Tuesday, December 29, 2009
I have a real problem with "Humane" Societies. I put "humane" in quotes because I find that some of them are very, very far from that. My problem is not with all of them, my problem is with the "no kill" ones. While I believe that every animal deserves a good chance at a good life, there are some animals that are either too sick, too frail, or too mean to be kept alive. As human caretakers of our animal counterparts, we are responsible for their lives, their welfare, and their deaths. If we are to continue to produce animals for our own goals, we have to take responsibility for that -- all of that, even death.
I recently spoke with someone who worked at a Humane Society in a big city. She worked there for many years and loved her job very much. When she started there, it was a shelter that took in animals from all over the city and its suburbs. Many of those animals went to new homes with very happy new owners. Some of those animals were humanely euthanized due to being very sick, very old, or very unadoptable (usually only the biters). She saw lots of cats come through the door with feline leukemia, feline AIDS, and feline distemper. These diseases have no cure and the cat slowly suffers a painful death. These diseases are also highly communicable to other cats. She had to put down many of these cats in order to keep the healthy cats at the shelter from getting very sick. No one wanted to adopt a sick cat. The dogs also came in with many diseases and uncurable problems. She carefully evaluated each case and only put down the animals that would not get better with treatment. A veterinarian worked closely with her and they both tried every option available before choosing euthanasia. Money was not a factor when it came to surgeries or treatments. If the animal had a chance to get better, it was given that chance.
Eventually the shelter changed directors. The new director decided that it must become a "no kill" shelter because that looked better to the media. He did not allow any euthanasia of sick or dying animals in order to keep the numbers of euthanasia deaths low for the year end reports.
The woman told me about a puppy that came in with heart failure. It had a birth defect that was not fixable. The puppy was suffering horribly as its organs started to fail. It was dying a slow and agonizing death. The director would not allow the woman to put the puppy out of its misery. The puppy died after 22 hours of painful heart failure. Medicine was given to relieve the pain, but you could see in its eyes that it was suffering horribly.
Even though the euthanasia numbers were low at the shelter because of the new "no kill" policy, the adoption numbers plummeted. The shelter could no longer take in animals from the surrounding suburbs. Before the shelter would take adoptable animals from overcrowded suburban shelters and bring them to the city where they had a very good chance of finding a new home. Now the shelter is full of sick cats and sick dogs. The surrounding shelters in the suburbs are also completely full. No one wants to adopt a sick animal. Basically this good shelter that gave great animals a second chance turned into a nursing home for unwanted animals.
This is a great example of what can happen when shelters decide that "euthanasia" is a bad word. Another example that I want to think about is what happens to the animals that can't be taken into the shelters because the shelters are already too full. Where do people turn when they have an animal that they don't want or can't take care of any more and no one will take it? This is why there are so many stray and abused animals around. People that can't take care of them will dump them somewhere. Or they will become empathetic and starve the animal until it goes away. Annual vaccinations and veterinarian checkups cost lots of money. Pet food costs lots of money. When the choice is between feeding a pet you don't want anymore and feeding your family, what will you choose? I am not saying that this happens to every pet that is turned away from the shelter, but it does happen to some.
I think we all need to reevaluate how we view humane euthanasia and "no kill" shelters. I would like to see a return of responsible animal husbandry that includes positive breeding programs, responsible spay/neuter decisions, and euthanasia when necessary. If we continue to flood the world with undesirable animals, soon there won't be any room for us. If we continue to put animal rights above animal welfare, we will be hastening our own means to our own end.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Monday it snowed a little. There was about 2 inches on the ground. Not enough to ski in, but enough that it blanketed everything. Yesterday it was sunny and the snow stayed around. I put the girls out in the pasture. They weren't very happy about that. I had to laugh when the young girls came bounding out of the barn only to just about flip over when they hit the brakes at the door before they hit the white stuff. It was hilarious! They didn't know what to do at all. I shoved them outside anyways and figured they better get to know the snow on a sunny day than on a not so pleasant day.
I knew that the weather man was calling for more snow so last night I ran around and got everything ready for the onslaught. I put the electronet away for the winter. The snow smooshes it and renders it useless so I rolled it up and put it away. I then moved the bucks to the cow shed for the winter. They had been living outside in the back pen. With the snow and cold I figured they might like living the remainder of the time inside the 10' X 12' lean-to shed rather than in an open pen. I even drug their sleeping box all the way from their pen to the shed so they could have an extra sheltered spot to sleep in at night. Aren't I thoughtful? Then I had to clean the chicken house. Until it gets cold enough for the floor of the chicken house to freeze, the floor gets really messy with 15 chickens in a 5' X 5' barn. Once there is snow on the ground they won't step on foot out of the chicken house, even though I leave their door open all the time. They make a mess of the water dish and spill it all over so I wind up cleaning out their house every week. Once the floor freezes I can just keep throwing new shavings on top of the frozen ones until the spring. Oh well, it comes with the territory.
Now the only things left to do before it gets really cold is put the Christmas lights up around the barn and move the rabbits from the outside hutch to cages in the goat barn. Right now the rabbits are fine living in the outside hutch. They have warm nest boxes and plenty of hay. Once it gets to -5F or less I will move them inside to stay warm.
Winter is wonderful, isn't it?
Friday, November 6, 2009
This year I have two bucks that I want to breed to two does. One buck is a Toggenburg baby that was born on the farm last spring. The other buck is a Nubian that I purchased for full price from a nice farm a couple of hours away. I had high hopes for these boys. The Toggenburg is going to be bred to Lucy and the Nubian is going to be bred to Pepper. This is the way it has to be because I refuse to crossbreed Nubians to anything other than Nubians. I have to breed these boys to these girls.
Last week Lucy came into heat. I put her in with the bucks to see what they would do. The Togg buck was very, very interested in her. The Nubian could have cared less. I let the Togg play for a little while and then put Lucy back in her pen. I was not ready to have Lucy bred for real that day. She should come back into heat in three weeks and that is when I will put her back in with the Togg for real.
Yesterday Pepper came into heat. She was screaming and dribbling and generally losing her mind (as does tend to do this time of year). I put her in with the boys and watched carefully. The Togg was very interested and the Nubian ran away. I pulled the Togg out so that he wouldn't get too excited. I left Pepper and the Nubian in together. I watched and watched and only saw the Nubian run away from Pepper and not try to breed her at all. He was terrified of her and she wasn't even being her normal, bossy self. She was turning on the charm as best she could and he wasn't falling for it.
I am very sad because my Nubian buck is not interested in his girlfriend. I hope that he decides that he wants to be a male and wants to breed the girls. If he doesn't do his job, I don't know what I will do with him. I don't want to keep him around if he isn't productive and I don't want to pay to have him neutered at this point. I can't sell him as a buck if I know that he won't breed and I can't get the money I put into him if I sell him as a wether. Also I don't know where to get another Nubian buck in a hurry.
How come it is never easy?!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
The case to be negotiated by the court today involves images of dogfighting obtained primarily in Japan, where dogfighting is completely legal. While I in no way at all condone dogfighting (I think it absolutely stands as a definition of animal cruelty), I find this case incredibly important. On the one side you have the prosecution which maintains that by defining these videos of dogfighting as illegal, you are violating 1st amendment rights to free speech. Also if these images are defined as illegal, what other images will become banned? Will TV shows about hunting, Western movies where horses get shot as part of the storyline, or educational tutorials on proper butchering techniques also fall in the illegal category? Will we no longer be able to watch anything on the Animal Planet channel because the images of a shark eating a seal are deemed as "animal cruelty" and carry a felony charge?
On the other side you have the defense which believes that these images are equal in cruelty and vulgarity to child pornography and serve no benefit to society. I support their argument that dogfighting movies and images of women in high heels crushing mice and kittens (it's a fetish, believe it or not) are inhumane and cruel. I don't support their push to outlaw other images of "animal cruelty". I think their definition is too large and carries too many implications to be placed upon the Constitution. If let out of the box this idea of outlawing images of cruelty could become dangerous to the ability to farmers to make a living or for animal researchers to find a cure for life-threatening diseases.
I have a hard time supporting an idea that could possibly lead the end to educational images of animal butchering or veterinary services. How are veterinarian students expected to learn about internal animal diseases without the aid of educational images of animals? How are farmers expected to learn to humanely slaughter and butcher their animals without the ability to find images of such processes in books, on television, or on the internet?
While I do believe that there are cruel people in the world that get sick entertainment out of torture and harm to animals, I think that these cases need to be dealt with individually and not with a blanket statement by the Supreme Court as to what "animal cruelty" is defined as.
A few examples to illustrate my point about how the idea of "animal cruelty" has gone too far:
1. In my hometown a man accidentally ran over his dog in his driveway. He immediately realized what he had done and took the dog to the only emergency vet clinic that was open at the time (it was a Saturday afternoon). The dog was in good spirits but was holding it's hind leg up and limping a little. The vet took X-rays and determined that the dog did not have a broken bone. The vet recommended that the dog be given IV fluids for treatment of shock and be kept at the vet's over the weekend for a MRI and monitoring, all at an outrageous expense. The man asked what the MRI and monitoring might determine. The vet said that it would tell if there where ligaments torn or if it was just a deep muscle bruise. If the ligaments were torn then the dog would be showing signs of pain and wouldn't be putting weight on the leg by Monday. If it was a bruise then the dog would get better and would be putting some weight on the leg as the bruise healed. The vet's recommendations would cost the man about $6000. The man decided to take the dog home and monitor himself to see if the dog got better. The vet advised him not to do this, but the man did it anyway. On Monday, the dog was not limping anymore and was putting weight on the leg. The man decided that the dog was fine and didn't need further treatment. Monday afternoon the police showed up with an animal control officer to arrest the man and take the dog. The charge was felony animal cruelty because the man did not follow what the vet had recommended.
I have to ask, since when do vets have the right to decide what is best for our animals? The man cared for the dog enough to take him to the vet immediately but simply did not have the resources to do the extraneous tests the vet recommended. Does this make him a criminal?
2. In my hometown, a woman had a feral cat move into her basement laundry room and have kittens in her basket of towels. Every time the woman came downstairs to do laundry the cat tried to attack her. The cat and kittens were also pooping and peeing all over her basement. She call the animal control officer and asked him to come out and get the cats out of her basement. He came and the mother cat tried to attack him as well. He trapped two of the kittens in a live-trap and was able to relocate them. The mother cat and three other kittens remained in the basement where they continued to terrorize the woman. The woman begged and pleaded with the animal control officer over several weeks to get him to take care of the cats. He came back and when he went in the basement the mother cat attacked his leg. He shot it and the three kittens (who were actually almost full grown cats by this time). He had all the cats tested for rabies, which was luckily negative. The woman was able to use her basement again without fear of attack by a wild animal. The animal control officer was arrested on felony animal cruelty for shooting the four cats.
It was his job to protect the public from animals. He did what he believed was necessary to protect himself and the residents of the house from possibly rabid animals. Now, if it had been a family of skunks he had shot, do you think he would be in jail today?
What I am trying to illustrate is that as a society we have become way too opinionated about what is defined as animal cruelty, animal rights, and animal welfare. I am not an animal rights supporter. I am an animal welfare supporter. There is an enormous difference between animal rights and animal welfare. Animal rights is the belief that animals should be afforded the same basic rights as humans. The problem with this idea is that this means that if a cat kills a mouse, the mouse's family has a right to sue the cat under its the due process right. See how silly this idea is? Animals do not have ethics and morals. Animals are cognisant, thinking beings, but they do not have compassion or beliefs or a moral compass. There are some examples of animals sharing or communicating or showing emotions but does this qualify all animals as having human traits? If I have a pet goat, am I guilty of wrongful imprisonment? I would be if animal rightists got their way.
Animal welfare is the belief that animals are living beings deserving of care and respect. This is my position. I raise animals for food. I slaughter animals to feed my family. This does not mean that I do not treat my animals with the utmost of kindness and dignity up until the end. I love every animal I raise, whether it be a meat rabbit or laying hen or pet cat. I believe that if I am going to take that animal's life to support my own, I am going to give that animal the best life I can. I also give that animal the best death I can. I respect it enough to euthanize it quickly and humanely. I respect its sacrifice enough to value every part of that animal. Nothing goes wasted.
I hope that the Supreme Court will be able to see through this decision enough to decide what is proper for life and livelihood and for my animal's life and livelihood.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Hopefully this batch will dry better and be ready to sell in time for Thanksgiving. Soap is fun!
Monday, September 21, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
The cake is two layers of chocolate and two layers of vanilla. My mom frosted the whole thing with chocolate frosting and then made "bark" out of pieces of chocolate and attached them to the cake. She made the roots, knot-hole, and shelf fungus out of rice crispy treats that she molded and then frosted. The pine cones are pieces of cake that are frosted with chocolate frosting and then have almond slivers stuck in them. She made leaves by coating real leaves with colored chocolate and then peeling the leaf off. The top of the stump and butterfly are made from marshmallow fondant. Pretty impressive, huh?
Here is a close-up of a fondant snake that she made to hide among the leaves. Also she made mushrooms out of meringe and coconut.
No cake shaped like a tree stump would be complete without a fondant toad sitting on top!
Monday, September 14, 2009
Sometimes you find really weird things on Craigslist, which is part of the fun. Like today there was an ad for a "chicken/poultry rescue". Some people are actually getting together to rescue birds from people and giving them to foster homes. I thought of responding to the ad because I can offer a foster home for an unwanted chicken -- in my crockpot! Hah! Other times you find some really funny ads for things, like the person that was selling his black locust trees from his backyard. They were for sale for only $1000 a piece (including clean up of the branches and chipping). I printed that ad off for my husband so we could have a good laugh over this person thinking someone would actually give him $1000 for a black locust. In reality, he would be lucky to have to PAY someone only $1000 each for them to be removed.
Another weird part of Craigslist that gives me a laugh is the way people sell pets. Most farm animals are "sold" to someone who "buys" them for a "price". Most pets are "rehomed" to someone who "adopts" them for a "rehoming fee". It kills me! Hah! If you pay a price for any animal and bring it to your house to live, then you aren't "adopting" it for a "fee" to be "rehomed" -- YOU ARE BUYING THE DANG THING!! I get a total kick out of people's use of manipulative language to guilt other people into buying their unwanted dogs and cats. It's like it isn't PC to sell an animal anymore. Also the overuse of the words "rescue" and "adoption" baffles me. I think those words are used to make people believe that they are giving the animal a better home by taking it, when in reality, they are probably just getting it from someone that no longer wants it for some reason -- and those reasons can be anything from "it bit someone's child", or "it barks all the time", or "it's 6 years-old and still poops on the floor", or "it claws me every time I touch it".
This kind of stuff really makes me laugh because I truly believe that there are some animals in the world that just don't deserve to be. Some animals can't be rehabilitated, can't be fixed, can't be tamed. Some animals just aren't going to figure it out and live peacefully with each other or with their human caretakers. There's so many "rescue" places out there and so many animals that need good homes but there aren't enough good homes for all of them. Some animals will have to be euthanized humanely in order for others to live up to their full potentials. I am not saying at all that any animals deserve to be purposefully mistreated. But I do believe that for some animals the only option should be to humanely and safely put an end to their lives. This is how we need to act if we are truly going to represent the lives of the pets and animals we own. We need to stand up and take account for our husbandry decisions and be responsible for our animals. We shouldn't just pass them on to someone else to be stuck with.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
A few years ago my husband brought home 300 pounds of potatoes from a local potato field. He thought that our pigs could eat the potatoes and get fat. Well, pigs can't have lots and lots of raw potatoes because that will give them stomach ulcers. I was not about to cook for the pigs so we threw the potatoes in the compost/manure pile and thought that was the end of that. The next year I noticed some potato plants growing on top of the compost/manure pile. I didn't think much about it. The next spring we took the compost/manure pile and put it on top of the garden. Little did I know what kind of beast we had unleashed by throwing those potatoes in the pile so long ago. That year there were a few potato plants in the garden. The had grown from some of the leftovers that had been in the compost/manure pile. I was happy to see some plants growing and happily harvested the fresh potatoes in the fall. I didn't think any thing more of it.
This year my husband tilled the garden spot with a rototiller. The dirt that was kicked up from the rototiller was beautiful and black and wonderful. Unfortunately the tiller did an unexpected thing of basically waking up all the little pieces of potatoes that had laid dormant from when we had transferred the compost/manure pile over to the garden. This year we didn't just get a few potato plants growing unexpectedly in the garden, we got a few hundred! There are potato plants everywhere! They are in the middle of my rows of peas, in my rows of carrots, next to my tomatoes, in my squash hills, everywhere! These surprise garden guests are crowding out all the plants that I actually planted this year.
It got so bad that last night I decided to take out some of the potatoes so that my other plants could continue to grow without being choked out by the potatoes. I harvested 1/4 of the plants and got 5 gallons of potatoes!!! I harvested the potatoes with a sinking heart because I found there was lots of little, tiny seed potatoes growing. These potatoes won't be big enough to make plants this year, but they will be lying in wait for next year. They will be just sitting in the dirt waiting and hoping for their opportunity to strike out and choke my garden next year! I am sure every single potato that I missed harvesting this year will greet me again next year. AACK!
Friday, July 24, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
That night I told the story to my husband and his only reply was to say, "You're not going to be one of those crazies with 8 million goats, are you?!". (We already had 12 goats living on the farm and here I was trying to buy another one to add to the collection). The funny part is that the next words out of my husband's mouth, the very NEXT words were, "But you are going to keep those two cute Nubian babies, right?". To explain, we had had two really cute Nubians born this year from my older Nubian doe. They were really cute. I had to laugh at my husband for not wanting me to get any more goats, but also not wanting me to get rid of some of the existing goats!
I did finally find a real Nubian at a farm up in Canton. It was the same farm where I had gotten my first Nubian and I knew that the farmers had never bred anything to their Nubians, except other Nubians. The guy is a real cutey! He is black and white with a little brown. His ears are really long and his nose is really Roman.
I am proud of myself because along with adding goats to the herd this year, I have already sent some away. Just this weekend someone came to pick up Hefty, my 11 week-old Toggenburg/Alpine male. His twin brother, Black Bart, is staying at my farm to be used as my stud this year. Hefty went to a nice farm to be their stud for the year.
And just last night someone came to pick up Matilda and Madge. I sold them both to a nice family that wants some goats to get milk and mow the grass. I sold Matilda because I am keeping her daughter to use for breeding. Matilda was a really good goat and I will miss her not being in the herd. Madge left because I didn't have room for her. She is Gloria's daughter, which I am sure will make her a lovely, friendly goat with a good udder and great personality. She already had plenty of personality!
So goats are coming and goats are going. I have two more goats to get rid of and I am just waiting for the person that is buying them to have a place to put them at his farm. Then I will be down to a herd of only 7 goats and that will be a good thing.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
All the kids want to be in the picture!
Crystal says, "What are YOU looking at?!"
Here is HeftyMan. He is the biggest of the babies.
This is Cindy Lou. She is a Nubian goat.
Cheryl says "Hello"
Here is Black Bart. I will be using him for breeding my goats this year.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Here are the newest set of kids. This is Pepper's twin does that were born yesterday morning.
This is another picture of little Madge.
Here is Lucy and Matilda.
This is big Gloria.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Here is Cheryl and Martha. They are Matilda's kids.
This is Hey-Zeus. He is Gloria's kid.
This is Hey-Zeus' sister Madge.
These two are Lucy's boys. I don't have names for them yet - I need suggestions.
Here is another cute picture of Martha.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
No one here uses the word "spring" except in reference to daylight savings time. Everyone refers to this time of year as mud season. Right now the snow is melting and the ground is still frozen. The water from the melting snow runs and pools into the most inconvenient spots because there is still frost in the ground and there is nowhere for the water to go. Most of those inconvenient spots seem to be in people's driveways, around people's porches, and in the middle of my goat barn. With lots of water and semi-frozen dirt, comes mud -- lots and lots and lots of mud. Mud that sticks to everything, mud that swallows wheel barrow tires and tractors whole, mud that ends up on your bathroom floor whether or not you took your boots off outside of the house. MUD!
Mud season also spawns a particularly interesting occurence of "frost heaves". Frost heaves are not something you get from eating too much Ben & Jerry's. Frost heaves are when parts of a normally flat, paved road thaw and freeze unevenly. They come in all sizes from a single tire-popping pothole to a truck eating trench. You know when you are approaching a frost heave when you see a little, tiny orange flag by the side of the road. When I first saw the orange flag on a road, as I raced well over the speed limit to get to class on one of my college days, I thought someone must be having a birthday party or a garage sale and pointing the way with cute little orange flags. Well, ten feet after I passed the orange flag, my car was launched into the air only to slam down in a bone crunching crash back to earth. The road behind the flag was gone. I don't mean there was a little dip in the road, I mean the road was completely gone! The trench where the road should have been was 2 feet deep and equally as wide. From then on, whenever I see a little orange flag, I slam on the brakes and creep past towards whatever canyon lays in the road from the wonderful frost heaves.
Then with all these pools of water and pits of mud comes another interesting part of living in the North Country ---- BLACKFLIES!! Blackflies are these little biting bugs that fly around in man-eating swarms and have been known to drive full grown moose to the point of drowning themselves to find reprieve from the biting. Shortly after mud season comes the blackflies. Living in the North-Northeast it is not uncommon to see more people outside working and playing when it is -30F than outside in the peak of blackfly time. Blackflies are not discouraged by bug spray or citronella candles or agent orange. The only way to get away from blackflies is to stay inside or stay completely, 100% covered. You will see people all over the North Country covered head-to-toe on the most sunny of days just trying to not get their blood sucked. Blackflies not only suck your blood, but they bite you and leave a huge welt. The welt is extremely itchy and turns quickly to a bloody mess after a few short bouts of scratching. The welt also stays on your body for at least 3 weeks. Some people have scars from blackfly bites that have never gone away. And, if you are like me, you can have an allergic reaction to too many bites. If I get bit more than a dozen times at once I develop a fever, sore throat, and headache for days. It's wonderful. So you will see me out an about (gardening, doing chores, grocery shopping) covered in long pants and a mesh bug shirt that covers my head and face. The bug shirt keeps the blackflies from getting to my skin and taking a chunk out of me. It isn't the most appealing fashion statement, but it works and I recommend it to anyone.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
The next morning he was standing in my flowerbed. Tom went out to put him back in his pasture and I went out to figure out how he had escaped. I deduced that he had walked over the snow and ice and stepped over where the fence was low. Tom shoveled some of the snow away from the edge of the fence and I made sure the fence was on and working. Herman stayed in his pasture the rest of the day and we assumed he would continue to stay there.
Yesterday I came home from work to find Herman in the dog pen. I was puzzled but didn't feel like thinking about it too hard. When Tom came home he explained that Herman had seen Tom plowing in his truck and decided he wanted to play. He jumped high in the air over the fence and ran circles around the plow truck, kicking and snorting for joy. Then he ran down the road and skidded on two legs around the corner to the barn. Tom caught Herman in the barn and put him in the dog pen (which is the tallest pen we have). He is there to stay until we can figure out a "flight proof" fencing situation.