Well. This morning started off with a bang. Literally. I was not sure whether to name this post “Family First”, “Farm Life Reality Part II” or the above title.
About 6:30am I heard a very specific series of barks. For those of you who are well tuned in to your dog(s), you know exactly what each bark means. Our dogs have some very specific ones:
As soon as I heard it, I flew out of the house wondering which enemy it was. When I rounded the corner on the back side of the property I knew we had a situation that wasn’t going to end well. Lily, our livestock guard dog, had backed a coyote into a corner (between fences), and no way was she going to stand down. Lily is an Akbash, a dog very similar to a Great Pyrenees, but in my mind, a far superior LGD for many reasons (another post for another day). These dogs are not fighters, although pressed to do so, they will defend themselves and will kill if necessary. No, their instinctive drive is to protect their family at all costs using intimidation first, and force as a backup if necessary.
We do not kill predators for the sport of it, but if we have one threatening our farm family, we will not hesitate. It is a rare day that we pull out a gun and use it for this purpose, but this morning, it was necessary. We have shot sick skunks and poisonous snakes. Coyotes, although they live all around us, generally stay off our property thanks to the dogs. This one had gotten brave, and that’s not good. A brave coyote will find a food source and then our farm becomes Luby’s cafeteria for she and her friends. This means that our chickens, our cats and kittens, and even our calves and smaller dogs become potential meals…… not to mention vet bills that start rolling in as our LGD’s have to sometimes engage the enemy in battle.
Today did not end well for this coyote, and it was stressful for Lily too. She would not back down even tho she is terrified of guns. She held the coyote at bay, and Charlie shot it. Lily scrambled back to the porch, shaking…… not because of the coyote, but because of the gunshot.
Lily prefers to spend her time outdoors guarding her farm-ily……unless there is thunder, fireworks, or gunfire in our area. Any of those, and she’s at the door begging to be let in (which we do). This said, I was concerned about her response to gunfire literally that close to her.
Young Living has an oil that is well used and loved by those who know it: Stress Away. I would venture to say that several million bottles of this relaxing blend have been used and relied upon over the years. It is one of my favorite oils, and for a very good reason too…. it is my ‘go to’ in times of stress. Consequently, I keep a bottle in my purse, and one in my lab coat at work, as well as one on my desk at home. It is literally like letting out a gentle sigh of relief simply by applying it to the neck and wrists.
Now, this morning, while the situation was an elevated one, it was not as stressful for me as say….. driving in Dallas traffic during rush hour…… or working in an intensely busy pharmacy with not enough help (Frankly, that’s waaay more stressful than the previous scenario!). Poor Lily, however, WAS stressed… not from the coyote, but from the gunfire.
So, after all was said and done, I slathered our hard working girl up with Stress Away and gave her some extra special loving for the good job she had done. Young Living oils are amazing for many reasons, not the least of which is that they work just as well (if not even better) on animals as they do on humans. I believe this is because animals have no preconceived notions about what therapeutic oils can and cannot do. They either work, or they don’t for our four legged friends…. but in my experience, they nearly always do.
I am happy to report, that after about 30 minutes, Lily had a very spoiled breakfast (with treats), AND she had no interest in coming inside to recover from the gunfire. In fact, she spent the rest of the morning laying in the midst of the chickens, guarding her peeps. I’d say both she and Stress Away did their jobs well this morning!
Hugs and love from the farm y'all…. Life goes on. ~ liz
A couple of weeks ago, I left a post on my Wellness Prepper’s Facebook page that is really the ‘middle’ of this story of mine. If you know me, you know that I am a lover of animals… I connect with them in ways that most people do not. That said, the evolution of my life (and my thought processes) will likely not make much sense without an explanation. Explanations can answer questions, open a can of worms, or do both. I don’t dread talking about this topic one on one, but writing to the masses who have no idea how much heart I put into caring for my animals is a scary thing indeed. So, that said, I ask you to read onward with a thoughtful mind.
I believe in doing the right thing and living my life transparently. I am what you see and strive to be the same person in all situations. There is no ‘work personality’, ‘farm personality’, ‘church personality’ etc. One of my strongest traits is that of a protector. If I see a wrong, I work towards making it right….. ESPECIALLY if I realize I may have inadvertantly been part of the problem thru lifestyle, ignorance, or social design. (This post is not about my ‘pharm’ life, but this trait has been the driving force behind my personal growth in holistic well care as kind of kismetic gift to those in my world who have struggled with health solutions because they were led to belive that only western medicine philosophy held the right answers).
Nope. This post is about my farm life, and all that it represents. We do a large amount of animal rescue, and have spent thousands upon thousands of dollars caring for those animals who otherwise would not be given a chance. We have foregone so much ‘free time’ that I can’t even imagine what it would be like NOT to have the beautiful responsibility of caring for all the unique lives God entrusted us. I cry (believe me, I CRY) every time we lose a life around here… my heart breaks. God patches it with His presence, and I move on. In farming, when an animal is involved, there is going to be death. Sometimes it is a natural death (common within our poultry flock…. we lose one every so often to natural causes), and sometimes it is a pre-ordained destiny. This is the case with the male offspring of our dairy cows.
Before you throw me under the bus (or tractor), please hear me out. I refuse to be an intentional hypocrit in my life, and strive to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. As a world, we cannot avoid meat products and byproducts. Unless you are the most concientious vegan on the planet, your daily life likely incorporates multiple beef byproducts in it:
So you see, some of these are daily use items we simply cannot avoid. Yes, I agree… there should be a vegan solution for all of them, and in some cases there are… but in many cases, there is not. I certainly respect those who live a vegan lifestyle, but the reality is….. nobody on this planet is fully vegan.
The second part of the equation is this…. if you are a carnivore, are you an educated one? Unless you are eating humanely raised meat, do you have any idea of the quality of life an animal leads from birth to death? For the vast majority, life is uncomfortable, unnatural, stressful, and without kindness. It is easier to block this from your mind, and so most people do. They prefer to pick up their packaged meat and blind themselves as to how it arrived at the store. Feedlot raised animals and Factory Farming are abhorrent practices that should be outlawed…. but they’re not.
I once was blind, but now I see.
I challenge you to click on the link above to learn the facts, and I believe you will understand the message I am trying to convey here. The vast majority of farm animals are treated as objects. Their lives have no value in the eyes of the beholder (unless you are talking about $/lb hanging weight). There is no appreciation for the life that is sacrificed so that the consumer can eat a hamburger or steak, and certainly not for the lesser things…. the glue, binder, ointments, etc.
This is NOT the case on our farm.
We can be part of the problem, and turn a blind eye, or we can be part of the solution, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us. For in our discomfort, we are compassionate.
When a bull calf is born, we celebrate his healthy birth, but with a bit of sadness. One of the byproducts of our liquid gold (raw milk) sometimes is a bull calf. That bull calf will eventually be old enough, after living a well loved life, grazing without fear in our pasture, with no stress, plenty of space, and with a small herd. He will have plenty of natural forage to eat, fresh water to drink, and shelter from the elements. He will be able to enjoy the sunshine, and will play with his peers. Life will be good. Believe it or not, I begin praying for him and thanking God for his healthy birth, and for the sacrifice he will be made so that some of our friends can have healthy and safe meat (grass fed, nonGMO, hormone free, antibiotic free, chemical free). We have hand chosen the processor we use. He is one of the few animal welfare approved processsors in this area of Texas. The end comes without stress for him. As for me, I drive them myself. It is a rough trip, and I cannot say it is stress free for me, because still…. my heart breaks. I say prayers of thanksgiving the entire 140 miles round trip. Do I enjoy this aspect of farming? Heck no. But this is reality… not just for us, but for everyone. We don’t condone what Factory Farming does, so we provide a better way for a small handful of cattle over our lifetime. Like the starfish principle…. we are making a difference to the ones we raise this way.
People have asked me how we can do this, and I respond…. how could we not? We could put our heads in the sand and sell the calves and pretend we don’t know what happens to them. For the record, most dairy calves end up at the sale barn unless they are replacement heifers. They also end up in veal cages (the worst case scenario for a calf). Our calves stay with their mama’s and are dam raised (as opposed to removed from their mama and given powdered milk replacer instead of the good stuff….. another common practice). They stay with them for several months before they are weaned.
The average dairy cow lives a life of about 5 years before being culled (that’s a nice way of saying killed). Our granny cow (retired) Clementine is somewhere around the age of 15. We have two more that are 7+ years old, with a long life in front of them. They have time to recover from each birth and milking season before repeating the process.
Walking the talk is not easy, but it is the right thing to do. It has given me the true meaning of praying over our meals, and the sacrifices it took to get it there. Mealtime prayers frequently get overlooked or understated. Rote. Not in our home.
I doubt this process will ever get easy for me, and I honestly, I hope it never does. Discomfort ensures compassion and gratitude, something we all need more of.
Hugs and Love, liz
Hey there....thanks for stopping by! This is me (Liz James)... an eclectic mixture of holistic (and organic) farmgirl meets pharmacist. It's a synergy that works well as I speak truths and dissect fact from fiction. If you're looking for healthier living options, you've come to the right place!