and he'd ship them with his own cattle. So that's what we did. I'd have had to start trimming cow feet if we'd kept them much longer! It was really sad to see them go, especially Wills - for some reason Waltzing Matilda kept playing in my head and I cried after they were gone, saying to Brett, "Now Wills is somebody's juicy jumbuck!" - in reference to the sheep the squatter in the song bags for his dinner.

The two older steers were so massive they broke the auction weight record for steers at Mt Barker that week and couldn't go through the ordinary production line - they had to go to a dedicated bull line as they were over 800kg apiece, and most cattle are sold for slaughter here at around the 400-500kg mark.

For the proceeds we bought nine bobby calves off a local dairy, and paid for a skilled friend to help us install our second-hand kitchen.

Here's Tim working with Brett (and me, but I'm taking the photo!):

The finished kitchen:

Time flies and the bobby calves grew up quickly - this is them as yearlings with our three original horses:

Soon they were 2-year-olds:

...and then 3-year-olds, which is when we sold them - dairy steers stay an extra year with us because they don't put on muscle properly before their third year...

We sold those in two batches, made a bit of money on them, and bought our first beef weanlings with part of the cheque - six sturdy Murray Grey steers from auction:

You could see they were hardy, and up to the winter weather immediately. It's an Australian medium-sized breed, kinder to the land than the larger breeds.

They grew quickly and we had them just over a year.

This was before the drought, so we were running these animals in cohorts - and buying a new little group six to twelve months before we'd sell the older group.

So we had another group of five this time mixed-breed beef steers coming up at the same time, some of which you can see here:

And this is the most cattle we ever had on our block; 18 of them at once the month we were selling the six 2-year-old Murray Greys and we'd just bought in seven weanling Murray Grey heifers:

That was shortly down to 12, and the Murray Greys sold very well.

But that winter we had a hard frost that knocked out most of our perennial pasture, so we quickly on-sold our five then rising-2 beef steers, who went to finish for six weeks or so at a feedlot - the first time we weren't able to grass-finish our own animals. I don't like feedlots, but they are preferable to starvation, or to us turning our place into a private feedlot and the animals trampling soil the frost had laid bare and causing degradation and erosion. The decision was made with ecology in mind and with the best animal welfare we could manage at the time. We kept the seven little heifers, who weren't a problem for the land and whom we could feed with hay through that winter.

You can see the orange patches in the pasture - that's dead kikuyu, killed by the unusual hard frost, and usually the mainstay of beef pasture through the mid-winter here.

The winter was so tough we even put them in the garden as lawn-mowers:

We fed a lot of tree fodder that winter - we have both Acacia saligna for roughage, and tree lucerne. This is the heifers eating acacia:

A old photo showing our fodder hedges establishing - with acacias in the tree belt to the left, and tagasaste (tree lucerne) hedges around the house:

The foreground paddock is a neighbour's - we took this from a hill on a bushwalk - you can see the road and fences separating their paddocks from ours (and the horse in the red rug in the right of the photo is Romeo!). Since we don't have machinery, we grow fodder hedges, which also have lots of other benefits like making bird habitat, green firebreaks, winter feed for bees, stock shelter, soil erosion control, firewood etc.

As I mentioned, we got scalped when selling the heifers and were disillusioned, so we bought dairy poddies again, which are an economical purchase and this time, we bought without an agent, directly from a neighbouring dairy:

Besides, we were now in drought and therefore ran only half the cattle we usually run.

When the Friesians were getting bigger we bought in four Simmental crosses from the same people who'd sold us our original nine dairy poddies years earlier - these beef cattle were one of their experimental side projects. This was the mixed group, but only five of the eight as I was taking this from horseback! We could run these, as you can see from the state of the summer pasture, but we didn't buy more because of the drought, which also made hay expensive and hard to get.

The white-faced one in the foreground is the one we lost to a trace element deficiency the following winter, when Brett and I were both bedridden with the worst flu we've ever had, at the same time, and so didn't notice that steer starting to ail early enough to fix it - also we'd never had a cow that didn't lick the mineral blocks before, so we were stumped originally. We then brought his three remaining cohort mates into our smaller fields, dosed them with cobalt, and gave them hay through the winter as an added precaution. The Friesians were fine and stayed on the big pasture.

We ended up eating one of the Friesians when he developed a shoulder strain that didn't heal - this is after we'd sent the other three to auction rising 3. He stayed with our young Simmental steers initially. This is a cute shot a friend of ours took of them last winter:

...and you saw how they looked recently in the top post on this page. They were massive...
 

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ON YARDING DAY

This is how I recounted yarding day to a friend last week:

"Well, this was pretty much a day from hell - it's cattle sale time, which is not my favourite time because I'm sending animals off to be eaten, after they're put down of course. But since I eat meat, and since we own land, it's my responsibility to have herbivores on the grass both for bushfire risk reduction and to feed humans - if I didn't continue grass-fed beef farming here, I'd increase the pressure on two other things: Land clearing (wildlife habitat bulldozed to make way for more pasture) and feedlotting / industrial animal rearing. At least my cattle have a good life while they're here, and their 2-3 years at death is generally better than how it goes in wild populations, without human interference (there, the majority die before they're 1).

So I was on my own (because nobody else I'd asked had time to come help, and I even offered to pay people but there's nobody around at a loose end - and Brett couldn't take a day off work), trying to get the cattle to the neighbour's property: That meant taking them out of a gate at our NE corner they'd never been through before (and anything new is suspicious to them), and walking them 800m along the roadside track and then - and this is the hard part - trying to get them to cross the road and go through the neighbour's gate down his driveway to his yards. And before all of that, I had to find them first - in 50 hectares of bush, where they'd gone sightseeing - they weren't on the pasture. I walked 2km before I saw them, with heavy feed buckets - I've occasionally fed them cow cubes as a treat, and they've learnt to follow me when I have the buckets.

They were at the very back of the property and then I had to walk them 1km back around to the NE corner to get them out the gate - just rattling the buckets and encouraging them to follow me, which they did. I opened the gate and put the buckets down in the gateway, and gradually moved the buckets further out so they would come out into the general trackway that runs along the road - once I had them there I let them eat a bit, and then it was easy to herd them along the track because there's a fence to one side and thick forest between the track and the road. My neighbour had come down in his jeep to drive alongside on the road, to make sure the cattle didn't run back on it when we hit the road crossing - they have homing instincts like pigeons, and that's always the challenge. With a bit of to-ing and fro-ing and the strategic placement of the feed buckets into the neighbour's gateway, the cattle finally crossed the road, stopped trying to run back home on it or up in the other direction, and went through the gateway, and then it was an easy 500m up the driveway to the yards. Phew.

They've got water and hay there, and the pickup truck is coming tomorrow.

And that was the short part. Then I spent the rest of the day doing all the paperwork (the long bit...OMG...forms and forms and forms, and then getting grouched at by the agent about not being sure if we had the electronic information on the ear tags transferred and later on it turns out that that's not our responsibility but the breeders' and when I rang them they said they transferred them two and a bit years ago when we bought them so all that was a storm in a teacup...).

I had one slice of bread and an avocado all day before I had a bowl of cornflakes when starting the paperwork... and yesterday spent half the day doing online courses so I could sell these cattle, which only very silly people couldn't have passed the tests without reading all the info...

I don't know why everything has to be so complicated. E.g. anyone can pass an animal welfare quiz, but it doesn't mean that they're going to be kind to animals...

Pictures of the steers attached, including the nicely healed skin on the one who had the worst ingrown horn - you can see a slightly pink patch on the side of his face with hair starting to grow back.
(See top of page for same photos.)

Tomorrow morning I've got to get the paperwork to the transporter and also check that nobody has lost their ear tags before they go on the truck, and if any are missing, I have to get a replacement from the breeder (before the truck arrives)...and then I can go home and do the dozen other things that urgently need doing..."


THE NEXT FEW DAYS

The following night I had an interesting telephone call from the Department of Agriculture officer at Harvey abattoir. Once again, this is how I related it to a friend who asked how the paperwork and check went in the morning:

"The cattle had all their eartags, but I was sad I hadn't remembered to check the previous afternoon when I yarded them at the neighbour's place. Because when they saw me they all went, "Moooooo!" - and clearly hoped I would let them back out again. I hate disappointing animals. I'd brought over some fresh corn stalks for them as a treat (I'm harvesting eating corn; we eat the cobs and the cattle eat the rest usually) but only one of them was madly interested - they'd had a lot of hay overnight so weren't starving, but the two who kind of turned it down were really saying, "Can you please get us out of this place so we can get on with our day?"

It's always hard for me when animals I've cared for are going to die. It's about the same stress on me when youngish cattle go to get turned into food than when I put down old horses. I've bonded with these things and know their personalities and my body just revolts for a few days, lose my appetite, trouble sleeping (I knock myself out with drowsy antihistamines for a few nights in situations like this or I won't sleep at all). And the reason I let myself bond with the cattle is that it gives them a better quality of life to be friendly with a human, and it will cause them to stress less when they meet other humans when they're transported and then put through the abattoir.

Oh, and you know this bit from before?

And that was the short part. Then I spent the rest of the day doing all the paperwork (the long bit...OMG...forms and forms and forms, and then getting grouched at by the agent about not being sure if we had the electronic information on the ear tags transferred and later on it turns out that that's not our responsibility but the breeders' and when I rang them they said they transferred them two and a bit years ago when we bought them so all that was a storm in a teacup...).

At 8pm last night I got a call from the Department of Agriculture officer who works at the abattoir to tell me that the eartags of the cattle had never been transferred into our names, so he had to verify with me before the abattoir could legally kill them. So I got my paperwork out with the sales contracts from back then etc and we sorted that out, and he told me (finally, someone told me) what to do so it doesn't happen again (and he was very friendly about it). The breeders are supposed to notify the database when they transfer stock to you, but there's no way I could tell if they had, and when I rang them to double check they said they were sure they had. Anyway, because this can happen, I'm also supposed to have a database account to check from my end within 24 hours of receiving new stock, that the animals have been transferred into my name on the national eartag database. Over and above having the paperwork. So complicated - why doesn't anyone email me to notify me - my dog is microchipped and the pet database emails us every year to say, "Are these details correct?"

Nobody could tell me how to do it, until it wasn't done properly and then the Dpt of Ag person got involved.
😠 It's a completely separate thing to the usual livestock industry website we get all our official paperwork from and do the "cattle being moved from our property to other place" forms... 😠

Anyway, we're getting four calves on Saturday directly from the same place again - we'll doubly make sure that the database thing gets done... they're a nice family and this bureaucratic stuff gives everyone false memories and all sorts of heebiejeebies.
😛"


THE KILL REPORT

Because we signed up for the MSA programme (a quality control feedback system which pays you an extra premium as well when you sell your cattle for processing), I got a kill report in the inbox on Friday to inform me my animals had been dispatched the previous day, and the summary quality scoring so far (more to come when the meat is chilled etc):
MSA.jpg

The Meat Standards Australia people aren't really interested in animal welfare directly, or in nutrition as such, just in their own parameters of eating quality, which is things like juiciness, tenderness etc. These are indirectly related to a few welfare issues, e.g. acute stress before slaughter adversely impacts these qualities. On the other hand, whether or not a cut is tough is also influenced by how you hang the carcase, and how long for. So while the MSA people are mostly interested in young animals with bright-red meat and marbling, for instance, in Europe there is now a gourmet trend to eating older animals with darker meat that have been hung properly post-kill and are therefore not tough, and have a more complex palate because more mature. I personally prefer that European line of thinking, which treats older stock that have come in post-breeding as good food if processed carefully, rather than as dog food or hamburger mince. Also I actually don't like marbled meat, personally, although I know the Japanese are crazy about it and that's one of our main export markets.

These steers didn't have much marbling as it's not in the traditional Australian beef breed genetics, but they still did pretty well on meat colour, not being too fat or too thin, and on the overall preliminary index. More information here: https://www.mla.com.au/globalassets...ia/form-3.7.1-producer-feedback-explained.pdf

I'm more concerned about ecology, heirloom breed preservation, animal welfare and nutrition, but I'm participating in the MSA programme so I can get some feedback on the carcases. In general I am wary of the parameters used in such programmes because they're too narrow and market-driven from what I can see, and strive for uniformity of product, which is one of the things that's leading to a huge loss of genetic diversity in farm animals (and fruit and vegetables), and to a loss of many valuable heirloom breeds. I bought Simmental crosses when they were available because I want to support breed diversity rather than just wall-to-wall Angus and maximum possible profit for a particular eating fashion of the day. And, I bought them directly from a family farmer, and they had a good life, and that's worth a whole lot more to me than whether their meat grades as well as Angus according to the parameters de jour.

I believe consumers need to be educated that nature is not about homogeneity but about diversity, in fruits and vegetables and the kinds of animals, farm breeds etc that their meat, eggs and dairy products come from - and that diversity is valuable and interesting. Also that you have to approach your cooking differently depending on what you are eating, rather than just expect the same technique to work equally for everything - and that it's interesting to learn how to treat your food with the respect it deserves.

We all agree that we have a responsibility for what comes out of our mouth. But, ethically, we also have a responsibility for what goes into it.
 

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I really like what you said at the end of your post about homogeneity versus diversity, respect, and ethics/responsibility.

We (family of 4) are vegetarian and dairy free (we eat eggs and honey), but totally support food production like you do. We try to purchase locally produced food as much as possible. Obviously the dairy-free milk is a troublesome one. We do use soy because it has the best replacement protein content and is better than almond in terms of environmental impact. We buy organic soy milk to reduce the impact a little.

The dairy free is because of intolerance issues and also ethical/environmental because dairy production in NZ has just gone insane. I am fine with producing dairy for the NZ public, but its all the high intensity dairy farming in regions it should not be in to produce by-products to ship overseas to markets that traditionally did not consume dairy products. And we end up with all the loss of habitat and water way pollution and degradation. The area I grew up in as a child has now started to be dairy farmed intensively. All this beautiful landscape is now covered in large irrigators and dairy cows.

The anti-leather (and wool) stance of hard-core vegans really irritates me too. Leather and wool are natural fibers, why would you want to produce more synthetics over them! If there was more of a wool market, then fewer farmers in NZ would convert to dairy.

We grow as much of our own food as we can on our urban section, and compost all our scraps. And I know many others like us too in our city. Not necessarily dairy free and vegetarian but trying to be ethical and responsible about food. Although our city council does have a local and sustainable food project, and we have a great farmers market. So I think there are many consumers that are aware. Hopefully over time that number will increase.
 

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THE NEW CALVES

Saturday morning we took a delivery of four dairy poddies, right into a severe weather warning forecast for the weekend. This them settling into our small shelter paddock, with a shed in it and also tree lucerne hedges all around for wind protection and food self-service:


Here you can see two eating hay in the shelter and two hiding in the tree lucerne on the right (edible leaves, yum yum and they're going for it, and there's also some corn plants in the foreground for them to try because I'm harvesting our last batch of eating corn at the moment):

And a few more snaps...





As you can see, they settled in quite easily, although they soon began jumping over our temporary enclosure lines like grasshoppers in order to explore the wider world, and were chasing each other around the horse paddocks kicking up their little heels before the trailer that brought them had left the property! The horses were in the common at this time, away from all this, so there were no complications - although Julian got very looky from the other end of the property, the moment they began running around, and came to the fence to watch what was happening.

We herded the little mob back to their enclosure a couple of times that afternoon as the rain squalls were coming in, and each time they settled happily in their little enclosure with their food, before they'd fly the coop again the moment the rain stopped to investigate the wider area.

The polybraid in my enclosure fencing for the shelter paddocks and the horses' usual night-time paddocks is getting old and doesn't carry a "cow current" anymore, but has been good enough for the horses. I want to have it properly re-done with a single very hot wire at knee height so I can keep cattle of all ages in there again as well (as I used to be able to do when the polybraid was new), but because there aren't enough strainer posts in these lines I've been unable to do it myself. (The original "inside-paddock" fencing for the horses was done just with star pickets and polybraid.)

I don't have a tractor and need to hire someone to put posts in for me, and would actually like them for the whole job, but what's too big a job for me is considered too small a job for commercial contractors to do, so I'm still looking for someone with the equipment and skills to do it. Meanwhile, we're juggling the calves - at least the boundary fences are 7-strand barbed wire and pretty breakout proof. I don't want to run new polybraid in the internal paddocks because it lasts less than a year for cattle requirements, I just want to get that one hot wire in at chest height and look for someone who can help me do that, before these calves grow into little bulldozers.

Sunday night was cold and windy with sleet coming down, and I was happy because the four new calves were in their shelter and curled up happily in a bed of food while the storm was raging outside - a severe weather warning with a sheep weather alert means stock losses due to hypothermia can be expected, with sheep or other animals of around that size exposed to these conditions - and these calves are 100-125kg each and just off milk, and therefore you don't want them lying out in those conditions. (It may not be below freezing here yet, but between the rain and the Roaring Forties you can be chilled to the bone in no time where we live.)

The horses and the not-overweight donkeys were all in their portable Arctic sleeping bags for this occasion and they usually don't use the shelter when they have rugs on anyway, but just to make sure, I locked them out of the small shelter area - there's plenty of shelter belts in the large paddocks they know how to use, and they did exactly that, while the calves stayed in the shelter shed unmolested.

Phew. It's amazing how quickly chasing after a new set of calves and getting them settled and protected in bad weather has taken my mind off the fact that my last lot just met the end of the road. But here's the thing: The majority of their lives looks like you see in the photos here. The abattoir is their last day. I think the pictures of their lives are more representative of their total experience than pictures of their deaths - same as it is with our horses, and us. I could spend all my time thinking about how one day the little animals will grow up and hang from a hook, but that would be as pointless as spending all my time thinking about how one day I'm going to have to make a decision I don't want to make for my horses at the end of their road, or how all of my human friends will one day end up in a morgue with a toe tag and then inside a coffin. You've got to focus on life while you have it, or you may as well dig your grave right now.


OTHER FARM HAPPENINGS

I'm happy this afternoon because I've NEARLY finished roasting and freezing three massive Musqué de Provence Pumpkins that weighed around 20kg each, which is ridiculous because they're supposed to get to 10-15kg. Usually they store well, but all three had been nibbled underneath by slaters before harvest, so I had to preserve them quickly - and we're also eating lots of pumpkin soup, I've made pumpkin bread, last night we had pumpkin/feta/cashew pizza, and I'm making citrus/pumpkin/almond cake this week... and the dog is getting a bit of pumpkin with her dinner at the moment, and we did split up half a pumpkin into nine wedges which were doled out to friends to try...


Since we're away from main roads and too small to go to farmers' markets with our F&V excesses, I preserve most of these and feed them to us and to farmstay guests down the track, and share some excess fresh produce out with friends and Brett's colleagues, who also share their gluts out.

Also, the dog is happy - right now she's curled up on the sofa as the rain pours down outside, but these photos are more indicative of her usual daytime manner:






In other news, I put an old saddle on Julian the other day after trimming his feet, and he was fine with that. Next steps when the weather fines up. It's not even a hundredth of what @Knave has done with Queen so far, but it's momentous for us at the moment!
 

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COASTAL WALK BETWEEN COLD FRONTS

Sunday morning there was a break between cold fronts with a little sun, so we managed to sneak out for a 90 minute coastal sanity walk - a bit of the Bibbulmun, followed by a stroll on Muttonbird Beach.




Brett has pandemic hair that's standing up dramatically in the wind:


There was this surfer out on the ocean we swore was motorised because he kept zooming from one end of the beach to the other:

Jess was chasing waves as usual.

Here's a film of her doing that on an inland lake a few years back. The bigger the surf, the more she runs, so this is a mild case of wave-chasing for her!


...and that's my writing backlog all caught up, phew! 🤪
 

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I really like what you said at the end of your post about homogeneity versus diversity, respect, and ethics/responsibility.

We (family of 4) are vegetarian and dairy free (we eat eggs and honey), but totally support food production like you do. We try to purchase locally produced food as much as possible. Obviously the dairy-free milk is a troublesome one. We do use soy because it has the best replacement protein content and is better than almond in terms of environmental impact. We buy organic soy milk to reduce the impact a little.

The dairy free is because of intolerance issues and also ethical/environmental because dairy production in NZ has just gone insane. I am fine with producing dairy for the NZ public, but its all the high intensity dairy farming in regions it should not be in to produce by-products to ship overseas to markets that traditionally did not consume dairy products. And we end up with all the loss of habitat and water way pollution and degradation. The area I grew up in as a child has now started to be dairy farmed intensively. All this beautiful landscape is now covered in large irrigators and dairy cows.

The anti-leather (and wool) stance of hard-core vegans really irritates me too. Leather and wool are natural fibers, why would you want to produce more synthetics over them! If there was more of a wool market, then fewer farmers in NZ would convert to dairy.

We grow as much of our own food as we can on our urban section, and compost all our scraps. And I know many others like us too in our city. Not necessarily dairy free and vegetarian but trying to be ethical and responsible about food. Although our city council does have a local and sustainable food project, and we have a great farmers market. So I think there are many consumers that are aware. Hopefully over time that number will increase.
Yeah, I completely respect people's right to be vegetarian or vegan, as long as they don't get smug and superior with people who aren't doing things exactly the same way as them, which clearly you're not, and a lot of vegetarians (and even some vegans) are not. Here's a sketch that lampoons what I mean:


Bwahaha, that JP Sears! 😄

We don't live in a black-and-white universe, and there's different approaches that can be taken in trying to live without causing unnecessary harm to the planet and other beings. I think the main thing is to engage with these problems, rather than put our heads in the sand and not care where our food is coming from, etc - and to respect other people who are engaging with these problems whether or not they take the same path as us, and to learn from each other. After all, it's not easy to do any of this well, and we all inevitably cause some harm by being alive.

Totally get you re NZ dairying, and any industrial-scale dairying, which is happening a lot in Australia as well. It's why I support local family dairies as much as possible, including by buying some of their weanling calves. The people we bought these poddies from already have to have one of the family working a paid job elsewhere because milking 150 cows ludicrously doesn't support a family anymore these days, because of low milk prices to consumers and because the middlemen put too much in their own pockets. But if they sell up, they're most likely either going to be snapped up by mega-farmers or the corporate sector, and things will get bigger, meaning the livestock isn't getting the same attention and care, or - in our region - that good dairying land is bought up by taxpayer-subsidised tree farms who make woodchips instead of feed people...
 

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What are the woodchips from the tree farms for? Heating or energy production in some form?

It all gets so backwards when anything turns into industrial scale production and driven by profits for mega corporations. Most of my editing work is in the environmental chemistry area about degradation related to industrial production...

Ha, and no, we are not superior about our non-meat eating at all. In fact, until about 3 years ago, we did eat meat. Just not that regularly because we only bought local and ethically produced. Then it just got too expensive to sustain, so we just gave it up. I have been a "I prefer-to-be-vegetarian" for most my adult life, but I will politely eat any meat (or dairy-containing item) that I get served out for meals at other people's places, because if they have put in the effort, expense, and thought to cook for me, I am sure going to eat it and be grateful. At home, I ate it in the past because my husband and one of my kids like it, and it was easier than cooking multiple meals.
 

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I think we should try to preserve native animals. What I dislike is the attitude that a non-native animal is a less valuable being. Such as when I found the injured opossum. There is no plan to eradicate the opossums. I would approve of capturing and neutering or searching for them and quick, humane euthanasia to get the numbers down. Instead, the plan is just to not help injured ones. So ignore the injuries and let them suffer, or euthanize.

If I find an injured animal, I see no reason to euthanize rather than give care when none of the other opossums are being culled. If you would not have sought out and killed the animal, why do I need to let you kill it just because I found it? As if one opossum will make the difference when there is no other plan to limit the population. This is senseless, and I personally want to help any injured animal I find, native or not. Not every animal needs to be released again, or can be neutered first. There are other solutions. Opossums actually make great pets.
 

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I am excited for you and saddling Julian!! That is a massive feat! Congratulations!!!

I really am blown away by all of the thoughts on raising animals and food. I loved this discussion. It seems something people rarely think about in urban environments. No, that is wrong, it’s simply that I feel they don’t think about the whole picture, such as farming the land vs raising the animal.

Here we cannot sell meat directly to a consumer. I guess we could “on the hoof,” but we cannot butcher and sell animals without a whole lot of nonsense to work through. I cannot sell the milk from Mama Pepper either, as that is very illegal.

On the other hand, the people who argue for animal rights, tend to think all animals raised for meat or milk are bad. The ones who argue for ecological purposes do not want cows on the range, but lack the realization that we are the caretakers of the range, and thereby the other animals on it. When that realization hits they desire the mountain to have zero caretaking, but the feral horses are to be allowed to roam free and breed excessively without an actual understanding of those repercussions.

It seems to me that actual conversations about our food and how it is raised or farmed are important to be had. I appreciate those who are wanting to make positive changes in the overall picture, but I think they need to have all of the information before they come to their final conclusions. Just as you discussed the fire and that responsibility.

I think when the entire picture comes together, from an environmental perspective, what is left to discuss is exactly what you are discussing; creating positive lives for the animals we raise and those we effect. The animals themselves can benefit the land and feed the population.

Maybe, when it all comes down to it, our biggest problem is the population itself. ;)
 

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I grew up on a farm (we had dairy goats, merino sheep for wool, and various animals for meat), but have lived in a city all my adult life. So I guess I have the perspective of both sides (and some of my dislike of eating meat is from having to help butcher animals from a young age, like the smell of pork just gets me the wrong way because of having to help scrap hair off pig carcasses in a bath of hot water). One of my best friends is a second generation dairy farmer and works for the NZ milk industry, but there is a big difference between the way that her family manage their farms and what they do on the intensive dairy conversions in NZ. I don't really think population size is the sole issue because so much food is wasted and so much extra is prepared and converted to by-products than is actually needed, and a lot of that is done for profit (by mega corporations not the farmers) rather than to meet a need.

Personally, if I cannot produce my own food or can find and afford a source that I trust is selling me what the actually say it is (in terms of local, sustainably produced food), then I would prefer not to eat it.

The whole food fraud thing is another interesting conversation. In my PhD I used a technique (stable isotope analysis) that they can use for food origin authentication. Even since when I completed my PhD (2008), it has really exploded in terms of the need for food authentication.
 
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