Makin’ bacon with tender loving care
There is a difference between food animals and pets.
And it’s not about quality of care. Food animals are respectfully handled and carefully managed. Their needs are always top of mind whether it’s the middle of winter or the oppressive heat of summer.
It’s about emotional attachment.
Pets may sleep on the bed, recline with us on the couch or chase our frisbees. Pets meet us at the stall door, rub against our ankles or wag us into a state of happiness. Then again … have you ever watched curious cows sniffing their caretaker or leaning into a good scratch on the head? Have you ever seen a porky pig take a walk with his owner and then watched as it reclined in the grass beside her?
Some might think that’s a big problem. I say it’s healthy.
The more you like/love/respect your animals — any animals, the better care they will receive. That’s why farmers like my father-in-law know their cows by name and address them as such during milking.
It’s why my dad is able to walk up to (most) calves in the pasture shortly after birth. He treats their mamas well and they’ve learned to trust him. He cares for them and protects them from harm. And that’s why — when the electric went out the other day — he called up the power company. He wasn’t upset because his lights were out or the refrigerator was off. The cows couldn’t get water and that was the only thing on his mind.
This porker is on her mind, too.
He’s the first thing she checks on when her feet hit the floor in the morning. She’s been studying her pig book a lot. Not because she wants to do well at 4-H judging (though that’s on her mind), but because she wants to know more about the animal in her care. She feeds him, checks that he has fresh water, cleans his pen, and last night … bathed him. After a leisurely stroll around the yard, of course.
The fair is in July. I’m expecting some tears at the end of the week … and I’m glad.
It’s a sign that she cares … that she respects her animal … and that even though he became somewhat of a pet, she’s aware of his true purpose. To provide sustenance.
And that is a healthy, realistic point of view.