“Did you grow up on a farm?” is a question I hear often when people are desperately trying to develop a schema of someone who would have an urban farm. I actually find the question really annoying. “Of course not!”, I want to shout. One of my earlier posts was I Hate Animals.
I don’t get terribly emotionally connected to animals. For me animals should serve a purpose. I remember explaining a service dog to my girls at the airport. “That’s a working dog girls. That means it has a job. All dogs should have a job”. I wasn’t kidding. It’s the reason I love chickens. They lay eggs. I love my cats. They catch mice. We bought Mini Nubian (best breed ever) dairy goats because they make milk. I’ve found that it’s not through hugs and cuddles that I grow in affection towards them but in the work they do.
Peppercorn our Mini Nubian dairy goat was a means to an end for me at first. She was gentle which was nice for the kids. However, she whined a lot and was very particular about EVERY THIING. My respect first grew for her when she had her babies. She was such a good mom. She took care of them diligently and protectively. I didn’t have to worry about them because she was such an excellent momma.
It was when I was milking her though that I truly bonded with Peppers. Maybe it was because of the amount of time I spent with her, but I think it had more to do with what she was giving me. She provided for my babies. I’d milk her and then immediately pour fresh warm milk for my children’s breakfast. It’s a beautiful thing to have an animal that feeds your family.
Last weekend, I met a woman at local estate sale who told me about a nearby neighbor who had chickens that were HUGE. I told her they were probably fattening them up to eat. The woman gasped and put her hands over her ears. “Don’t tell me that”, she said. I asked her if she was a vegetarian. “No, I just don’t want to know”, she responded.
YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW! I thought. YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW! How precious life is. I’ve grown in my respect for life and for these animals that give it. There’s nothing wrong with eating an animal, but be grateful instead of pretending. We don’t have Peppers anymore. No, we didn’t eat her. She’s doing what she does best, and is being a dairy goat on a farm in Ohio. Selling her did effect me more than I ever could have imagined. It’s not that I loved her, I was thankful. My feelings for her are gratitude and respect.
I didn’t grow up on a farm. I grew up on the south side of Chicago. My earliest memory with a dog was staring at a giant doberman frothing jaw as my mom lifted me over the fence before it reached me. I respected that animal for its job which was to guard. However that respect was born out of fear not gratitude. Owning dairy goats changed me.